iGCSE Poetry

Welcome to the site! First of all let me assure you that you’ve made the right choice; studying Literature is the best thing in the world and in my mind is one of the most useful subjects for preparing your brain for adulthood and university level discussion and debate.

I am pretty hot on responding to comments and requests, so please don’t hesitate to post your questions. Also, the site has had some fantastic contributions from students over the last year or so and I would love for that to continue. Feel free to submit essays or any presentations or bits and bobs you’ve found useful. However, be aware that I might not always have the time to offer feedback or detailed advice.

Hopefully by now you know which set of poems you are going to study, but if not this might help get you organised. Each of the links here will take you to the contents page for one of the poetry selections being examined by CIE, which contains not only all my analysis for the poems, but helpful documents I have used, annotated student essays and any student developed resources submitted to the website.

2 thoughts on “iGCSE Poetry”

  1. Dear Mr. Sir,

    I’ll be appearing for my O level examinations in a little while, and I have a question on how to structure my essays. If, for instance, we’re dealing with a poem, and we’re given a question on how the writer presents the central theme, is it best to go stanza wise or should you allocate a separate paragraph for each literary device? In either case, how should I structure my introduction? Morever, can you deal with a single point in more than one paragraph, provided that it is extremely detailed?

    And in the case of questions on short stories, there aren’t specific literary devices to deal with like in poetry. It’s a lot more complex, especially if there’s character analysis involved. How should I go about it there? In extract based questions in particular, it’s extremely difficult to set out what you’re going to talk about because usually you’re just pickin up on words and explaining their significance. I realise this is extremely vague, but if you have any advice or tips at all for questions on short stories, do help! I’m totally new to the fact that candidates are required to structure essays so specifically, my teacher never guided me on this!

    Hope you’re doing great, and thank you for this website 🙂

    PS: Sorry for a terribly long comment!

    1. Hi Mariam,

      Apologies for the delay, time is really in short supply for me at the moment.

      In terms of structuring your paragraphs, I would always advise against just blindly providing a stanza by stanza analysis as you may fall into the trap of just retelling what is happening in the poem, rather than really getting into the nitty gritty of analysis. Instead, outline the key points you can make to answer the question and begin with the strongest of these. These points do not necessarily need to be limited to one literary device and it might be an effect that is created with multiple devices or phrases in combination.

      It is better to begin sounding like a genius with an excellently constructed opening body paragraph than to begin slowly. When I mark I make a judgement very early on. If I think after one paragraph you are a genius, you will spend the rest of the essay having to convince me you’re not. Alternatively if you sound like you have no clue what you’re talking about, my mindset will need some serious convincing to move you back up the bands. This shouldn’t be the case, but I suspect many people react like this.

      In regards to a single point expanding beyond one paragraph – yes, absolutely you can. It really depends on the poem and what you have to say, but if there are two fantastic metaphors that contribute to a particular point you want to make and both require some really detailed and developed explanation and analysis, then by all means spill out into a new paragraph.

      I hope you don’t mind, but I will skip the Short Stories questions as I’ve never actually taught the Short Stories (although essays here would follow the same structure as any literature essay really). You’re right that they have less literary devices though, and I would always caution against analysing solely with a focus on spotting devices anyway as your real job is to explain and show how the writer has created meaning. Literary devices are a part of this, but not always a crucial one.

      Apologies once again for the delay and I sincerely hope that some of this makes some sense and is helpful.

      Cheers,

      Mr Sir

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