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Discussing the Conceptual in English: A Concrete Classroom Strategy

It all too easy sometimes to get lost in the small stuff of textual analysis. The micro. The single words and images. This is, it goes without saying, key to any literary discussion, but so is the macro. The big stuff. The conceptual. How might we build into our classroom routines more opportunity for such... Continue Reading →

An Analysis: Love’s Philosophy

Throughout the poem Shelley refers to the speaker’s love by comparing it to natural imagery and the natural order. He uses this imagery in order to try and seduce the woman he is addressing: he is attempting to justify why the woman should be with him by referencing how nature works in the world. Thus,... Continue Reading →

An Analysis: Walking Away by Cecil Day-Lewis

What is it about? A father, the speaker, watches his son play football at school. As his son walks away from him he becomes worried that their relationship has fundamentally changed, since his son is growing up and becoming more independent. However, the speaker comes to realise that this is an experience all parents have... Continue Reading →

An Analysis: Winter Swans by Owen Sheers

The poem begins with the weather mimicking the emotion of the couple: ‘The clouds had given their all –’. At a literal level, this image is referencing how the clouds have expended all of their rain. However, at a more symbolic level it reflects how the couple are emotionally exhausted and how the relationship is... Continue Reading →

An Analysis: When We Two Parted by Lord Byron

Context & Plot Byron's fellow Romantic poet William Wordsworth once remarked that poetry was the ‘spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings’ and one notices that in this poem the speaker is certainly coming to terms with ‘powerful feelings’.Byron was known to be an especially licentious and promiscuous individual and thus it is no surprise to find... Continue Reading →

An Analysis: Neutral Tones by Thomas Hardy

Context, Plot and Connections Despite being best known as a novelist, Hardy also had a fruitful poetic career. This particular poem is very typical of his general style as evident in other works: it is bleak, melancholy and pessimistic.What is the poem about? The speaker recalls a memory of when he and his lover stood... Continue Reading →

How I Teach the GCSE Poetry Anthology

I really dislike the given AQA Poetry Anthology, not the poems, but the actual physical anthology. My students do too. In fact, I dislike it so much that I set about creating an alternative, that, whilst of course biased, I feel is far superior. This post is about what is included in this alternative and... Continue Reading →

An Analysis: Heaney’s ‘Follower’

One of my favourite (if not the favourite) poems in the GCSE Love and Relationships AQA Anthology, Seamus Heaney's 'Follower' is a wonderful poem. Stylistically complex and emotionally rich in equal measure, the below represents a detailed analysis of the poem. I've used it in the past as part of a strategy of flipped teaching... Continue Reading →

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