1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.
  2. Hi Guest, welcome to the TES Community!

    Connect with like-minded education professionals and have your say on the issues that matter to you.

    Don't forget to look at the how to guide.

    Dismiss Notice

GCSE - structure and theme in poetry- Help!

Discussion in 'English' started by auntyn, Sep 8, 2018.

  1. auntyn

    auntyn New commenter

    I tutor GCSE students. I would appreciate it if someone could recommend any books which will make it easier for me to teach how the structure of a poem can relate to the theme. My students are at foundation level and find this concept very difficult to understand.
    pepper5 likes this.
  2. blueskydreaming

    blueskydreaming Lead commenter

    I have no books to suggest I'm afraid.

    Structure includes elements such as the length of the lines and stanzas; use of end-stopping or enjambment; pauses; rhythm or rhyme; repetition... So, if you consider a poem like Belfast Confetti you could say that the use of enjambment illustrates the speaker's confusion as they are caught up in a riot - so the structure links to the theme of confusion amid violence. If they are foundation could they just look for lines that don't have punctuation at the end, and think about what the poem is about and what emotion the author is trying to create? Tell them to read it in their head - does the lack/inclusion of punctuation make you read faster or slower? They could think about the shape of the poem - what does it look like? Neat, round, sharp etc. For example, to me, the poem Prayer Before Birth looks like the line on a heart beat monitor, when you turn it on its side, which links to who is speaking the poem (an unborn child).

    What exam board are your kids doing? Do you have to link structure to themes? Can you not just link to effects, and put something about themes in their essay intro?
    Naylm and pepper5 like this.
  3. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    hi auntyn

    Many students even at the higher levels find the concept of how structure is related to themes difficult to understand. In addition to blueskydreamings clear explanation about structure, some texts/study guides also refer to structure as the way the ideas in the poem are ordered; so structure can mean different things as well.

    I enjoy watching Mr Bruff's analysis on topics such as structure in poems and also his analysis of poems and you might find those useful to watch then perhaps take some ideas you can use.

    BSD's idea about linking the structure to effects is excellent while writing about the themes in the introduction.

    Take it in very small steps and they will pick it up.:)
  4. MrMedia

    MrMedia Star commenter

    Yes, I’m afraid book based teaching of this sort of thing is very difficult. You are teaching them reader response. Thus they use their own interpretation skills to blend into the essay an awareness of structure.

    Working on making poems more three dimensional can help. Give them scissors, plasticine and other tools to construct a 3D map of the poem. Charge of the light brigade is a good one to use as Tennyson uses meter and other features to recreate the noise and movement of a battlefield.

    An IWB can also be helpful for this sort of thing.
    pepper5 likes this.
  5. roamingteacher

    roamingteacher Established commenter Forum guide

  6. roamingteacher

    roamingteacher Established commenter Forum guide

  7. gruoch

    gruoch Established commenter

    I swear by 'The Art of Poetry' - available from Amazon
    auntyn and pepper5 like this.
  8. auntyn

    auntyn New commenter

    Thanks to everyone for your suggestions. Much appreciated.
    pepper5 likes this.
  9. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Books by David Wheeler I find useful.
  10. Imtellingonyou

    Imtellingonyou New commenter

    Could you please explain this further as I am new to analysing poetry in this way and it sounds great.

    Many thanks
    pepper5 likes this.
  11. MrMedia

    MrMedia Star commenter

    All features are designed to draw the reader's attention for a purpose. An inverted trochee in Tyger Tyger emphasising the questioning, the falling anapaest in Charge of the Light Brigades firing cannons and so forth. To the untrained eye, the poem looks flat, lifeless and simply containing words. To the trained eye, you see and appreciate the features rather like an artist appreciateS the thicker brush strokes or layered impasto in a painting.
    Allowing them to add 'physical' texture to the poem by cutting it up, adding peaks and troughs through plasticine - they begin to create and see the texture which the poet has added. They then write an analytical essay and in the essay they will at last not just talk about features, but also about the impact they have on the poem.
    pepper5 likes this.
  12. armandine2

    armandine2 Established commenter

    TCOTLB - could be read flat or even anomic, as rapidly produced newsprint can elicit a response to modern war reporting, perhaps. Scenic poetry happier commenting on the theme of war commentary rather than risking a wholly premature insight as to the war's yet to be found deep themes.
    pepper5 likes this.
  13. bevmaydon

    bevmaydon New commenter

    I also tutor and find the CGP books a godsend.
    pepper5 likes this.
  14. rustyfeathers

    rustyfeathers Occasional commenter

    Mr Bruff on Youtube.
    CGP books.
    pepper5 likes this.
  15. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    David Wheeler has also written some very useful books on poetry and the GCSE exams.

    I highly recommend those as they are good investments and can be referred to over and over again.
  16. Charlie925

    Charlie925 New commenter

    Some of the go to structure ideas that help foundation students is that enjambment often means ongoing - e.g. what is continuous or on going in the poem? The Duke's power and range of manipulative control, the on going suffering of the soldiers. End stopping often can easily be the end of something, e.g. end of sanity for the soldier in remains or end of life.
    Often a rhyme scheme that is all over the place suggests that the speaker's mind or the content of the poem is erratic, e.g. charge of the light brigade and chaos. Whilst fixed rhyme or blank verse (iambic pentameter) suggest a focus and power, e.g. Ozymandias or My last duchess
  17. SelectMyTutor

    SelectMyTutor New commenter

    There are many books which are helpful in poetry writing. I suggest you some books like
    • The Year Comes Round: Haiku Through the Seasons by Sid Farrar and illustrated by Ilse Plume
    • Guyku: A Year of Haiku for Boys by Bob Raczka and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds

Share This Page