Thanks to Vishal for submitting this essay. I’ve commented throughout in red and at the bottom of the post you’ll find his mark and my reasoning.
Question: Comment closely on ways in which the writer presents the effects of loss in the following poem. (Poem: THE FLOWERS THAT ON THE BANKS AND WALKS DID GROW).
The poet, Emilia Lanyer, has used certain language and techniques to create striking effects of loss and poignancy in her poem “The Flowers that on the Banks and Walks Did Grow.” (this is what I would call a nothing introduction. What do you actually tell the examiner? An introduction should be like a contents page for your essay – e.g. She uses x to create y impression of loss, while also using w to create z)
Most of the poem describes the dying and dimming effect that has been caused on nature to reflect the persona’s own feelings and emotional state – turmoil and grief at the loss of a loved one. (strong opening to the paragraph) The “pretty birds” that used to sing, now “neither sing, nor chirp, nor use their wing”. This creates the impression that the birds are very depressed and inactive. They have lost their vibrancy and liveliness. They are in this state because their loved one is gone. (personally I think you could express this in one complex sentence rather than three simple ones – just nitpicking) The reader is made to think that their (who? – you never mention this throughout your essay, this is an easy way to show contextual appreciation) presence added vibrancy and life to the birds. Moreover, “each bank, arbour, each seat, each stately tree, looks bare and desolate … for want of thee.” Repetition is used here for the word “each” to emphasise that every separate element in nature felt it’s very own profound level of grief and pain. These elements are described as “desolate” and “bare” for want of her. This creates the impression that they are in desperate need of her (who?), or else they will continue to wither away and die. (this is pretty good, but try to use language more closely related to the question to anchor your ideas to it more directly)
(link your paragraphs – something simple like ‘Another way Lanyer present loss is…)The poetic voice uses personification to express the fading of happiness and joy and the increase of pain and grief. The sun is personified when the persona says the “sun grew weak… his beams no comfort gave.” Light from the sun is associated with happiness and hope of all the things in nature, since light is reflected on them. Light also represents vitality and strength in the plants and animals. These all serve to enhance the effects of loss that the poetic voice is going through. (good, maybe take this a touch further and stress the power of the sun – giver of all life – deeming Clifford’s death to be cause for misery, this elevates Clifford’s importance)
(again, without links an essay becomes disjointed) The persona uses personification to express the longing for the person lost and how much she is missed and wanted back. “Each brier, each bramble, caught fast your clothes… thinking to make you stay.” Again, repetition is used for the word “each”. This is used to enhance and intensify the impression that nature, all of nature, is trying it’s best to stop her from leaving, (make this more explicit and explain the imagery more closely, it is not just a case of trying to stop her, but a desperate clinging, which reflects the depths of love Clifford’s garden felt for her – loss results in everything dying) yet the effort is in vain because no amount of effort could stop her from leaving. The poetic voice is lost in misery and wants nothing more in this world than for her to come back. (yes, but how does she do this? Restress that she reflects her grief through the personification and in the struggle and death of the garden we understand her personal grief at the loss)
(link needed) The poetic voice expresses that the lost loved one can never be forgotten and this creates the impression of the depth of the persona’s grief. The persona writes “so long as life remains… tying my life to her by those rich chains.” This creates the effect in the reader of seeing an indelible link between the persona and the lost one. We can imagine an invisible “chain” whose extension can never be limited connecting the two together. Because it is unbreakable, she will never be forgotten from the persona’s mind. (anchor this back to the question with a final sentence – thus Lanyer demonstrates blah blah blah about loss and poignancy)
In conclusion, the poetic voice has very skillfully described his inner experience very vividly using nature. (No, you can’t do this. An introduction and conclusion are so important in terms of an examiner awarding your mark. Remember this is the first thing they think and the last thing they are left with. A single sentence is not enough. Briefly sum up each of the points you’ve mentioned and explain how they answer your question directly.)
Okay, the good news is that your expression is crisp, utilises an impressive vocabulary and you make a lot of sense. With a few touches you could be looking at a top grade. However, some key points for you to consider:
– Introduction – answer the question, don’t just give a bland regurgitation of the question. Mention the points you are going to write about in full in the body of your essay, but in overview form and without deeper exploration. This shows an examiner that you know exactly what you want to say and puts you in control of the question.
– Linking paragraphs – an essay is one entity and not a selection of unrelated points. A top, top essay with flow from idea to idea effortlessly. Without links each paragraph ends and begins abruptly. Your links only need to be simple connectives, not always complicated interrelated points.
– An anchor – at the end of each paragraph it is always a good idea just to go back and answer the question clearly with a summation of what you’ve just said in the paragraph.
– Length – I think this a little short. Length doesn’t really matter, but I’d be aiming for 2-2 1/2 pages depending on the size of your handwriting. I know this is typed, but it felt short and I know there is a lot more you could have mentioned.
– Conclusion – must be smooth and developed. You should briefly recap all of your points together and use them all to address a direct answer to the question.
Please feel free to clarify any of these points with me.
Mark Scheme – 16/25 (top C to B)
K (Band 3) Evidence of competence in selecting relevant knowledge of the text to address with some pertinent use of quotation and direct references.
(possibly could have said Band 2 here, but I’m not sure you always fully explore all the interesting points)
U (Band 3) Evidence of sound understanding of some aspects of ways in which writers’ choices of structure, form and language shape meanings, with some analysis and appreciation of literary methods, effects, and contexts.
(definitely with language, but I wonder whether there is more you could have brought in. I didn’t feel satisfied that you’d answer the question in all the ways you could have)
P (Band 2 – lower) Evidence of personal response to the texts, relevant to the question, supported from the text, some originality of thought, straightforward and vigorously articulated, perhaps, rather than penetrating and subtle
(at times, particularly your first body paragraph, you sound like a genius! Just need to get consistent now)
C (Band 3) Expression will be clear and generally accurate. Structure will be sound – material coherently organised with occasional insights. Candidates will express intelligent, straightforward ideas clearly, though there may be occasional loss of fluency with points not always strongly connected.
(this is going to be the easiest one for you to progress in. Link your paragraphs and write proper introductions and conclusions and you will be at the top of band 2, probably pushing band 1)