Les Grands Seigneurs - the Redhill Academy

The great lords
Les Grands Seigneurs
Read the poem…
Things you should know
• An allusion is when one text refers to another.
This is shown when the poet in stanza one
refers to A Tale of Two Cities by Charles
Stanza One
bowers = a
lady’s private
Buttress = support built on the
outside of a wall to make them
Turrets and
battlements like a
Men were my buttresses, my castellated towers,
the bowers where I took my rest. The best and worst
of times were men: the peacocks and the cockatoos,
the nightingales, the strutting pink flamingos.
Here the first line suggests that the woman speaker feels
safe and protected by men – this could refer to fatherly
protection shown by men when she was younger. The
second sentence alludes to A Tale of Two Cities. The poet
is using metaphors to tell the reader about her opinions of
Metaphors that compare
men to birds are used to
show the different types
of men the narrator
recognises. See what
types there are. This
shows men to be
decorative items.
Stanza Two
A ballast is
used to weigh
down a ship
so that it
topple over
and capsize.
Again, metaphors are used to show that men are
seen as entertainment and a form of pleasure. The
personal pronoun ‘my’ in the last line here suggests
that the narrator is in control of these men.
Men were my dolphins, my performing seals; my sailing-ships,
the ballast in my hold. They were the rocking-horses
prancing down the promenade, the bandstand
where the music played. My hurdy-gurdy monkey-men.
The alliteration of the ‘p’ and the
catchy rhythm of ‘hurdy-gurdy men’
makes the men seem ridiculous
A hurdy-gurdy is a music barrel
Stanza Three
This stanza sums up the
narrator’s position – ‘I was their
queen’. She is treated with
respect and adored.
Courtly love was a medieval tradition were
men admired women: they would write love
poems and songs in her honour and acted
like a slave towards the woman. The whole
point was that the man never got the
I was their queen. I sat enthroned before them,
out of reach. We played at courtly love:
the troubadour, the damsel and the peach.
A damsel is a woman (old
fashioned word)
A troubadour is a poet who wrote about courtly
‘Peach’ here means the
best of its kind although it
has also been used in the
past to describe the female
Stanza Four
The use of
brackets serves
to highlight her
surprise with
the sudden
change as
though the
reader is
listening to her
The whole tone of the poem changes
abruptly here – as soon as she is ‘wedded,
bedded’ (internal rhyme) everything changes
and she becomes reduced to demeaning roles
(roles that show she isn’t respected).
But after I was wedded, bedded, I became
(yes, overnight) a toy, a plaything, little woman,
wife, a bit of fluff. My husband clicked
his fingers, called my bluff.
The speaker shows how
insignificant a woman becomes
when she is a ‘wife’ by mixing the
Now that we have read the
word in with ‘bit of fluff’ and
poem the title becomes
ironic/sarcastic – men in the
narrator’s opinion are not
‘great lords’
What should you notice?
• Relationships are seen without love but
instead with control.
• In the first 11 lines the speaker is in control
• As soon as the speaker marries the husband is
in control
• Occasional rhyme is used to draw attention to
stereotypes that the narrator is mocking:
‘wedded/bedded’, ‘reach/peach’
• The poem uses imagery from an early age of
‘chivalry’ and romance to underline the reality
of how women are treated once they are
• The poem looks at the relationships between
men and women from a bitter and cynical
point of view

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