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A GCSE Guide to AQA Unit 2: Poetry Across Time | Flag

Shane Richardson | Sunday January 13, 2013

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Guide Navigation

1. Introduction
2. Out of the Blue
3. Flag
4. Mametz Wood
5. The Yellow Palm
6. The Right Word
7. At the Border
8. Poppies
9. Exam Technique
10. Sample Exam Questions

AQA Anthology Poems

“Moon on the Tides: Conflict Cluster”

Introduction to the Poem

About the Author

John Agard was born in Guyana, in the West Indies in 1949. However, in 1977 he moved to England and has lived in the south-east ever since.

He has written widely from acclaimed anthologies to children’s literature.

He has been a frequent contributor to literature anthologies meaning that most young people have studied his work at some stage in their school lives.

Checking your Understanding

  1. In the first stanza, Agard talks about how the flag is ‘fluttering’ this makes it sound insignificant – why do you think Agard uses this detail to begin the poem?
  2. Throughout the poem, Agard repeats the phrase ‘just a piece of cloth’ – does he mean this literally or is he being ironic?
  3. Look at each of the final lines in each stanza: how do these lines suggest the power of the flag?
  4. By the end of the final stanza how might our view of flags have changed or be different?

Commenting on Language

  • How does the poet use words to make the flag seem like an active, almost living object?
  • What is the developing (structural) effect on you when you read of the refrain ‘just a piece of cloth’?
  • Why do you think Agard has chosen to begin each stanza with a rhetorical question?
  • The poem has a regular rhyme scheme, how does this link to Agard’s ideas?
  • The stanza structure is also regular, why do you think Agard has opted for such a structure?

Extending your Understanding

What is Agard’s ‘big idea’?

One way of interpreting this poem might be that Agard was interested in exploring the idea of ‘national’ identity versus ‘individual’ identity. This is a very clear tension that exists in all societies to a...


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