John Keats HL 2009

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Here’s a look at how to handle a Keats poetry exam question. You can see a model introduction and then some broad tips on how to plan the essay. A plan is just the bones – some flesh will be added in the next day or two.

LC HL 2009

Keats presents abstract ideas in a style that is clear and direct. Do you agree….

From my study of the poetry of John Keats, I am not surprised that many call him the finest English poet of the Romantic period. In many ways, his work is typical of his era. His themes reflect his deepest beliefs about what was important to him in life. Imagination, nature, strong emotions, love, death, transience, immortality are among the many abstract ideas with which his poetry is concerned. The manner in which Keats writes is often clear and direct as he creates verbal music in his sound effects, sensuous imagery that is tactile and aural. However, there are often times when his style can be challenging such as his use of paradoxes and antithesis to explore his themes. Therefore, I agree with this view of Keats’ work to a large but not full extent.

Now, you can approach this essay in one of two ways:

  1. Poem by poem:

Go through 4/5 of the six studied poems – one par or two paragraphs for each poem. As you discuss each poem – refer to one or two of the different abstract ideas mentioned in the intro and show how the style is clear / direct or not. If you are discussing one poem in each paragraph, make sure you link to another poem (perhaps the 6th poem, not being assigned its own paragraph) by way of a quote that shows a similar or different view/use of the theme/style being discussed. As always use words that show your personal response eg I was impressed with, I was challenged by, I enjoyed, I have often/never felt the same way about… I was pushed out of my comfort zone when studying… Keats’ use of x is striking… and so on.

  1. Theme by theme (or aspect of style by aspect of style):

Choose a different abstract idea according to the ones listed in the intro for each different paragraph. As you discuss each theme, refer to two or more poems that deal with it. Also show how Keats explores the idea – his style and comment on its clarity and directness (as the question requires). Again, include a personal element. As always keep the focus on the exact terms (or synonyms) of the question.

What is ultimately expected is that you show you know and understand Keats’ poetry thoroughly; and that you have thought about it and formed an opinion that you can justify and defend. Furthermore, you are being tested on how well you can interpret a question and apply your knowledge and understanding and opinion to what the question asks of you. (RTFQ and ATFQ J)

Now for two outlines – one following each approach:

  1. Poem by poem outline:

As always have a think about putting your paragraphs in a logical order that will create a flow to your thinking – and try to create smooth transitions between paragraphs.

Intro: (similar to above)

MB 1: Ode to a Nightingale

(Ask yourself: What abstract themes does this poem deal with and are those themes expressed in a clear and direct style?)

Abstract ideas – the imagination, transience, poetry, nature, mortality, death

Style – synaesthesia, sensuous imagery esp smell, allusion, contrast, changing tone

(Now ask yourself: How will I shape these points to suit my paragraph? OR: Which of these points will I use for my paragraph? OR: What will my paragraph topic be in relation to the question asked?)

MB 2: Ode to a Nightingale

Continue with points not used in MB 1.

Contrast this poem’s treatment of nature with its treatment in ‘La Belle Dame Sans Merci’

MB 3: To Autumn

Abstract ideas – beauty of nature v the harsh reality of death (transience, mortality)

Style – rich imagery – tactile, visual, aural; personification of Autumn, contrast, onomatopoeia + alliteration

MB 4: Ode on a Grecian Urn

Abstract ideas – immortality through art, permanence, transience, imagination, love (brief ref to LBDSM’s contrasting treatment of love)

Style – paradoxes + antithesis + ambiguities, contrast, assonance + sibilance

MB 5: To one who has been long in city pent

Abstract ideas – beauty of nature + its restorative powers, appreciation of literature (brief ref to ‘On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer), transience

Style: Changing tone, personification, allusion, alliteration + onomatopoeia

Conc – a crucial paragraph – shorter than main bodies – sum up – recap the main thrust of your essay and if possible leave the reader with a final thought-provoking comment on Keats and your opinion of his work in relation to this question.

  1. Theme by theme outline:

WARNING: Be careful not to repeat aspects of (or the same quotes from) the same poem in different paragraphs.

As always have a think about putting your paragraphs in a logical order that will create a flow to your thinking – and try to create smooth transitions between paragraphs.

Intro: (similar to above)

MB 1: Imagination; style – clear and direct or not

Think about which poems will help you with this – you can use one poem in this par and one poem in the next paragraph but comment on whether they have a similar or different approach.

Ode to a Nightingale

MB 2: Imagination; style – clear and direct or not

A second poem on this theme – Ode on a Grecian Urn

MB 3: Nature; style – clear and direct or not

To Autumn + To one who has been long in city pent + brief link to LBDSM as poem which treats nature differently

MB 4: Immortality / Death + Transience; style – clear and direct or not

Ode to a Nightingale + Ode on a Grecian Urn and To Autumn

MB 5: Love; style – clear and direct or not

LBDSM + Ode on a Grecian Urn

Conc – a crucial paragraph – shorter than main bodies – sum up – recap the main thrust of your essay and if possible leave the reader with a final thought-provoking comment on Keats and your opinion of his work in relation to this question.

More flesh will be added to these over the next day or two – but these pointers should be a good guideline in how to start looking at a Keats question. Happy studying!

Music and Poetry for Christmas

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On Tuesday 20th December the Senior Choir visited Gormanston Woods Nursing Home for a morning of Christmas Carols and Poetry. The choir visits the Nursing Home every Christmas under the guidance of Ms O’Hare and Ms Hodgins, taking the opportunity to share the Christmas Spirit with the residents. It is always a joyful and lively experience.

This year, as part of our school’s Wellread initiative, the choir was accompanied by a number of students reading Christmas poetry to the men and women in Gormanston Woods. Pauric Leech read ‘A Christmas Childhood’ by Patrick Kavanagh and Aaron Rock read ‘A Visit from St. Nicholas’ by Clement Clarke Moore. This added an extra literary element to this festive occasion that was greatly appreciated by all involved.

Music and poetry at Gormanston Wood

Drop Everything And Read 2016

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We are half-way through another Drop Everything And Read week here at Franciscan College Gormanston. Everyday at 10:30 teachers are told to stop teaching and students are told to put away their work. All members of the school community take out a book and read for their own enjoyment.

Both students and staff really enjoy this week every year as it gives a short break from work to do something very pleasant and relaxing. Also, all members of the school community take part in this week with great enthusiasm because we fully recognise that reading for pleasure is proven to help improve students’ grades across all subjects.

Drop Everything and Read week

Drop Everything and Read week

 

Class 1A2 reading for pleasure

Class 1A2 reading for pleasure

Graphic Novels in the library

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A number of our students are very interested in graphic novels. They see them as a different way to enjoy narrative – one that has visual appeal to match the story itself. Like traditional novels, there are endless ways to categorise graphic novels. Today, Alex from 6th year spoke to some junior students in the library about the types of novel that he enjoys.

The first type he spoke about were manga – these are read from top to bottom and right to left in the traditional Japanese style. One of Alex’s favourites is ‘Death Note’.

He then went on to speak about superhero stories. This sparked the age-old debate of whether DC or Marvel is the better comic type. Alex’s favourite is the Marvel series, but needless to say, there was a lot of disagreement!

Many students had questions for him and everyone enjoyed sharing their own personal experiences.

We are very grateful to the parents who run the library at lunchtimes who allowed us to use this beautiful space for the talk.

 

Alex talking to some junior students.

Alex talking to some junior students.

 

Students listening to the talk about graphic novels.

Students listening to the talk about graphic novels.

Senior Debate

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Last Friday the two 6th year English classes pitted their debating skills against each other. The students in 6th year are highly experienced and accomplished debaters and we all knew that it was to be a very close battle. The motion for the debate was taken from the 2016 Leaving Certificate Higher Level exam paper: ‘Young people should travel and see the world before joining the workforce or furthering their education.’

Both teams delivered speeches that were well researched and backed up by plenty of factual data as well as personal anecdotes. They stood in front of their peers with confidence and spoke with passion. This made the job very difficult for the adjudicators; however after much deliberations it was decided that the motion was carried.

We look forward to more high quality debates during the rest of the year!!

 

 

Karen, Alex and Rhys for the proposition

Karen, Alex and Rhys for the proposition

 

Rebecca as timekeeper and Conor as chairperson

Rebecca as timekeeper and Conor as chairperson

 

Adam, Christabel and Bobby for the opposition

Adam, Christabel and Bobby for the opposition

Space Week in the Library

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Last week was Space Week in the Library and here we can see some of our junior students with a display of books that are available.

Students have access to a wide range of books – both fiction and non-fiction. The library, run by the Parents’ Association, operates themed weeks during the course of the year. Be sure to pop in whenever you can to find out what is going on!

Students with a display of books about space.

Students with a display of books about space.

Bob Dylan – Nobel Laureate

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American singer-songwriter has today been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature ‘for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition’. He is the first singer-songwriter to win the award and the first American to win since Toni Morrison in 1993.

He was born on 24th May 1941 in Minnesota and began writing and performing in his teenager years and has not stopped since.

Permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, Sarah Danius, said later: ‘We we’re really giving it to Bob Dylan as a great poet – that’s the reason we awarded him the prize. He’s a great poet in the English tradition, stretching from Milton and Blake onwards. And he’s a very interesting traditionalist, in a highly original way. Not just the written tradition, but also the oral one; not just high literature, but also low literature.’

Author Salman Rushdie stated that he was delighted with Dylan’s win and said that his lyrics ‘had been an inspiration to me all my life since I first heard a Dylan album at school.’

Prof Seamus Perry, chair of the English faculty at Oxford University, compared Dylan’s talent to that of the poet Alfred Lord Tennyson, calling the songwriter ‘representative and yet wholly individual, humane, angry, funny and tender by turn; really, wholly himself, one of the greats’.

Author Joyce Carol Oates said there should be no question about Dylan’s work being considered literature, praising the academy’s ‘inspired and original choice’.

Not everyone was overjoyed by the announcement, however. Irvine Welsh, the author of Trainspotting, said that although he was a Dylan fan ‘this is an ill-conceived nostalgia award wrenched from the rancid prostates of senile, gibbering hippies’.

Here is one of my favourites: