- Comment on the ideas and attitudes in...
- How do particular words and phrases bring out the poets' ideas?
- What are the effects of the poems on you and why?
- What are the poets' intentions in writing these poems and how do you know?
Getting to know the poems
What? Where? When? What are the stories of the poems? Answering these questions is a good starting point to help you make sense of the poems, and it can usually be done fairly easily.
You should try to understand the forms of the poems (the way they are constructed). Look at the number and the length of the lines and stanzas - are they regular? Irregular? Do the lines have a similar length, or do they look random? Are there any very short, direct, lines
To get high marks in your exam you need to be able to pick out quotations from the poems that illustrate the points you make. The selection of a quotation is one way the examiner will know if you really understand the poem and if you are able to construct an argument and if you have thought about your ideas.
Make sure you develop your point by commenting about the quotation you've selected - how it shows what you're saying.
Remember this process:
Point → Quotation → Comment
Make a point, support it with a quotation and then explain how the language used helps to add to the line's effectiveness.
How to read a poem
- What is it about? Get to know the subject matter of the poem.
- What form is the poem written in - and why?
- How does the poem work? Look at the language (words) the poet has used. Think about the sound the poem makes when you read it.
- Develop your ideas about the poem. What ideas does the poem give you? What attitude does the poet have to the subject matter? What tone does the poem have - how would you read it aloud?