Example Essay – Education and Social Class (Poems of the Decade)

Image © Artistmaterial

Here is another Poems of the Decade essay, this time on the question:

Explore the ways in which poets present the theme of education and social class in ‘Out of the Bag’ by Seamus Heaney and ‘Poetry’ by Tom Leonard

Click here to download the file (PDF)

‘Poetry’ was an unseen poem – it isn’t currently available online (that I can find), but you can read other poems by Tom Leonard on his website.



Commentary From Roderick Ford on ‘Giuseppe’

Image – Sicily © Radio Times

A follower of this blog, Anees Malik, has generously shared with us an email she received from Roderick Ford (the poet who wrote ‘Giuseppe’) detailing his own inspiration for and interpretation of the poem, which you can read below. However, it is important to remember, as the poet himself states, that any interpretation is valid, and you will still gain marks in an exam for a reading of a text which does not match its writer’s intention. It is also useful to keep in mind that AO3 is not assessed in the modern poetry unit, so referencing Ford’s views will not automatically gain you marks unless you link it to your argument (in the A2 exam, it should also ideally be linked to the unseen poem).

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Sample Essay – Nature and Freedom

ESSAY – Nature and freedom


Here is a sample essay I wrote on how the question…

Compare the methods both poets use to explore the universal theme of nature and freedom in The Furthest Distances I’ve travelled and one other poem

I decided to write about the poems ‘The Furthest Distances I’ve Travelled’ and ‘History’. Feel free to use as exemplar material.

My only target was to be a little more succinct. “Comprehensive analysis with effective comparisons throughout. Also, interesting choice of 2nd poem”

By Ella

Essay Tips – Poetry Structure

Here is a simple outline of the structure that I try to follow when writing my essays. It  is not necessarily the best way to write, there are many other effective ways, so don’t think that if you don’t like this structure or have a preferred way of organising an essay that it is not correct.

Remember to include AO1, AO2 and AO4 in every paragraph.

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Essay – The Dire Demise of Blanche Dubois

Image © Joaquim Gaspar

‘Blanche’s demise is caused by her incapability to face the harsh reality of the changing face of America’ – responds to this comment and explore William’s dramatic presentation of Blanche.

A Streetcar Named Desire tells the tale where a woman is caught in a fatal inner contradiction, which suggests that she would function in another society but not this new society of America. William’s makes it evident that the demise of Blanche Dubois was a consequence of several significant events in her life as one discovers as the play progresses; however it is her incapability to come to terms with the harsh reality of the changing face of America, which is more prominent in the pivotal years after World War II. It is this which escalates the whole tragic process and it can be argued that the males of the play, in particular Stanley Kowalski, represent New America.

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Look We Have Coming to Dover! – Revision Notes

Image: White Cliffs© NOTE BENE

‘So various, so beautiful, so new…’ – Matthew Arnold, ‘Dover Beach’
This epigraph reminds us of the powerful literary heritage of Dover. Matthew Arnold’s poem is a famous poem written in 1851 which expresses society’s growing anxiety about the modern secular world. Nagra’s poem also echoes Arnold’s in the implied presence of  beloved to whom the poem is addressed. In contrast to Arnold’s poem, however, the title’s exclamation mark is expressive of an energetic optimism which sets the tone for what follows.

‘Look we Have Coming to Dover’ by Daljit Nagra alerts us to concepts of England and Englishness which are gleefully dismantled in the rest of the poem.

The title is grammatically incorrect, setting the context for a speaker for whom English is a second language. The mention of Dover, one of the key entry points into the UK for immigrants, legal and illegal, provides a further clue as to the narrative voice. Dover is also a deeply resonant English location, its famous white cliffs, a cultural shorthand for the country history as an island power.

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