How to answer an unseen poetry question

Lindis Dixon
Mind Map by Lindis Dixon, updated more than 1 year ago
Lindis Dixon
Created by Lindis Dixon over 3 years ago


English Mind Map on How to answer an unseen poetry question, created by Lindis Dixon on 01/20/2017.

Resource summary

How to answer an unseen poetry question
1 The question is always the same!
1.1 It is a good idea to annotate (write notes) upon the poem.
1.1.1 Difficult vocabulary is often footnoted at the bottom. Remember the title is a key part of the poem.
2 It is the last section of the exam.
2.1 The question is always the same; the only thing that changes each year is the poem.
2.1.1 Your answer will be an essay of about a side. It is worth 10 marks (the other sections are out of 30. You have 30 minutes to complete the question. 5‐10 minutes should be spent reading and planning, 15‐20 writing and 5 checking
3 Remember you answer should be written in analytical paragraphs. PEEL
4 The important thing is that this gives you a handle on the poem which you can base your answer on.
4.1 A good technique to help you to get into the poem is to think about what it is actually about before you start. This will give you something to hang your answer on. The best way to do this is before you do anything else after reading the poem is to write down 5 words which sum it up.
4.1.1 They can be connected words or separate ones. They can be from the poem or from your reaction. Then select the most important ones.
5 What is a theme? A theme is a concept, or idea, that the poem explores. Often the themes will be contained in the 5 words you initially came up with.
6 What can I do to revise? Write a paragraph about the theme of any of the poems.
7 What can I do to practise even more? Write about the themes of the other poems.
8 Irony - Expressing something by using words that mean the opposite (humorous or sarcastic).
8.1 Analogy- Comparing the likeness of two things.
8.1.1 Personification - Giving an inanimate object human characteristics. Simile - Comparing two objects as they have something in common using as or like Alliteration - Repetition of a consonant in a phrase (e.g. Harry had a hole in his hard hat). Assonance - Repetition of vowel sound (e.g. cold, told, bold). Parataxis - Use of very short, sharp sentences. Metaphor - Comparisons which don't use "like" or "as", but say that something "is" something else because it is similar. Imagery - Using language to convey an atmosphere. Onomatopoeia - When spoken, a word which sounds the same as its meaning (e.g. "hiss" - a snake). Hyperbole - Exaggerating something so much that it cannot be taken literally.
9 Enjambment - Continuing a sentence beyond the end of a line, couplet, or stanza.
9.1 Assonance - The same / similar sound used in syllables of words near each other.
9.1.1 Ballad - Ancient poem telling a story. Couplet - A pair of lines of verse usually the same length.
9.2 Octet / Octave - First 8 lines in a sonnet.
9.2.1 Pentameter - A line of 10 syllables. Quatrain - A stanza / group of 4 lines usually with alternate rhymes. Sonnet - A 14-line poem. Stanza - Four or more rhymed lines repeated as a unit. Verse - A group of lines in a poem.
10 Is the structure regular or irregular?
10.1 How does this fit in with what the poem is about?
11 The structure of the poem is regular. There are six stanzas with each one being made up of three lines. The first and third line of each stanza rhyme. This regular structure suggests two things. Firstly, it seems to reflect the shopkeeper’s straight forward, black and white view of the world. Secondly, it creates a sense of straight forward honesty on the part of the narrator who seems aware of the things that sadly the shopkeeper has missed.
12 Language is used in a dramatic and unsettling way with the line: “At every desk a still child stared at me” The phrase “still child” seems strange as we would expect children in a school to be full of life and energy. The fact they are staring at the narrator as if they are inspecting him/her makes them sound quite hostile. They seem to be very strange, ghostly and unsettling children.
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