Helen McClements Poetry Expert

Helen McClements

Helen is a teacher of English and French in a Grammar School in Belfast. Helen has contributed to articles on her Book Group in the Irish Times and her passion for running in The Belfast Telegraph.

Last Post by Carol Ann Duffy

In ‘Last Post’, the poet winds back the clock so we reimagine fallen soldiers being brought back to life instead of dying in battle in the fields during WWI.

I am very bothered by Simon Armitage

In ‘I am very bothered’, the Speaker takes on the role of confessor, as he shares a shameful event from his past and offers it up to the Reader to make up their minds about the misdemeanor.

The Laboratory by Robert Browning

‘The Laboratory’ is one of Browning’s most popular dramatic monologues in which we discover the evil schemings of a spurned wife, plotting the demise of her rival.

Clearances by Seamus Heaney

‘Clearances’ forms part of a series of sonnets in which Heaney examines his relationship with his mother, and focuses on her death.

The Tuft of Flowers by Robert Frost

‘The Tuft of Flowers’ by Robert Frost is a poem about the lives of simple, hardworking people. As it progresses, it takes a more mystical turn.

The Oven Bird by Robert Frost

‘The Oven Bird’ by Robert Frost is a contemplation of life, death, and aging. The poet uses a common New England bird as a metaphor.

Thatcher by Seamus Heaney

The speaker describes the intricate work of a ‘Thatcher’ from the perspective of a child. We feel a sense of wonder and awe at the tradesman’s skill.

An Arundel Tomb by Philip Larkin

‘An Arundel Tomb’ by Philip Larkin muses on themes of life, death, and the passage of time. The speaker alludes to the strength of love and how affecting a demonstration of it can be.

In Westminster Abbey by John Betjeman

‘In Westminster Abbey’ is a satirical dramatic monologue in which Betjeman sends up the upper classes for their preoccupations with class and money.

The Battle by Louis Simpson

In this sharp poem ‘The Battle’, Louis Simpson depicts life on the front line of war with searing honesty and unsentimentally.

The Five Students by Thomas Hardy

In ‘The Five Students’ The Speaker employs the metaphor of changing seasons to indicate the inexorable passage of time as five people journey through life.

Vergissmeinnicht by Keith Douglas

‘Vergissmeinnicht’ is about English soldiers returning to the scene of a battle fought three weeks previously and find the dead body of a German soldier.

Warming Her Pearls by Carol Ann Duffy

‘Warming Her Pearls’ by Carol Ann Duffy is a poem in which a servant girl reveals her love for her mistress, as she describes wearing her pearls throughout the day.

Love by Kate Clanchy

In this striking and original poem called ‘Love’ the poet examines her feelings towards her newborn son. Here is an analysis of the poem.

Richard Cory by Edwin Arlington Robinson

‘Richard Cory’ by Edwin Arlington Robinson is a simple poem which shows the chasm between perception and reality and warns the reader never to judge on appearances.

Foxes Among the Lambs by Ernest G. Moll

In ‘Foxes Among the Lambs’, Ernest Moll takes us on a farmer’s journey, where he discovers some lambs savaged by foxes out in the fields, and documents his reprisal.

Days by Philip Larkin

‘Days’ by Philip Larkin is a beautiful poem that contemplates life in the poet’s typical fashion. He asks the reader to consider “What are days for?”

Afternoons by Philip Larkin

‘Afternoons’ by Philip Larkin presents a brief depiction of post-war Britain. He explores less than ideal family relationships and gives the period an overall gloomy tone.

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