AQA Best Words Pre-1914 Poems Notes

AQA Best Words Pre-1914 Poems Notes

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AQA Best Words
Pre 1914 Poetry
Revision Booklet
To Autumn John Keats
The title ­ this is an apostrophe poem (one that is addressed to someone or something),
which immediately personifies the season itself. The season of autumn is often associated with the
slow nearend of the year, and this reflects the fact that Keats knew his own death from tuberculosis
was imminent, and that this poem was written during the final stages of his life as a poet, as he knew
he would have to give up writing soon due to financial pressures.

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The structure ­ the poem has a three eleven lines stanzas which demonstrate the
progression through the season, from the end of summer and harvesting the crops, to finally, the
approaching winter and its connotations of death.
Stanza one ­ the fruitfulness of autumn ­ this represents the life that Keats has
already lived the effort and love and joy he has experienced in his life. Remember that he was only
twenty six , and so the potential of his life was never fulfilled.…read more

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John Clare uses a traditional, even structure, with regular syllables and iambic tetrameter used steadily
throughout. Although this seems at odds with the passion that John Clare is describing within the poem, it is
typical of the Renaissance period in which the poem was written, which was concerned with reviving the
classical traditions of poetry. The very regular, strict structure and versification also heightens the feeling of
pressure and claustrophobia that the lyrical voice feels in response to love.…read more

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The poem is the form of a dramatic monologue, so that the reader very quickly becomes aware of the
fact that they are only hearing the Duke's point of view. We are left to create an impression of him and his
personality not only from what he says, but also what he chooses not to say. The poem is written in iambic
pentameter, and in 28 rhyming couplets, further demonstrating how measured, controlled and sinister the lyrical
voice is.…read more

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The structure of the poem is very important ­ it is divided into three stanzas of differing lengths, all with
different ways of attempting to persuade the mistress to capitulate:
Stanza One:
In the first stanza the lyrical voice uses elaborate and hyperbolic compliments to attempt to lure his
mistress into bed:
`I would/Love you ten years before the Flood' and `An hundred years should go to praise/ Thine eyes
and on thy forehead gaze,/Two hundred to adore each breast.…read more

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The Shakespearean sonnet, is based on a far older poetic form, but Shakespeare's sonnets are
specifically written in iambic pentameter (5 pairs of syllables in a line, with the emphasis on the second syllable ­
`Shall I compare thee to..) which gives them a highly polished, structured and carefully planned feel. The use of
this carefully thought out form of meter is used to demonstrate just how important the love is to the lyrical voice,
and just how much thought he has given it.…read more

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As this poem was traditionally passed down from one generation to the next by word of mouth, it is
important that it has a strict structure and rhyme scheme to make it easier to remember. From the late middle ages
onwards, travelling storytellers known as jongleurs travelled the country, telling stories and singing songs for
money. They were popular and highly sought after due to the fact that most people could not read, and had no
access to books or other entertainment anyway.…read more

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Again, this is an apostrophe poem (one that is written to a person or an object), and the fact that Burns directs
this to a mouse is important. Burns was from a poor farming background, and was largely selftaught when it
came to reading and writing.…read more

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Stanza One:
The reader becomes aware of what the lyrical voice wants, and how his mistress is denying him this. In
order to persuade her he is using a flea to trivialise, `how little that which thou deny's me is'. The use of the
word `little' demonstrates that the two are already lovers, and that he is not asking for anything new.…read more

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Quatrain One:
The start of the sonnet mirrors the ceremonial words of wedding vows, where a minister asks
whether there are any `just impediments' to the marriage. The lyrical voice seems be bitter in his
opening lines, and there is heavy irony on the word `true', implying his betrayal in love. He then goes
on to describe how love cannot be love if it changes.…read more


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