iGCSE Literature Examination 2012: Poetry, An Introduction by Giulia Veronelli

7 thoughts on “iGCSE Literature Examination 2012: Poetry, An Introduction by Giulia Veronelli

  1. The poems studied for igcse, divide into two main groups: the nature cluster and love poems. With the nature poets: Allen Curnow, Matthew Arnold, Adrienne Rich, Ted Hughes, Gillian Clarke, John Keats, Vachel Lindsay and Boey Kim Cheng, we learn to appreciate the environment surrounding us, becoming aware of the changes that occurred over time (humans brought to the natural world both advance in technology- improvement- and destruction).
    In the nature poems, the poets describe both their personal life experiences and the contemporary situation human kind lives in, by using elements involving the natural world (the moon, the cricket…). The theme of nature in fact, is often explored by poets, of nature and love poems, who try to represent its beauty in the different stages of life: “for beauties passed away, from field to thicket as the year goes by” (sonnet 29, Edna St Vincent Millay – lines 3,4) and both personal moments as well as contemporary situations are described. For example, Ted Hughes says: “the moon has stepped back like an artist gazing amazed at a work that points at him amazed”, a quote which actually involves his personal life, his daughter who is his ‘art work’; while poets like Gillian Clarke (with Lament) and Vachel Lindsay (with Flower fed buffaloes) include in their poems, the degradation of human life and nature’s destruction, growing with the advancing technology and use of land.
    The poets use elements of the natural world as key symbols to represent how life is. For example, Vachel Lindsay in the “flower fed buffaloes”, uses the buffalo, once powerful animal, to represent a reality that exists no more, lost under layers of advancing technology: “they gore no more, they bellow no more, they trundle around the hills no more”.

    •Thematic links:
    The love and nature poems studied can be divided into the following groups

    o Relationships: Dover beach, Amends, Full moon and little Frieda, first love, Marrysong, So we’ll go no more A-roving, Sonnet 43, Sonnet 29
    o Marriage: Dover beach, Marrysong, Sonnet 43
    o Time: Time, Dover beach, On the grasshopper and the cricket, So we’ll go no more A-roving, Sonnet 29
    o Description of nature: Time, Amends, Full moon and little Frieda, Lament, On the grasshopper and the cricket, the flower-fed buffaloes, report to Wordsworth, First love, Sonnet 29
    o Strong memories: Time, Full moon and little Frieda, First love
    o The Metaphysical: Time, Amends, Full moon and little Frieda, on the grasshopper and the cricket
    o The moon: Amends, Full moon and little Frieda, On the grasshopper and the cricket
    o Strong memories: The voice, Time, First love
    o The present state of the world: Dover beach, the flower-fed buffaloes, report to Wordsworth
    o Sonnets: Report to Wordsworth, Sonnet 43, Sonnet 29

    Explaining three key points from the thematic links:

    •TIME – time is infinite, (there was and there will be) and, no matter how badly we destroy our world, we will never be able to stop time. Time is transcendental and above our reach. Some poets find hope in this as they think that maybe someday things will change, while others relate past memories to time, to the past where we cannot go back. The poem “Time” by Allen Curnow instead not only uses time but also tries to define the meaning of time, what it is. In the poem in fact, time is talking to the reader in first person, showing how it is everything: “I am the nor-west air (…) I am the water-race (…) the rust (…) the mileage” “I am dust, I am distance…”

    •The MOON – usually with positive connotations, the moon is an element often found in poems. With its stillness, it infers a sense of calmness, tranquility, its pale light at times bringing hope. In poetry, the moon is one of the most important images of the natural world as up there in the sky, it seems so far away from the trouble drowning the Earth, so peaceful and beautiful but still able to see everything, experienced, knowledgeable. The moon not only is something we can all see and not only it becomes an artist in Ted Hughes’ poem, but, the moon also adds mystery to the words, infers the need of a deeper research of our life and the surroundings. The moon also can be related to infinity, memories, time and sadness.

    • The PRESENT STATE OF THE WORLD – poets like Matthew Arnold, Gillian Clarke, Vachel Lindsay and Boey Kim Cheng narrate about how man affects the world, destroying the equilibrium of nature. With ‘Lament’, the poet brings light not only of the plight of animals but also the effects situations have on people. Similarly, Vachel Lindsay, who draws a comparison between the creatures once peacefully living in the destroyed habitat: the flowers hide, “lie low” as “wheels and wheels and wheels spin by” and the buffaloes “left us long ago”, “with the Blackfeet lying low” (Blackfeet: population of native Americans). The present state of the world is generally negative in the poems read as poets write about pollution, destruction, materialism and greed which pushes people to destroy nature more and more in order to reach something.
    Only ‘Dover Beach’ differ as the poet appreciates the nature around him and the destruction is more moral than physical as he experiences the change of beliefs, the doubting of God’s existence which comes with the Darwinist evolution theory. For the poet, we are “naked shingle” left behind by the “sea of Faith” in which we no more travel surely, we, lost the anchor of God, must then rely on one another, “be true” and express our inner feelings.

  2. The introduction essay is very well done and has an excellent structure: anyone who needs a first insight on the poems should read this as it conveys the message of every poem well.
    Even if I really appreciate the essay no conclusion is present: so there is no paragraph summing the point of your essay.

  3. I agree with Elena, the essay is well structured and easy to understand. The introduction is clear and gives a general idea of what the poems are about. I think quotes could of been added to the explanation of the key theme “the MOON” to clarify the moon’s presence importance for the poet Ted Hughes.
    Francesca.

  4. I think a possible conclusion could be: Summing up, time, the moon, and the present state of the world are the main themes to the poems we studied in class. Every poem is involved with nature, and all the amazing adjectives help to convey this image of how we are ruining the world.

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