AS Comparison Grid

Finally finished! I couldn’t be bothered mucking around with colour-coding so the link to section is a bit tricky to follow.

In brackets is the theme I would suggest comparing the poem to another. The numbers beneath the theme in brackets represent the poems with those numbers in the selection There may be two or three suggested comparisons, covering different themes or maybe a couple of suggestions for the same one. E.g.

(Darker side of love) 3, 9, 22

This means I’d compare this poem to 3. Sonnet 11 (Wroth), 9. Go, Lovely Rose! (Waller) or 22. Sonnet 54 (Spenser) in relation to the negative elements or power of love.

Remember, this is not a definitive list of the poems you should compare, but rather my personal take on the collection. I’d suggest you make sure you revise thoroughly the key points about two poems covering each of the themes I’ve listed below; this way you’re pretty much covered for the comparison question and can enter the exam with confidence and not panicking about whether the extract question will give you a lovely poem or one you hate.

Themes:

Darker side of love
Power of love
Mortality/carpe diem
Religion
Duty vs. carefree
Nature

Title Themes Summary Link to…
1. Why So Pale and Wan, Fond Lover? Lovesickness, darker side of love, power of love. Our poetic voice questions and mocks his friends mood which has been destroyed by his feelings of unfulfilled love. Feels his behaviour is embarrassing and tells him to move on.  (Darker side of love)

3, 9, 22

2. What Thing is Love? Love, darker side of love Peele looks back on his experience of love and talks about his mixed feelings about it. We get both the negatives and positives, which demonstrate its power, but gives an overwhelmingly positive perception looking back.

  (Darker side of love)

3, 19

3. Sonnet 11 (Wroth) Darker side of love, depression, misery, life and love A sharp break up to her relationship has left Wroth on the verge of suicide. She moans about her pain, associated with torture; then begs for her love to be restored; then threatens to bad mouth love; before pleading for help.

 (Darker side of love)

1, 2

4. Sigh No More, Ladies Love, darker side of love, meaning of life, seize the day (carpe diem), Coping with loss A song designed to sooth ladies with a broken heart by slagging off men as being serially unfaithful (but letting them off on account it is their nature) and telling women not to get downhearted, but to get on with their lives and be happy.

 (Darker side of love)

5

5. Weep You No More, Sad Fountains Coping with loss, mortality, familial love Another song to sooth those who have lost someone, but this time not in relation to romantic love rather death. Suggestion this is about Eliz. I. Idea that in death there is peace and tranquillity as we move past earthly troubles.

 (Darker side of love)

4

6. When I Was Fair and Young Mortality, beauty, carpe diem Queen Elizabeth I reflects on missed opportunities she squandered for love when she was young and desirable. She feels the pain she caused all the potential lovers she scorned as now all she wants is to feel romantically fulfilled, but has lost her youth and beauty and thus desirability.  (Mortality/carpe diem)

7

7. They Flee From Me, That Sometime Did Me Seek Mortality, loss of love, sexuality, beauty, carpe diem Another example of someone feeling the effects of aging. The poem starts off with a reminiscence of the past promiscuity of its poetic voice and enjoys the memory, but laments the loss of that state and of one particular girl. This girl, potentially Anne Boleyn, seems to have had him under her thumb, but his tameness meant she strayed, searching for someone new and exciting. He wishes to know if she got her just rewards – she did if it’s Anne.  (Mortality/carpe diem)

6, 27

8. Sonnet 61 (Drayton) Loss of love, dark side of love, sexuality, carpe diem(?) This is a miserable, but lovely poem about someone trying to come to terms with a breakup, possibly because of his lady friends lack of fidelity. He tries to convince us that he will be able to leave this girl amicably and not be affected emotionally, but throughout the poem there are anguished expressions and at the end he reveals his true state, linked to death, and wishes that the girl would tell him everything can go back to how it was. Sad!

 (Darker side of love)

11

9. Go Lovely Rose, Go! Sexuality, mortality, carpe diem Not the sort of love poem you’d want to send on Valentine’s day unless you want a slap. The poetic voice sends a rose to a girl he likes so that it can show her the temporary nature of beauty and demonstrate that she should be making the most of her looks and youth, while she has them, by withering in front of her – all to convince her to sleep with him.

 (Darker side of love)

1, 33

10. No Crooked Leg, No Bleared Eye Jealousy A tiny poem where Elizabeth I bitches about her half sister’s suspicious mind that has led to her imprisoning Elizabeth for fear of her being used to head a revolt against her reign.

 DON’T BOTHER!

The only sensible comparison is with (28) Blow, blow

11. Sonnet 31 (Sidney) Nature, loss of love, lovesickness A lovesick individual seeks fellowship with the moon whose physical features resemble those of a distressed lover and who has a historical association with unrequited love. He then peppers the moon with questions about whether dedicated lovers and the faithful are mocked and unappreciated in the heavens as well as on Earth.

 (Darker side of love)

8

12. Written the Night Before His Execution Mortality, carpe diem, nature A young Catholic sentenced to death for his role in a plot to overthrow Elizabeth I laments the inevitable loss of his life before his life has really begun or been fulfilled. However, he recognises his demise was inevitable as a result of his birth as a Catholic and the situation requiring him to fight for his faith, he perhaps positions himself as a martyr.

 (Mortality/carpe diem)

13, 14

13. The Author’s Epitaph Mortality, regret, religion, carpe diem Raleigh had a wonderful life, but was condemned to be executed after plotting against the new King, James I. In this poem he takes a bitter and resentful look at death, its inevitability and how cold and empty it is, taking away our joy and ending our stories with silence. There is a suggestion that Raleigh doubts whether salvation and heaven will await him or anyone as his trust has been let down before.

(Mortality/carpe diem)

12

14. A Litany In Time of Plague  Mortality, religion A fairly miserable reaction to the seemingly unstoppable plague sweeping through Europe. This poem highlights how no one is safe, not even wealth, beauty, strength or wit is enough to fend off the disease. However, our only hope of salvation comes from repenting and hoping to ascend to heaven.

(Mortality/carpe diem)

12

(Religion)

23, 30

15. Sonnet 19 (Wroth)  Mortality, loss of love, nature Wroth has lost her love and is enjoying wallowing in misery. She shuns the light and treats the absence of her former passions like death through pathetic fallacy and the descent of the natural world to winter and the trees and leaves serving as mourners at her funeral.

 (Darker side of love)

28

(Mortality/carpe diem)

29

(Nature)

16

16. From Underwoods Mortality, beauty, love, carpe diem, nature A lovely little poem celebrating a friend in death. Jonson highlights that a short existence can still be beautiful, fulfilled and mean a lot to others through comparing the ugliness of the long standing oak with the dazzling beauty and perfection of a lilly that dies after a single day.  (Nature)

15

(Power of love)

20

17. Fear No More The Heat O’ Th’ Sun  Mortality, nature, religion Shakespeare’s poem from Cymbeline tells the tale of mourning friends trying to sooth their deceased brethren (actually turns out to be their sister and she’s alive) and sooth themselves by claiming death is an end to all worldly strife and struggle – illustrated in a variety of ways, not least of which being the metaphorical extreme weather conditions. However, the ending may suggest this peaceful afterlife is something they are not absolutely convinced about.

(Mortality)

12, 35

(Religion)

14

18. A Song  Love/romance, beauty, mortality, nature A lovely romantic poem/a soppy sexist mess of a poem (me vs. my class). Carew pretends to be frustrated by questions about what happens to nature’s beauty when it is absence seasonally, but really uses this frustration as a rhetorical device to allow him to heap praise on his sweetheart. He describes her through hyperbolic comparison to nature’s most beautiful features and gives her immortality through his connection with the phoenix as if her beauty can never be forgotten by the world.

 (Power of love)

20, 21

19. Walsingham  Darker side of love, power of love, mortality Raleigh uses a conversation between two people to highlight his ideas about love. One man is looking for his former love and lamenting the fact she has left him. However, they agree in the end that her words of love to him were nothing more than youthful, feminine lust. Real love is presented as being constant and always faithful.

 (Darker side of love)

2

20. The Flowers That On The Banks and Walks Did Grow  Nature, power of love, mortality This poem is filled with pathetic fallacy showing the garden and house of Cookham are in deep mourning at the death of Margaret Clifford. Lanyer was patronised by Clifford and spent much of her youth at Cookham and this poem is a big thank you for everything.

 (Power of love)

18

(Nature)

16, 36

21. Come Live with me, and be my Love  Nature, power of love A pastoral poem trying to woo a lady with the promise of an idyllic life in the country, nominally as a shepherd, but really in some luxury. Gifts made from the finest natural elements are meant to tempt her away. (Power of love)

18

(Nature)

25

22. Sonnet 54 (Spenser)  Darker side of love, theatre This is a poem that bemoans a woman being completely unmoved by a man’s actions. The theatre and the different type of plays the wannabe lover claims to be adept in, are really different aspects or spheres of life. He is left feeling confused and frustrated by her lack of interest in him.

(Darker side of love)

1

(Theatre – not a major theme)

23

23. What is Our Life?  Religion, mortality, theatre Raleigh explores his ideas about the purpose of life. He positions life as being dedicated to passion (love and romance) with joyful moments and judgement from above, drawing similarities between these elements of life and drama, musical interludes and the demanding spectators. This comparison allows him to trivialise the importance of life as a play is short and ultimately unimportant.

 (Religion)

14

(Theatre – not a major theme)

22

24. Sonnet 75 (Spenser) Power of love, mortality Spenser is still the lovesick little puppy we saw in Sonnet 54, but now he has the affections of Elizabeth Boyle and it seems they are out for a nice trip to the beach. He writes her name in the sand only for it to be washed away, for which she chastises him for trying to make a mortal become immortal. However, he tells her he will make her last forever in his poetry.

(Power of love)

26

25. Spring, the Sweet Spring  Nature, carpe diem, mortality This is about praising the beauty and life that Spring produces. If you live in a country without seasons… Uganda… be aware that the English Spring is the time trees blossom, lambs are born and everything starts to warm up; it is a season associated with celebration as the winter has been banished and the world becomes pretty and fertile again. However, it is also praising some of the things Spring might represent. For instance, the beginning of a relationship can and is linked to the Spring.

 (Nature)

21

26. Sonnet 18 (Shakespeare)  Power of love, mortality, nature First of all, this is one of the most celebrated and oft quoted poems in the world. Personally, I think the sentiment is a bit much, but sweet as well I suppose. This is a celebration of a girl’s beauty through comparison with the Summer, a reflection on mortality and a promise to transcend death through poetry. Very, very similar to Spenser’s Sonnet 75 (which for my money is a much nicer piece of poetry)

(Power of love)

24

27. Sonnet 73 (Shakespeare)  Nature, mortality, power of love This poem is all about love, but particularly love in association with mortality as it explores the idea of ageing and the effect it has on other’s feelings towards you – intensifying love. The poet describes himself as an old man through comparison with nature and seems filled with regret as he hints at the joys and happiness of his youth. This is not so much about an impending death, but more the death or end of youthful joy.

(Mortality/carpe diem)

7

28. Blow, Blow Thou Winter Wind  Nature, friendship, betrayal, darker side of love This poem is another song taken from a Shakespeare play; this time it’s As You Like It. Pathetic fallacy is used throughout to compare the harsh and bitter winter weather with a friendship turned sour and forgotten with friendship seemingly the more painful and difficult to endure.

(Darker side of love)

15

(Betrayal – not a major theme)

10

29. The Procession of the Seasons  Nature, power of love, mortality This poem follows the cycle of the seasons presenting each as a reflection on human life, from childhood to old ages. Spring is the warrior age of energy and romance, giving way to the mature beauty of Summer that still bursts with energy, but is now more controlled and skilful like a hunter. Autumn is the farmer, mature and contented with life and the happy memories generated, but no longer filled with the vigour of youth. Finally, Winter is presented as a feeble old man crumbling towards the grave in a miserable state.

(Mortality/carpe diem)

15

30. The Man of Life Upright  Religion, mortality, duty vs. carefree This poem is all about how to live a contented life. It seems to describe the life of someone who dedicates their existence to God and avoiding the temptations of the world. You could read this as being about a celibate priestly existence or maybe a hermit abandoning all of life’s temptations. Through following religious doctrine and avoiding other temptations a person is shown to be able to live free from worries, cares or troubles.

 (Religion)

14

31. A Mind Content  Duty vs. carefree This poem sings the praises of a life without worries and troubles and contrasts the life of a prince (who has to worry about all his people, his land, his palaces, his wealth) and a beggar (who has nothing at all).

 (Duty vs carefree)

32, 34

32. I Grieve, and Dare Not Show My Discontent  Darker side of love, regret, duty vs. carefree This poem is about someone having to hide their true emotions, as Queen Elizabeth hides her unhappiness at being unable to marry a potential suitor. However, can also be perceived to be more generally about someone in a role of great responsibility having to act and behave in a manner contrary to their own heart.

 (Duty vs carefree)

31, 34

33. To Celia  Darker side of love, power of love, mortality, nature Bless this poem, I’m torn between thinking of Jonson’s lover as the hapless geek in the featured image and something a bit more sinister. This is about obsessive lover who wants nothing other than the object of this poem’s lamentation. However, probably advisably, this girl is having nothing to do with him.

 (Darker side of love)

9

34. Golden Slumbers  Duty vs carefree Believe it or not, this is a lullaby designed to send a little baby off to the land of nod. It is about one person (mother or father) dealing with all the worries of another so they can be truly relaxed and serene.

 (Duty vs carefree)

31, 32

35. Full Fathom Five Mortality, nature

A song/poem from Shakespeare’s The Tempest telling a fictitious story of the death of Ferdinand’s father, the King of Naples, in a storm at sea. This seems to be a celebration of his death almost praising him and his worth through comparison to the ocean’s most treasured wonders.

 (Mortality/carpe diem)

17

36. A Farewell to the Reader  Power of love, nature I see this poem as using nature to again represent human emotion. The flowers being given represent the poetic voice’s heart and love, but there is a calm plea to treat the flowers with respect and not damage them if they are not to the receiver’s fancy. She’s acknowledges that sometimes people don’t reciprocate feelings, but there is no need to break another’s heart by scorning their affections.

 (Nature)

20

Author: Mr Sir

Although I've only been teaching Literature since 2011 and did my degree in History, I think that makes me better placed than many Lit teachers to provide notes that make sense and aren't garbled and wrapped up with inaccessible terminology and effluent nonsense. After adventures in Uganda and Uzbekistan, I am now settling down in the Netherlands. However, currently I am just about as unsettled as I have ever been, with a new job, a new baby, a new country and a hundred other things going on! Ask me a question, collaborate or abuse me.

6 thoughts on “AS Comparison Grid”

  1. Have you included the poem “Song” by lady mary wroth? I think it would be quite useful to my cause if you would. Thanks

    1. Not in this collection, you will have to wait for me to get around to the next lot. I just need to finish my Christina Rossetti section and then I will make a start on the new selections.

  2. I am really sorry but I don’t really understand how to use this grid. Can you explain a little regarding its usage as in what to compare with what?

    1. It’s not finished yet, but when it is, it will suggest good poems to compare in relation to the major themes to assist with the comparison question on your exam paper. I have an almost finished draft and I’ve almost finished my school term, so it’s on its way.

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