Prescribed Poetry: Concluding Your Answer

Prescribed Poetry: Concluding Your Answer

Coherence of delivery:

The marker looks for you to consistently answer the question without disruption or interruption, hence you have to ensure that your answer does not divert from addressing the statement despite focusing on different poems and poetic elements. All of your paragraphs will back up your statement, and  by using linking phrases to adjoin them you will ensure that the marker is reminded of their serving the same function and thus their link to another. For example, if you began a new paragraph for the question we have been answering, something such as so would suit:

Another theme that Kinsella considers in a fresh manner is relationships. Throughout his poetry Kinsella focuses on some of the most meaningful relationships individuals have, such as God, one’s father and one’s love, yet he does not focus on these in the conventional optimistic sense. Rather he considers drawbacks to such relationships which, while somewhat pessimistic, is a more realistic presentation of these.

The marker is thus shown that this paragraph serves the same function as the last; Kinsella’s unique take on the theme of relationships is like his viewpoint on the changing state of life in that both show his unconventional poetic style, which is why you said you liked his poetry in the introduction.

Much like you will be linking different paragraphs, you should also link different poems in paragraphs to show them as serving the same purpose, providing evidence that your paragraph topic proves the factuality of your introductory statement. If we examine the paragraph mentioned above, the linking phrases are emboldened:

This is seen in Model School, Inchicore. Kinsella, while in school, wonders about the relationship God has with each individual. However, rather than considering God as a being who always has our best interests at heart, Kinsella wonders if we will still be cared for by God if we do wrong. The poet wonders how God views each person, firstly asking ‘Will God judge/ our most secret thoughts and actions?’ and after seeming sure that this will be the case declares ‘God will judge/ our most secret thoughts and actions’. He concludes that God will take everything we do in our lives into account and judge us for all of our actions when the time comes, remarking that ‘every idle word that man shall speak/ he shall render an account of it/ on the Day of Judgement.’ Elsewhere, in His Father’s Hands, Kinsella does not appear to be on good terms with his father, even if he is so with his grandfather. Kinsella initially speaks of his grandfather working away, ‘tightening the black Plug/ between knife and thumb’. Such is his admiration of the man that he imitates him; while his grandather ‘kept the sprigs in mouthfuls/ and brought them out in silvery/ units between his lips’ the young poet ‘took a pinch out of their hole/ and knocked them one by one into the wood’. However he does not appear so affectionate of his father, and there is no suggestion of any harmony between the pair, which presents the relationship as more realistic as it reflects problems that are inevitably going to appear in relationships and thus presents it like all father-son and other relationships, containing tension and disagreement. While Kinsella is drinking with him he reveals how ‘I drank firmly/ and set the glass down beteen us firmly’, suggesting a disagreement between the two. His lines ‘You were saying.// My father/ Was saying’ suggests not only a resentment towards what and/or how his father is speaking to him but also a growing distance between the two; while he initially refers to his father as ‘You’ immediately after it is ‘My father’.  Echo shows a similarly realistic portrayal of relationships, suggesting that rather than a presence of complete honesty there are always secrets, untruths and deception in romantic partnerships. Initially the relationship appears promising; the male brings the female to a place of comfort, leading her from the ‘thorns/ from the broken gate’ to ‘the heart of the wood/ to the holy well’. Here both reveal truths to each other, suggesting honesty and sincerness; ‘They revealed their names/ and told their tales/ as they said they would/ on that distant day/ when their love began’. However as the two leave, it seems as though the female is not wholeheartedly committed to open and honest, because when ‘they turned to leave’ the poet reveals how ‘she stopped and whispered/ a final secret/ down to the water’. In addition, the title of the poem suggests deception in a relationship, as in Greek mythology Echo was a nymph who distracted Hera while her husband had affairs with other myths. The mention of ‘Echo’ as the title suggests that deception is present in some form, even if the use of ‘He’ and ‘She’ leaves the characters of the relationship anonymous.

Simple linking phrases link the three poems mentioned and present them as all serving the same purpose, illustrating Kinsella’s unique take on relationships.

Finally, after your main body, you need to complete your answer with the conclusion. The function of the conclusion is to sum up what has been said. Here you should mention:

  • Your response to the statement.
  • The paragraph topics you have focused on
  • The significance of what you have said

For the above answer you could say this:

As shown, Kinsella’s poetry is unconventional. It is for this very reason that I find it fascinating, as it uses tools and themes which are common but in uncommon ways, showing us new ways to look at our world and the issues in it.

Efficiency of language use

When writing your answer with this structure you need to use appropriate writing style for the task. There are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Poetic terminology is essential. You are talking about a poet and his/ her poetry so the marker will presume, and rightly so, that you will talk about elements of the poetry such as imagery etc.
  • Focus on one characteristic of the poet’s poetry per paragraph.
  • Short sentences are needed. The marker will deduct you marks if s/he has to reread sentences to grasp their meaning.
  • The question will be aimed at “you” so respond accordingly with personal opinion.

Finally, bear in mind the final quality needed in your answer:

Mechanics of language

Spelling and grammar should be of a high standard; if the marker’s reading of your answer is disrupted by grammatical errors then they will deduct you marks.

Remember to Engage with the poems and use plenty of examples.

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About the Author

John Ryan

John has a Masters in Modern English Literature and is the founder of RyJoLC, an educational consultancy based in Dublin that provides English language and curriculum resources to educational institutions worldwide.
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