Considering the Style of Anthology

Considering the Style of Anthology

Once you have studied the poems in some detail, you will be familiar with some of the ideas and issues that are being raised.

The next stage is to consider how to compare the poems. This will be influenced to some extent by the type of anthology you are studying. In your exam you may be expected to write about a selection of poems by a particular poet, or from a particular period or about a certain theme or group.

The anthology may consist of poems by a single writer. Do you notice a common theme running throughout the poet's work. Do there seem to be different and perhaps conflicting ideas?

Look carefully at the anthology. Does it include poetry from a particular episode in the poet's life, or does it include poetry from across a number of years? If the poetry spans the poet's life, do you notice any similarities or differences between poems of different stages in his life?

How have the poems been arranged in the book? Does this bear any relation to your own groupings of the poem? Can you link up poems according to their themes, form and use of language?

Remember that you are studying the poetry first. Do not reduce your studies to biographies. Reading about the background of the writer will definitely inform your reading, but if the poems have any merit then they should stand up as works of art in their own right, and not need several pages of footnotes in order to be appreciated.

Your chosen text may be an anthology of poetry from a certain period of time.

It is quite likely that the anthology will include very different styles and ideas. A collection of poetry by the Romantics for example would show great variation between the works of Coleridge, Keats and Wordsworth.

In this situation it is important to consider the following:

  1. Study the poetry of more than one poet so that you establish an understanding of the range of styles.
  2. Choose at least two poets who have similarities and two who have differences so that you have both elements covered.
  3. Be flexible in your approach. Look for similarities between poets who are on the whole very different and vice versa.
  4. Consider enough poems by each author to be able to avoid making sweeping statements about a poet's work based on a single poem.
  5. Look for differences in style and approach for poems about the same theme as well as differences in ideas.
  6. Do you notice any common links between the collection of poets? Look for features distinctive of the period such as a form-ballad or figurative technique-conceit.
  7. It is important to have an understanding of the social and historical context of the poetry. Researching this can be extremely interesting. However, be wary of turning your study into a Social Studies essay. Remember that your research is meant to enhance your appreciation of the literature.
  8. Don't become preoccupied with discussing the idea. Always relate your study to the poetry itself.

Some collections of poetry are based around a particular theme, for example Love, War, Nationality, Gender, Ethnicity. In this situation it is possible that the poetry will span a large number of years and wide range of attitudes. It is inevitable that there will be vast differences in approach and techniques used.

For this reason, you need to be careful in considering the similarities and differences. Look at the suggestions for poems from a particular period.

Break down the theme into categories.

  • How do they show their differences in opinion?
  • How do they show their differences in opinion?
  • What techniques do they use?
  • How does their choice of approach reflect their ideas?