Prescribed Poetry: The Main Body Of Your Answer

Prescribed Poetry: The Main Body Of Your Answer

Your answer should then contain a main body of at least four paragraphs, which combined should deal with the poet’s themes/ interests, style, viewpoint etc. Each of these paragraphs must also answer the question, which brings about the second quality needed for your answer:

Clarity of purpose

Each paragraph, as said, will focus on a specific element on the poet’s work (themes/ viewpoint/ style etc) but must also serve the purpose of showing that you can make the statement that you placed in your introduction (with this in mind, it is of use to think of your main body as providing evidence for your introduction). Each paragraph must begin by introducing the paragraph topic; in the same way that the introduction indicated what the remainder of your essay will focus on doing so here will indicate what the rest of your paragraph will focus on. You then need to state how this topic proves you can make your introductory statement, which relates to Clarity of Purpose as this focuses on completing the task, which as said earlier was to respond to a statement by using the work of a poet. Finally, when you have stated how the topic proves your introductory response to be factual you then have to provide evidence that this is so, which is achieved by providing examples from the poet’s works. An example would be for the question mentioned in the above sample introduction. If our first paragraph was to focus on the unique way Kinsella dealt with themes something such as so would suit:

One way in which I found Kinsella’s poetry fascinating due to its unconventional nature was his unique take on certain themes. This is seen with his examination of the changing state of life, which he illustrates with examples as deep and meaningful as aging and death, and also as seemingly irrelevant as the breaking of an egg.

Immediately you have introduced your paragraph topic and stated how it shows your response in the introduction to be factual. This also shows the marker that you are aware of the importance of Efficiency of Language Use, as not only are you structuring your answer in an organized manner, but also organizing each paragraph accordingly also. You are introducing your paragraph topic and then showing how it provides evidence of the factuality of your introductory response, followed by the use of examples to provide evidence of this. Something such as so might begin the remainder of the paragraph:

‘Mirror in February focuses on Kinsella’s revelation that he is no longer young. It takes place on a day which ‘dawns with scene of must and rain’, and the poet Kinsella, who is in the middle of ‘Idling on some compulsive fantasy’ looks upon himself with ‘a dark exhausted eye’ and ‘A dry downturning mouth’. It is then that he realises he is no longer young and that it is ‘time to learn’ that he has grown old, rather than indulge in fantasy any longer; he now realises that he is no longer young as he once believed, and that ‘I have looked my last on youth’. As the poem comes to an end the poet acts in a manner that he believes is appropriate to his state; not indulging in fantasy, but instead choosing to ‘fold my towel with what grace I can,/ Not young and now renewable, but man’. Thinking of Mr. D differs in example, but once more shows how life can change. The poem reveals how one’s vibrancy will inevitably fade at the time of death, with Kinsella beginning by describing Mr. D as a lively individual. Kinsella tells us he is ‘still light of foot’ and while he is ‘ageing’ that he is still able to indulge in revelry, ‘his quiet tongue/ Danced to such cheerful slander… sipped and swallowed with a scathing smile’. However soon Mr. D’s liveliness is no more as he passes away, with Kinsella remarking that ‘When he died I saw him twice’. Now Mr. D is no longer full of life; instead the poet presents him as subject to the elements, presenting the recently deceased man looking out onto a river but subject to the ‘wharf-/Lamps’ which ‘plunged him in and out of light’. No longer is he the one who seeks to cause pain or suffering to others, as he once did with his ‘cheerful slander’; now he is ‘A priestlike figure turning, wolfish-slim,/ Quickly aside from pain, in a bodily plight,/ To note the oiled reflections chime and swim’.

Each of your paragraphs should therefore:

  • Introduce your paragraph topic
  • Show how it proves the factuality of your introductory response
  • Use examples from poems to provide evidence that the paragraph topic proves the factuality of your introductory response

Each of your paragraphs, while backing up the introductory statement separately, must also appear to the marker as part of a unified answer that addresses the statement in the question. The best way to link your separate paragraphs is through the quality of Coherence of Delivery which will be focused upon next.

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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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