iGCSE – Songs of Ourselves – Volume 2, Part 1 (Love and Family)

IGCSE is probably the first time you’ve had to do any serious analytical writing about poetry and this site is designed to help you along the way with your journey. Alongside analysis of each of the poems in your selection, you will find a range of useful resources including student essay responses, the mark criteria, essay writing tips and whatever else I feel might come in handy for you.

However, the purpose of this site, and my analysis in particular, is not to provide you with a cheat sheet or the definitive answers, but rather to help explain some of the key ideas and ease you into developing your own interpretation.

Here is a brief summary of how I organise my analysis:

Analysis Breakdown


1. The Clod and the Pebble (William Blake)
Pupil Analysis – (Riya Yadav)

2. Song (Lady Mary Wroth)
Pupil Analysis – (Yolomon)

4. Passion (Kathleen Rain)
Pupil Analysis (Anushka Kulkami)

7. Love (III) (George Herbert)
8. Lovers’ Infiniteness (John Donne)
11. ‘She was a Phantom of Delight’ (William Wordsworth)
14. Tiger in the Menagerie (Emma Jones)

16. lion heart (Amanda Chong)
19. Heart and Mind (Edith Sitwell)
20. For My Grandmother Knitting (Liz Lochhead)
23. Father Returning Home (Dilip Chitre)
Pupil Analysis (Arnav Gupta)

25. The Lost Woman… (Patricia Beer)
26. Stabat Mater (Sam Hunt)
Pupil Analysis (Krati Jain)

27. Coming Home (Owen Sheers)

Song of Ourselves Volume 2 Love and Family – Word document with all the poems in. Perfect for quick printing.
How to Write the Perfect Essay – analysis of the way I would approach essay writing.
Mark Criteria – a description of how your essays and exams will be marked.

145 thoughts on “iGCSE – Songs of Ourselves – Volume 2, Part 1 (Love and Family)

  1. Hi,
    I found your set of analyses a brilliant reference; always my first go-to site for IGCSE poetry. However, I didn’t find anything on the poem Last Sonnet by John Keats, even in your printable list of poems. Just wondering if you had accidently missed out that one, or would not be planning to write an analysis on it. Be great if you could let me know! Also, do you know any good sites to refer to for prose and drama? Thank you so much! 🙂

    • Hi Arthi,

      Thanks for the comment and glad the site has been helpful.

      I think ‘Last Sonnet’ was added at a later date by the exam board and not originally mentioned as one of the texts for the selection. However, I could be wrong and simply have missed it. I will add it to my list of things to do, but be aware that my list is pretty ridiculous at the moment and I’ve been severely neglecting the site. So, don’t hold your breath. 🙁


      Mr Sir

  2. Hello Mr. Sir
    I was hoping if you could read through my analysis for one of the poems? I understand that you must be busy, however it would really mean a lot to me if you could help understand my mistakes and strengths through that analysis.

    Thank you

    • Hi Mahima,

      I’d love to, but I simply don’t have the time. Head over to the essay tab and you will find a number of essays and essay support posts that might help give you a good idea if you’re doing the right thing or not.


      Mr Sir

  3. Hi!
    I was just wondering whether “Last Sonnet” by John Keats would be added soon.It was added to the syllabus as well.

    • Hi Rafael,

      I wouldn’t hold your breath as I really haven’t got any spare time at the moment and I am trying to finish off the AS section currently. It will eventually materialise though, at some distant point in the future.


      Mr Sir

  4. Hi! I was just wondering if the links would start working again soon.Love your work and managed to get top in my class due to your analysis.

    • Hi Rafael,

      Good to hear I’ve helped you move up the ladder! All the links should be working again, but please let me know if you encounter any issues.


      Mr Sir

    • Still? Strange, I will investigate.

      Edit: Yeah, I didn’t finish fixing everything! This section should now be working though 😀

  5. Hi Mr Sir,

    A few months ago I discovered this site and it was working perfectly. I used it to pass my mocks, but now it does not seem to be working and I was therefore wondering when and if these links will be up and running again?


    • Hi Steve,

      Glad the site has been helpful. You’ll be glad to hear all the links are up and running again, so you should be able to access everything again. Please let me know if you have any problems.


      Mr Sir

  6. Hi, I have found your work recently and it has been very helpful. I am doing the songs of ourselves, volume 2, love and family section for international english literature. Unfortunately none of the links to the poems seem to be working now. Will they possibly be available in the future? Also is it necessary to know every poem for the exam or can a few be focused on and do a general question in the exam?

    • Hi Trace,

      I’ve had a few issues with the site over the last couple of days. I am now aware of this issue and working to resolve it, so hopefully they should all be working fine soon.

      It is not necessary to know every poem really well, but it is useful to know them all. Usually exams will give you a choice of questions – 1 that is fixed to a particular poem, another that might be theme based without a prescribed poem and another comparison non prescribed. However, I haven’t checked in the last year whether this is still the case – need to really.


      Mr Sir

  7. Hey Mr Sir, it would be helpful if you did an analysis on the poem Last Sonnet by John Keats. I think its new to the syllabus for 2017. It should be easy for you.

  8. Hi, Will you be taking up any answers for marking? And I wanted to know if it would be prudent to leave out any poems which were there in the previous batch’s igcse board exam Since there is a high possibility those won’t be repeated.

  9. Hello Mr Sir,
    Could you please add the analysis for the poem Last Sonnet by John Keats…Your analysis is so detailed and helpful, so could you release the analysis for the Last Sonnet???

      • It’s part of the 2017 IGCSE English Literature Exam Sir…
        They’ve added Last Sonnet to the 14 poems that were already there… Its a new poem, in the set of Songs of Ourselves…
        By the way, your analysis tho…B-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l!! Simple and easy to understand.. Love it


      • Have they added a poem to the collection? That seems very odd, but I will check and get back to you.

        Thanks for the compliment, glad my notes have been of some help.

        Mr Sir

  10. Thank you Sir for the help that i received from your site…..My students gave me four A stars out of eight in the igcse 2016.

  11. Greetings, Mr Sir
    Your site has helped me a lot, and i have just received my IGCSE literature result- A*(98)
    I am realyyyyy happy and I thank you so muchhh for your help!

  12. Hii…..this is tge first time i m attempting and exam for IGCSE english literature. I have a small confusion. Do we get to select the stories we want to answer on and the poems as well???

    • Hi Nabzz,

      There is some choice generally (I am speaking about poetry here, but I am sure the stories work in the same way) in terms of questions offering some flexibility. Usually one question has a specific poem attached to it, while the other two ask you to explore one or two poems and how they relate to a particular theme (this is almost always free choice of which poems you want to use, within the selection).

      Hope this helps,

      Mr Sir

  13. This is such a useful website ❤ Am writing this year and it has been of great help. Thank you so much .
    I just wanted to know or get help on how to answer questions because I read and revise my poems and short stories but still find it hard to tackle the questions especially drama. : Merchant of Venice and short stories . Please give me practice questions for Shakespeare’s MOV and a possible way of tackling the task at hand. Thank you ????????????

    • Hi Queen ZH,

      Thanks for the compliments on the site: I try my best.

      However, I am strictly focused on poetry, so no chance of help elsewhere as it would just be a case of spreading myself too thinly.


      Mr Sir

  14. There are lots of sites out there with big old lists, but I do need to get round to adding one on here.

    I will get in touch when it is done, but please don’t hold your breath.


    Mr Sir

  15. Thank you so much, your site has been an actual blessing. I learnt how to organise my answers and use paragraphs instead of jumbling up my thoughts and just hoping I’m understood. Your analyses have helped me so much, especially the one on ‘Song’ which I practised and was able to answer in the exam. This site has helped me so much and I just really appreciate the work you’ve put into it.

  16. I would just like to say a huge thank you for your clear explanation and analysis on these poems. I was really struggling on some of these poems and you gave a helpful insight. Thanks to you I feel as though I aced my question on Tiger in the Menagerie in my GCSE! Your hard work in creating this website is really appreciated!

  17. You certainly are a star !! This was o helpful as i have my IGCSE exam in a few days . Thank you for your help.

  18. Dear Mr.Sir,

    I just wanted to start of by commenting on how greatly your analysis of poems have helped. I truly appreciate your tremendous work that you provide for free and I hope you attain great success.

    However, I also wanted to know if I could write down all my points like this:

    Synopsis / Summary
    Followed by bullet points

    before writing my essay.
    Thank You

    • Hi Abu,

      I realise this is definitely too late for you now, but to address your point:

      You could certainly do this as a sort of essay plan before writing. My advice would be to cross through your plan when you are done to make it clear to the examiner that it is not part of your essay. However, stopping and having a think about the relevant points needed to answer a particular question is always a good idea.


      Mr Sir

  19. Hi Mr Sir,
    Your notes on the poems section is really helping me out but i would really appreciate if you could help me out with All My Sons and The Merchant of Venice too with any sort of essay answers or notes. My exams are in 3-4 days and really need good practice questions and notes on these.
    Thank You.

  20. You really are a lifesaver Mr.Sir
    For year try writing analysis’s on Cambridge O/L Drama’s eg.Merchant of Venice.
    I love what you do
    You deserve am award 🙂

  21. Hi,
    Could you make a document or small section with the different dramatic techniques. You don’t need to include all. Just the most used ones in the poems. Thanks in advance 🙂
    It would really help me in the upcoming literature exam. Please reply or acknowledge as soon as possible

  22. Dear Mr. Sir,
    I was going through the IGCSE Literature Learner Guide and I found the following point:
    “Make sure you set poetry quotations out properly. If you are quoting a line or perhaps two lines, you should indent one or both lines and follow the line arrangement of the original (so don’t re-write the lines as prose).”
    Could you please explain to me what this means?
    Thank you

    • It basically means that you have to respect the layout of the author’s poem. If the line has any punctuation or splits in a single word line, you have to do the same and not right it like a story, word after word. A little tip from my English teachers when it came to writing commentary essays for Literature, was to embed your quotes within your actual explanation.

      Example: Theme(s) of this poem is………….. and the author has different techniques and vocabulary to create this atmosphere. He/She has used the word “QUOTE” which has a positive/negative/neutral (etc…) connotation which outlines the initial mindset of the persona etc….”

      Also, remember to not use whole passages but key words and clear techniques to be analyzed individually. That goes for prose and poetry as some poems are quite descriptive and long.

      Wish you luck and success for your exams. 🙂

    • It means that when you are quoting a poem and it is over one line e.g:
      “I ne’er was struck before that hour
      with Love so sudden and so sweet,
      Her face it bloomed like a sweet flower
      And stole mu heart away complete”

      you quote it like this in your writing: “I ne’er was struck before that hour//with Love so sudden and so sweet” it the indents * // * to indicate a new line

  23. Hi Mr. Sir,
    Is it possible for you to post any practice essay questions on a few random poems in the collection? Since I think it is the first year for these poems so there doesn’t seem to be any questions I can find. I would be really helpful – especially with my exam coming up in 4 days.
    Thank You.

    • Hi Aravind,

      It is something I have been meaning to do, but I am swamped at the moment, so not going to get it done before your exam 🙁


      Mr Sir

      • Dude check those orange links they have questions if you want more send me a comment even I have exams on the 23rd.

  24. This has been helpful man. Much appreciated. If I scrape an A on my Literature, it’s because of you! 🙂

    All the best.

  25. Dear Sir,
    This website has literally been a lifesaver over the last few months. I am a home educated student and really want to practise writing some essays on the actual poems I have studied, but I am having difficulty finding any essay titles for the poems. Can you recommend any sites, or even just a few essay titles, yourself? Once again, thankyou for the excellent resource, keep it up!!

    • Hi Ruby,

      Good, glad it has helped. Let me know which poem(s) you want to look at and I can suggest some question.

      Pretty tough doing it all on your own, I’d imagine, so let me know where I can help and I will do my best 🙂

      Mr Sir

    • Hi Katniss,

      You shouldn’t be looking at a specific number of words, but rather aim to write 2 pages (depending on the size of your handwriting this might be a little to either side of this). If you’ve got four well developed body paragraphs, then you should be grand.


      Mr Sir

  26. Dear Mr. X

    Thank you for the notes, they surely came in handy. I have my board exam in May and its going to be very helpful of your notes.

  27. hello sir, can you create a table with the poems organized into the different thematic categories to help us with revision.
    thank you!

  28. sir.. as we cannot analyse every single line – is it decent to analyse few imp lines in a stanza and then move on to the next and again next till the very last stanza : in a chronological order? like create a flow of explanations like the order of poem. and maybe including few lines about poet , structure may help?

    • Hi Mr Jordon,

      Absolutely right that you can’t deal with every single line. I generally find the best idea is not just to run through the poem chronologically, mentioning every stanza, as this sometimes leads to simply narrative of the poem rather than analysis. It is better to examine the main ideas in the poem in relation to the question. So, for example, if I am ask to explore how Coming Home presents the idea of family I would maybe talk about 1) changing relationships from child to adult 2) comfort provided and support 3) unchanging nature of family support 4) connection to generations and constant bond.

      In order to make each of these points I will develop them with important quotations and ideas from across the poem. Often this is chronological or easier to present chronologically, but you don’t necessarily need to be restricted by chronology.

      Hope this helps,

      Mr Sir

    • Hi Willian,

      It’s difficult to say really, but I would recommend aiming for around 2 to 2 1/2 pages. It depends on a lot of factors though – size of handwriting, spacing, how quickly you write.


      Mr Sir

  29. Hey Mr. X

    Thanks a lot for doing this analysis!! This actually helped a lot. Do you mind doing it for a novella “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr.Hyde” by Robert Louis Stevenson or a drama by “All My Sons” by Arthur Miller.

    • Hi Star_shine,

      Glad you like the site. Unfortunately I have my hands full as it is, so there is no chance I will get around to adding notes for drama and novels, as much as I’d like to.


      Mr Sir

  30. Hey! My teacher said that in the introduction for any analysis essay I must include the literary, biographical and historical events relevant to the novel or poem and its subsequent impact. To what extent would you support this?

    • Hi Satyajit,

      My immediate reaction would be definitely not. There is no point in mentioning any contextual information unless it is in connection with your interpretation of the poem. It also depends on the particular question. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean they are wrong as I am not an oracle. Maybe ask them to explain this in more depth and give you an example. If they tell you to say when the poem was written, explain the poet’s background and set it in historical context, then I’d suggest they are leading you astray.

      Where are your teachers from? The British system doesn’t tend to reward simply reciting information like this, but instead is all about the quality of analysis.


      Mr Sir

  31. Thank you Mr sir for the tips on how to write a good essay .l really think this will be of good help in this term lam about to start in some weeks time .Thank you so much .and l know with this help l will come out with an A* in English Literature

  32. Hi sir,

    Can I print your analysis so that I can read it while studying ?Is there any way to print your analysis at one go?

    Also are we required to comment on iambs in poetry.

    thanks for the notes. they are great

    • Hi Yoloman,

      You certainly can print my notes. I don’t think there is an easy way of doing it in one go though. However, I am toying with formatting each section as an ebook (with a small charge) that you’d then be able to print easily – this may be some time off though.

      No need to mention iambs, unless you feel it is a significant part of the poem that contributes to meaning in some way.


      Mr Sir

      • Hi Sir,

        Thanks for the reply. I think that would be a great idea. Are u planning on doing Jekyll and Hyde, MOV and Inspector calls?

        Once again thank you for your efforts. It’s a noble cause that people like you are providing this for free and hope you attain great success.

        Also I was wondering if you have any marked essays so that I can see where I stand and how I could improve.

        Once again Thank you sir

      • No problem at all.

        You should be able to find some examples of marked essays dotted around the site and there is a file with a big bunch of them here: http://www.cieliterature.com/example-essays/.

        I’m virtual sure I won’t be adding notes for J&H, MOV or Inspector Calls, but if I do, I will let you know.


        Mr Sir

  33. Hi Mr.Sir,
    I just finished my English Literature paper today and I want to thank you for your help. We were asked about Love(III) and Father returning home and your analysis helped alot.

      • Haha I hope so. Is there any way I could help the website? Also, Im taking literature next year for the IB and I would like to know if you’re doing anything on that? No pressure or anything, but I just want to know if you think of it as something that you may think of doing later…:)

      • I’m not planning on any IB stuff, but there is sometimes a bit of crossover, so you never know.

        In terms of contributing, I’d be delighted if you wanted to help out with something. If you drop me an email on cieliteraturecontact@gmail.com we can discuss what you’d fancy doing.


        Mr Sir

      • Oh and one more thing, I have a load of IGCSE style questions on Merchant Of Venice and all the poems from SOO vol.2 -love and family. If that would help the people who visit the site then id be more than happy to provide my stuff:) Just tell me how I can do it…

      • Sounds good, drop me an email and we’ll get something sorted.

        Cheers, have a nice weekend,

        Mr Sir

    • Hi ,

      Did you write your exam in March? What question came up? It would be great if you could remember because the paper doesn’t seem to come out anytime soon

    • No, but a new contributor has made a start on it, so hopefully we will see some notes going up at some point later this month.


      Mr Sir

    • Good idea, Fatema. I will look into including it from now on and provide a test question page (when I get a chance).


      Mr Sir

  34. Hi Mr Sir,

    Thank you so much for your excellent analysis of these poems!

    Please could you upload some extract/model essays for these poems and then analyse your answers with the mark scheme?
    Thanks again!

  35. Hi Mr Sir,

    Thank you so much for your excellent (and different) analysis of these poems!

    Please could you upload some extract/model essays for these poems and then analyse your answers with the mark scheme?
    Thanks again!

  36. Thank you very much Mr. Sir for these detailed analyses. You are making a great contribution to humanity here. May God bless you really good.

    • Another comment for the CV – ‘making a great contribution to humanity’.

      I should protest modestly, but the truth is that is exactly what I am doing and I expect a Knighthood for my efforts in next year’s honours list.

  37. Hie sir when are you going to publish the last two poems l hope you will soon before we start writing the October /November o level examinations …\
    Thank you

  38. Mr Sir,
    Thank you for your excellent analysis on all these poems you are sort of the reason I got an A* in my mock exams. Much appreciated, by any chance do you know when the last two poems will be coming out, Stabat Martar and Coming Home.

    • Thanks for commenting.

      Expect the poems in the next fortnight, I will make it a priority once I’m back in Uzbekistan.

      Mr Sir

      • My exams are over in a fortnight, what an unhappy coincidence! Thank you for all the work you have already put into these analyses, they will be so useful for my finals and I hope you can have the last two done by then too.
        I’m so glad to have stumbled on this website, really appreciate your efforts and I am sure anyone else who does come across this website will too.

  39. Hello Mr Sir,
    Merry Christmas and a happy and successful new year… It is a long time since we heard from you…Hope all is well.We would be happy to see the analysis of the two last poems when you are finished with them..
    Thanks a lot

  40. Hello,

    Can you please finish the analysis for Stabat Mater, and Coming Home and add the link? That would be of very good help. Thank you so much. 🙂

  41. Really appreciate this analysis, we sure waiting for more … (I’m a teacher) and we kind of rely on you and are missing the analysis, especially the IGCSE one 🙂

    • Please don’t rely on me! That’s too much pressure, but more posts are on their way, should have the next one up by the end of today or tomorrow.

      Thanks for reading,

      Mr Sir

      • Sir we rely on you and the analysis cause we know you write with that passion so yah …
        l know it might be hard work but think for the last two analysis of poem 26and 27 you will post the analysis …..
        Thank you sir
        Happy New Year

      • Hi there,

        Don’t worry they are on the way (a little behind schedule). I always think holiday time will give me more time to write, but I never learn that having a wife and two families who lives thousands of miles away from us means we have to be attentive when we’re home.

        Expect the poems to go up in the next two weeks.


        Mr Sir

  42. Hello Mr Sir,
    We haven’t seen your interesting analysis for long…hope you resume sending your analysis soon .Hope all is well with you. Waiting for more to come.

    • It’s not that long! Unfortunately I’ve had visitors for a week (so annoying!) and then my boiler has exploded and I’m having to manage life from a hotel. The net result of this is that I’m now spending all my time in the bath and in the buffet restaurant.

      I promise I will get something done next week.

      • Oh!!so sorry for your sad news…Hope all will be settled for you soon…Don’t bother now until things get better for you .
        May God support you.

      • Oh don’t worry, I was just having a moan. Things are okay again and I’m back in the house, nice and warm. Another post on the way!

  43. Hello Mr. Sir,
    There are many poems written on the syllabus, how would I know which one to learn and which books to read. There are many different sections in the poetry itself and I am really confused on what to learn 🙁
    Please help me!

    • Okay, first of all, it shouldn’t be you choosing unless you are an independent candidate: it should be your teachers. If you are an independent candidate then I would suggest sticking with the Songs of Ourselves selection as I’m going to provide analysis for it all and they are all pretty straightforward once you get into it.

      I hope this helps, but if you’ve got a more specific question or issue then by all means ask again.


      Mr Sir

      • What about the novels that we have to read? Can we read any or specific ones? These are the only poems we have to learn right? Nothing more after these poems?

  44. sorry but the selection above is not the igcse selection from volume2 part 1… the 14 poems are found in the syllabus selelection.

  45. please inform me with any analysis on the above selection of poems for the year2016 and anything related…thanks so much 🙂

  46. The igsce songs of ourselves , volume two, part 1 poems (Love and Family)…. Is it for the 2015/2016 session?

    • No problem, but don’t hold your breath. I think I will probably get started on this some time in September, but it depends on a lot of life factors – I’m moving, starting a new job, getting married and all sorts!

    • Hopefully I will remember or check the comments as I start updating. However, if you subscribe you should be able to pick just posts from the iGCSE sections and then I become obsolete in the process 🙂

      • Embarrassingly I don’t really know! There is a follow button in the bottom right corner, but I’m not sure it is working as I just tried it with no success. However, if you like it on Facebook or Twitter then you should receive a notification. I will look into the subscription thing in the next few days.

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