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A GCSE Guide to AQA Unit 2: Poetry Across Time | The Yellow Palm

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”

About the Author

Robert Minhinnick is a poet and Environmentalist. His work is highly decorated. Minhinnick has written peoms in both English and Welsh as well as translating many works in his native tongue.

Minhinnick is an active environmental campaigner who was established the Welsh branch of the UK charity ‘Friends of the Earth’.

Checking your Understanding

  1. What does the speaker see as he walks along Palestine Street in the first stanza?
  2. What kind of place do we imagine Palestine Street to be based on what the speaker sees and hears?
  3. What clues are there in the poem to indicate what has changed between the past and the present in Iraq?
  4. Research the terms ‘Imperial Guard’ and ‘Mother of all Wars’.

Commenting on Language

  1. Identify all of the different contrasts in the poem – what effect do they achieve?
  2. Look at the references to religion, in particular the word ‘blessed’, are there any ambiguities here?
  3. How many different ways can we interpret the contrast in the final stanza?

Extending your Understanding

What is Minhinnick’s ‘big idea’?

Minhinnick uses the Yellow Palm to explore some complex ideas. He uses Iraq as a symbol of an oil-rich state, that should be a progressive and functioning democracy (i.e. a place where the government is voted in by all of the people), but is in fact one that needs saving by the West from its despotic ruler. At the heart of the poem is the speaker who walks along Palestine Street, littered as it is with the remnants of Iraq’s bloody past, who feels very little by way of emotion. So, in essence, the big idea at the centre of the poem focuses on what the poet sees as the disintegration of a nation...

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