Power of Memory

Extract from the Prelude

The young boy is haunted by the awesome elements of nature that surround him:

  • _ ‘the grim shape Towered up between me and the stars’_
  • ‘measured motion like a living thing, Strode after me.’
  • ‘That spectacle, for many days, my brain Worked with a dim and undetermined sense’
  • ‘o’er my thoughts There hung a darkness’
  • ‘a trouble to my troubled dreams’

My Last Duchess

The Duchess is only known through the Duke’s memory of her. He reveals a lot about his own character too:

  • ‘That’s my last Duchess painted on the wall, looking as if she were alive’
  • ‘The curtain I have drawn for you’
  • ‘She had A heart- how shall I say?- too soon made glad, too easily impressed’
  • _ ‘I choose Never to stoop’_
  • ‘I gave commands; Then all smiles stopped together’

The Charge of the Light Brigade

Lord Tennyson wanted to remind people of the sacrifices made by the soldiers who lost their lives, during the battle of Balaclava.

  • ‘ “Charge for the guns!” he said.’
  • ‘Boldly they rode and well’
  • _‘Flashed all their sabres bare’ _
  • ‘When can their glory fade?’
  • ‘O the wild charge they made!’
  • ‘Honour the charge they made! Honour the Light Brigade’
  • ‘Noble six hundred!’


The soldier’s experience plagues his conscience:

  • _‘probably armed, possibly not’ _
  • ‘I see every round as it rips through his life-‘
  • _ ‘His blood-shadow stays on the street’_
  • ‘the drink and the drugs wont flush him out-‘
  • ‘He’s here in my head when I close my eyes’
  • ‘his bloody life in my bloody hands


The mother remembers her last experiences with her son, before he went off to war:

  • ‘smoothed down your shirt’s upturned collar
  • ‘steeled the softening of my face’
  • ‘play at being Eskimos like we did when you were little’
  • ‘A split second and you were away, intoxicated.’
  • ‘After you’d gone I… released a song bird’
  • I listened hoping to hear your playground voice’

War Photographer

The photographer captures distressing moments that are experienced in war-zones:

  • ‘spools of suffering set out in ordered rows’
  • ‘hands, which did not tremble then though seem to now’
  • ‘A stranger’s features faintly start to twist’
  • ‘a half-formed ghost’
  • ‘blood stained into foreign dust’

The Emigree

The speaker’s childhood memories of her country of origin are being tainted by her adult understandings:

  • ‘There once was a country… I left it as a child’
  • ‘my memory of it is sunlight-clear’
  • ‘The worst news I receive of it cannot break my original view’
  • ‘It may be at war, it may be sick with tyrants’
  • ‘child’s vocabulary I carried here like a hollow doll’


The daughter is relaying her father’s experience, as a Kamikaze pilot.

  • ‘Her father embarked at sunrise’
  • ‘a samurai sword… a shaven head full of powerful incantations’
  • ‘remembered how he and his brothers waiting on the shore…’
  • ‘this was no longer the father we loved’
  • ‘And sometimes, she said, he must have wondered which had been the better way to die.’