Shooting Stars Annotations
Title More complex meaning – what is a shooting star? Transitory burst of light flying through the sky. It’s breathtaking, and unique – but it inevitably fades and dies. All life is passionate and vibrant – and important. Shooting Stars by Carol Ann Duffy Literal meaning = shooting of Jews who were identified by the Star of David. If you see a shooting star the belief is that you get to make a wish. What is Duffy’s wish? 6 stanzas represent the 6 million Jews who died.
List of Jewish Biblical names. No punctuation = no pause. Deaths are numerous and relentless. List goes on and on – reminds us of mass grave memorials. No full stop because many names have yet to be added. Stanza 1 Present tense – to bring this horror into our immediate consciousness. First person dramatic monologue. Speaks from beyond the grave. Speaker is nameless (in contrast to list of Jewish names) – so could be any one of the 6 million dead. After I no longer speak they break our fingers to salvage my wedding ring. Rebecca Rachel RuthAaron Emmanuel David, stars on all our brows Beneath the gaze of men with guns. Mourn for our daughters, Connotations = brutal, greedy. Salvage implies that things are sold on for profit. Implies the Germans have taken the valuable bits and got rid of the ‘rubbish’. Reminds us that females suffered too. War poetry usually remembers the heroic deeds of male soldiers. This is a command (sentence type).
A dramatic one word sentence. Suggests a tree which would fall upright, and wouldn’t crumble. A tree is a force of nature, a living thing; nature is being destroyed and violated. Stanza 2 This is a simile. Connotations are of something still, silent and strong. Statues show no emotion, they are made of stone and endure for years. They are precious and valuable, worthy of remembering. This image shows Duffy’s immense respect for these women; she feels their memory should live on, like statues do. upright as statues, brave. You would not look at me. You waited for the bullet. Fell. I say, Remember. Remember those appalling days which make the world forever bad. One saw I was alive. Loosened Repetition emphasises one of the poems themes – that we should remember these women and learn from the mistakes of the past. Makes us think of Remembrance Day. The speaker thinks this event should be given the samesignificance as remembering soldiers who died in battle. Enjambment. Delay between ‘loosened’ and ‘belt’ creates suspense. There is surprise and shock when we realise the woman is going to be raped.
‘Corpses’, notably not ‘bodies’ or ‘people’. They no longer have names. Corpse is a cold, medical term used by doctors. It renders the dead Jews nameless, faceless and anonymous – just another of the six million Stanza 3 Graphic description of rape is omitted, but the woman’s fear is not. Shows there are things worse than death and she is about to experience them. Soldiers brutalise and dehumanise her. ‘Ragged’ = pain, torn, hurt. his belt. My bowels opened in a ragged gape of fear. Between the gap of corpses I could see a child. The soldiers laughed. Only a matter of days separate this from acts of torture now. They shot her in the eye. Shows cruelty and bloodlust. They have used this child for target practice. A grotesque image. Matter of fact tone shows how little emotion the soldier feels. We have not progressed at all – only a “matter of days” really separates us from these terrible acts because we still permit things like this to happen. Shows devilish, evil enjoyment and pleasure.
The connotations of this season are of baby lambs and things being born. This contrasts with the Jewish people who are facing death – dying too soon, before their autumn/winter when things traditionally die. Irony: “words that express something different from and often opposite to their literal meaning.” Contrast between ‘perfect’ and ‘die’ to show death can happen in pleasing environments. Stanza 4 Peaceful, calm imagery. These soldiers seem ordinary, with simple pleasures. How would you prepare to die, on a perfectApril evening with young men gossiping and smoking by the graves?My bare feet felt the earth and urine trickled down my legs. I heard the click. Not yet. A trick. Addresses the reader. Rhetorical question used to involve the reader. Word choice of ‘gossiping’ is far more effective than ‘talking’. Has a connotation of idle ‘chit chat’, words spoken merely to pass time. Highlights contrast between soldiers actions and the frivolity with which they dismiss them. Internal rhyme. Click = onomatopoeia. Repetition of ‘ck’ sound mimics gunfire. One word sentences (“Not yet. A trick.”) show abruptness/finality. Ultimate humiliation, they are toying with her.
Stanza 5 Some of the soldiers are young, only children themselves. This is deliberately ironic and implies a civilised lifestyle, which we know the Germans do not lead. Repetition of “After” shows that the word simply goes on regardless and draws our attention to the lack of guilt felt by the Germans. The word after suggests the events are in the past – forgotten about. After immense suffering someone takes tea on the lawn. After the terrible moans a boy washes his uniform. After the history lesson children run to their toys the worldturns in its sleep the spades shovel soil Sara Ezra… Alliteration of ‘s’ = repetitive cycle of misery. The world keeps turning. Events such as this are now viewed as ‘history’. Ellipsis shows horror and pain are never-ending. Also more names are to be added.
Stanza 6 Tells us about the strength of the speaker. She forgives the men who kill her and asks us to do the same. Perhaps links back to the idea some of them are just ‘boys’. Another rhetorical question. Involves the reader. Final plea is addressed from woman to woman. Sister, if seas part us, do you not consider me? Tell them I sang the ancient psalms at dusk inside the wire and strong men wept. Turn thee unto me with mercy, for I am desolate and lost. We don’t care – no conscience. Psalm (25th). Asks us to forgive our enemies. Keeps her faith in the face of death. Does not question whether there is a God. Not about fine deeds and battles. About one individual’s struggle in the face of inhumanity and evil. Heroic final stanza.
What’s it all about? • Not about fine deeds on the battlefield • The role of ordinary people, particularly women, is often ignored as we focus on the heroism of soldiers • Chronicles the struggle of one individual in the face of evil and inhumanity • Shows that love and the belief in God can overcome evil
Themes • War • Bravery • Love is stronger / more powerful than hate • We forget too easily about the horrors of war
Possible questions • Heroic character • Evil • Powerful message • Intense emotional impact • A strong character
Your essay question: • Choose a poem that makes you feel sad. Briefly describe what the poem is about and go on to explain the techniques that the poet uses to make you feel this way.
Dramatic monologue definition • “A single person, who is patently not the poet, utters the speech that makes up the whole of the poem, in a specific situation at a critical moment […].” - M. H. Abrams • So, a fictional character ‘speaks’ the whole poem to the reader at a dramatic moment.