Comparing the Poems

Comparing the Poems

Having begun to compare the poems, you need to consider how to organise your ideas. In this section there are suggestions to help you organise your comparisons and think about how to prepare most efficiently for the exam.

After studying a number of poems you will need to consider organising yournotes. You will have found links between the poems (see previous Learn It). The next stage is to focus on the comparison in more detail. A good starting point for preparing your notes and comparing the poems is to use a table.

For example:

Table of notes

You can expand and adapt this tabular format to cover as many points as you can find.

Arranging your notes like this for different groupings of poetry will help you to develop a clearer overall impression of the poet, and provide useful notes for specific questions.

It is helpful to use background texts and literary critics to stimulate your own ideas. However, do not rely on them. Always question their opinions. The examiners are looking to reward you for developing your own line of argument not merely regurgitating someone else's views - which may have been written decades ago.

Showing an awareness of different attitudes and using them to inform your ownreading will be rewarded. Learning the odd short quotation from a critic will be rewarded if you are then able to comment on the quotations in your own words.

Once you have compared a number of poems you may notice that certain poems feature a number of issues. These poems may have striking features or similarities with theme, style and imagery. If you notice poems that can be compared for a range of aspects then it makes sense to focus on them.

Try to consider a variety of poems. Don't restrict yourself to only one poet,one theme or one group of poems. Chances are the question won't come up. In your exam it is most likely that you will be asked to focus on two or three poems in detail, so it is important that you prepare your notes carefully.

A useful way to annotate your text is to colour code your poems.

Put a simple key in the back of your book, for example:

Colour key

You can then use this to highlight key lines in the poems. It gives colour to your revision notes, and makes it much easier to refer to in the exam.

Ensure that any quotations used are relevant, short quotations are best. Consult with your teacher to find out just how much detail you can include.

Writing your own poem that links with a certain poem from the anthology can be a good idea.

As with all of the other aspects of the exam, the best way to prepare for the exam is to try practice questions. Simply writing comparative essays of different poems is useful, but in the exam you are likely to have to focus on just a certain aspect. Writing essay plans is a good idea. It takes less time and helps you focus your reading.