Poetry Aloud ’13

12 students from Gormanston College took part in the Poetry Aloud Competition in the National Library in Dublin today. Each student had to recite two poems – one prescribed and one of their own choosing. The prescribed poem for the Junior Category was ‘Lion King’ by Joe Woods, for the Intermediate Category was ‘Poisoned’ by John Ennis and for the Senior Category was ‘In Memory of Eva Gore-Booth and Con Markiewicz’ by WB Yeats.

Each of our students did us proud. They recited their poetry with confidence and conducted themselves with dignity. The day was thoroughly enjoyable for all involved.

And to crown a wonderful experience, Duncan from 6th year succeeded in progressing to the semi-finals! Well done to Duncan. This is a great reward for the hard work he put into learning his poems and delivering them with panache.

Well done to all who took part.

Duncan, Chris and Hunain
Jack, Sami, Oran, Conor and Conor
Pauric, Chris, Kyle and Adam

Past Exam Questions on ‘Macbeth’ – Update


‘Macbeth’s relationships with other characters can be seen primarily as power struggles which prove crucial to the outcome of the play.’ Discuss the above statement in relation to at least two of Macbeth’s relationships with other characters. Support your answer with suitable reference to the play, ‘Macbeth’.


‘Throughout the play, ‘Macbeth’, Shakespeare makes effective use of a variety of dramatic techniques that evoke a wide range of responses from the audience.’ Discuss this view with reference to at least two dramatic techniques used by Shakespeare in the play. Support your answer with suitable reference to the text.


‘The variety of significant insights that we gain into Macbeth’s mind proves critical in shaping our understanding of his complex character’. Discuss this view, supporting your answer with suitable reference to the play, ‘Macbeth’.


Shakespeare makes effective use of disturbing imagery in the play, ‘Macbeth’. Discuss this statement with suitable reference to the text.


‘Macbeth’s murder of Duncan has horrible consequences both for Macbeth himself and for Scotland.’ Write a response to this statement. You should refer to the play in your answer.


‘”Macbeth” has all the ingredients of compelling drama.’ Write a response to this statement, commenting on one or more of the ingredients, which in your opinion, make ‘Macbeth’ a compelling drama.


‘The relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth undergoes significant change during the course of the play.’ Discuss this statement, supporting your answer by suitable reference to the text.


‘Essentially the play ‘Macbeth’ is about power, its uses and abuses.’ Discuss this view of the play, supporting your answer with the aid of suitable reference to the text.



‘Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’ invites us to look into the world of a man driven on by ruthless ambition and tortured by regret.’ Write a response to this view of the play ‘Macbeth’, supporting the points you make by reference to the text.


‘The play ‘Macbeth’ has many scenes of compelling drama.’ Choose one scene that you found compelling and say why you found it to be so. Support your answer by reference to the play.



‘We feel very little pity for the central characters of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth in Shakespeare’s play.’ To what extent would you agree with the above view? Support your answer by reference to the play.


‘In Macbeth, Shakespeare presents us with a powerful vision of evil.’ Write your response to the above statement. Textual support may include reference to a particular performance of the play you have seen.



Discuss the course and nature of the resistance to Macbeth’s rule in the play. Support your answer by relevant quotation or reference to the play.


‘Kingship, with all its potential for good or evil, is a major theme of the play ‘Macbeth’.’ Discuss this view, supporting your answer with quotation from or reference to the play.



‘The eternal struggle between good and evil – a struggle in which evil comes very close to victory – is the central them of the play ‘Macbeth’.’ Discuss this view and show how the struggle is illustrated in the imagery of the play. Support your answer by reference or quotation.


‘While there are redeeming features in the character of Macbeth, Lady Macbeth is portrayed as a ruthless opportunist whose ambition for her husband supersedes all moral considerations.’ Discuss this view, supporting your answer by reference or quotation.



‘The Banquo Macbeth has killed is not the innocent soldier who met the witches and scorned their prophecies, nor the man who prayed to be delivered from temptation. He is a man whose principles have been deeply compromised.’ Discuss this view, supporting your answer by quotation or reference.


Discuss the way in which the language of the play ‘Macbeth’ contributes to the creation of the atmosphere of evil and violence which pervades the play. Support your answer by relevant quotation or reference.



‘The witches in ‘Macbeth’ are malevolent creatures, who originate deeds of blood and have power over the soul.’ Discuss the role of the witches in the play in the light of this statement. Support your answer with appropriate reference or quotation.


Discuss the way in which light/darkness, violent imagery and unnatural happenings are used in ‘Macbeth’ to create atmosphere. Support your answer with appropriate quotation or reference.



‘Their partnership in guilt, which at the beginning of the play is a strong bond between them, gradually drives Macbeth and his wife apart, until they go down to their separate dooms, isolated and alone.’ Discuss this view, with the aid of suitable quotation or reference.


‘Lady Macbeth is no monster. She is a loyal (though misguided) wife, not without tenderness and not without conscience.’ What do you think of this estimation of Lady Macbeth? Support your answer with relevant quotation or reference.



‘In ‘Macbeth’ Shakespeare does not present Macbeth as a mere villain, but succeeds in arousing some measure of sympathy for him.’ Discuss the character of Macbeth in the light of this statement, supporting your answer by relevant quotation or reference.


‘In ‘Macbeth’ the inner self is conveyed, not through the ideas expressed, nor through the actions performed, but by means of an elaborate pattern of imagery and symbolism.’ Test the truth of this statement by considering any two of the play’s central characters and the images and symbols associated with them. Support your answer by relevant quotation or reference.



‘In the play ‘Macbeth’, Shakespeare had heightened our experience of wickedness and disorder by setting them against a background of goodness and order.’ Discuss this view with the aid of appropriate reference or quotation.


Discuss the view that Lady Macbeth has more in common with the Witches than with Lady Macduff. Support your answer with suitable reference or quotation.

Essay Writing: Speeches

Good writing consists of three stages:

  1. Pre-writing
  2. Writing
  3. Post-writing and proofreading
  1. Pre-writing: Brainstorm, cluster, organise ideas, think about expression and vocab, produce an outline (paragraph by paragraph detailed plan) – know the ending before you begin.
  2. Writing: Write the essay (new/better ideas and forms of expression emerge as you write – incorporate them). Focus on ideas, expression and structure.
  3. Post-writing and proofreading: Always revise your essay – for homework assignments, make time to edit your first draft and produce a second draft. Add, omit, change ideas. Change the order of ideas. Improve expression and sentence structure. Check spelling, punctuation and grammar. In exam conditions – re-read and improve where possible.

The best way to improve your writing is to keep writing. Also read a variety of material – fiction, biographies, sports journals, newspapers, etc – to gather inspiration for new ideas and good styles of writing.

When it comes to writing speeches, here are is a checklist that will help you during all three stages of the writing process:

Formalities of Speeches

  • Opening address
  • Choosing a side
  • Overall defense or attack of the motion
  • Include audience – you, we
  • Appeal to the audience
  • Final confirmation of truth of your chosen side 

Persuasive Devices

  • Repetition
  • Rhetorical Questions
  • Triadic Phrasing (The Rule of Three), Listing
  • Alliteration
  • Metaphors, Similes
  • Hyperbole, Understatement
  • Anecdote; Humour

Features of a Good Essay

  1. Attention grabbing intro
  2. Summarising, thought-provoking conc (no new ideas)
  3. Focus on the task in every paragraph
  4. Original, fresh ideas
  5. One distinct idea per paragraph (topic)
  6. Logical flow from one paragraph to the next
  7. Examples, evidence, facts, support for distinct idea (topic)
  8. First and last sentence of each paragraph – still on same topic
  9. Transitions between paragraphs where possible/appropriate
  10. Advanced level of expression and vocabulary, appropriate word choice
  11. Sentence structure – accurate and varied
  12. Punctuation – accurate
  13. Accurate spelling and grammar

Points 1 – 4 above will gain you marks under the heading of Purpose (30%); 5 – 8 under the heading of Coherence (30%); 9 – 12 under Language (30%); point 13 under Mechanics (10%).

Two Approaches to Answering Poetry: Yeats 2010

When answering a Leaving Certificate Poetry question, the key is to answer the question. That might seem obvious but not every stays on task throughout the whole answer. The question must be responded to from the outset, so engagement with the task from the introduction, through the main body and right into the conclusion. Take a look at the following approaches to answering the 2010 question on W.B. Yeats:

2010 – “Yeats’s poetry is driven by a tension between the real world in which he lives and the ideal world that he imagines.” Write a response to the poetry of W.B. Yeats in the light of this statement, supporting your points with suitable reference to the poems on your course.
Tension – struggle – conflict – dichotomy
Represented through contrast, antithesis, irony, balances, symbolism, paradox, oxymoron, repetition, etc…
Real v ideal –
Past and present
Mortality and immortal
Memory and reality
Hopes and reality
The effects of time
The fact of change
Disappointment with life
Thematic Approach
Intro: Address the task – use synonyms and the same words
Refer to overall themes that encompass the requirements of the task eg political issues, personal changes, the effects of time, disappointment with the world as we know it
What to expect in the essay
MB 1 & 2: Focus on the task
Political issues – Sept 1913 and Easter 1916
Include aspects of style, personal engagement, hammer the task home
MB 3: Focus on the task
The effects of time – In Memory
Include aspects of style, personal engagement, hammer the task home
MB 4: Focus on the task
Personal changes, the desire for immortality – Wild Swans* and Sailing to Byzantium
Include aspects of style, personal engagement, hammer the task home
MB 5: Focus on the task
Disappointment with the world – Wild Swans* and An Irish Airman
Include aspects of style, personal engagement, hammer the task home
Conc: Sum up key ideas
Relate all to the task (synonyms)
Personal engagement
(*Brief reference to one poem is acceptable – five poems in great depth.)
Poem by Poem Approach (Solid intro and conc needed – similar to Thematic Approach)
1. ‘September 1913’ – Past and present – public and political
2. ‘Easter 1916’ – Ideal aspirations v real tragedy – public and political
3. ‘In Memory of…’ – Memory and reality – public and personal
4. ‘Wild Swans…’ – Mortality and Immortality – personal
5. ‘Sailing…’ – Mortality and Immortality – personal
6. ‘An Irish Airman…’ – life’s futility vs freedom through death
Whichever approach you take: in every paragraph refer to theme, aspects of style and respond personally. Stay focussed on the task from beginning to end (ie respond to the question).

Some important quotes from Act III of ‘Othello’

Here are some quotes to learn for the quotes test that you will be sitting on Act III:

Scene 1

‘The general and his wife are talking of it,
And she speaks for you stoutly. The Moor replies
That he you hurt is of great fame in Cyprus
And great affinity; and that in wholesome wisdom
He might not but refuse you. But he protests he loves you
And needs no other suitor but his likings
To take the safest occasion by the front
To bring you in again.’
Emilia to Cassio

Scene 3

‘My lord shall never rest,
I’ll watch him tame and talk him out of patience;
His bed shall seem a school, his board a shrift;
I’ll intermingle everything he does
With Cassio’s suit. Therefore be merry, Cassio;
For thy solicitor shall rather die
Than give thy cause away.’
Desdemona to Cassio

‘Excellent wretch, perdition catch my soul
But I do love thee! And when I love thee not,
Chaos is come again.’
Othello, speaking about Desdemona

‘And, for I know thou’rt full of love and honesty,
And weigh’st thy words before thou giv’st them breath’
Othello to Iago

‘give thy worst of thoughts
The worst of words.’
Othello to Iago

‘Good name in man – and woman – dear my lord,
Is the immediate jewel of their souls:
Who steals my purse, steals trash; ’tis something, nothing;
‘Twas mine, ’tis his, and has been slave to thousands:
But he that filches from me my good name
Robs me of that which not enriches him,
And makes me poor indeed.’
Iago to Othello

‘O, beware, my lord, of jealousy;
It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock
The meat it feeds on.’
Iago to Othello

‘I’ll see before I doubt; when I doubt, prove;
And on the proof, there is no more but this:
Away at once with love or jealousy!’
Othello to Iago

‘I speak not yet of proof:
Look to your wife; observe her well with Cassio;
Wear your eye thus: not jealous, nor secure –
I would not have your free and noble nature,
Out of self-bounty be abused – look to’t.
I know our country disposition well:
In Venice they do let heaven see the pranks
They dare not show their husbands; their best conscience
Is not to leave’t undone, but keep’t unknown.’
Iago to Othello

‘As – to be bold with you –
Not to affect many proposed matches
Of her own clime, complexion, and degree,
Whereto we see in all things nature tends –
Foh! One may smell in such a will most rank,
Foul disproportion, thoughts unnatural’
Iago to Othello

‘I had rather be a toad
And live upon the vapour of a dungeon,
Than keep a corner in the thing I love
For others’ uses.’
Othello, soliloquy

‘I will in Cassio’s lodgings lose this napkin,
And let him find it. Trifles light as air
Are to the jealous confirmations strong
As proofs of holy writ. This may do something.
The Moor already changes with my poison:
Dangerous conceits are in their natures poisons.
Which at the first are scarce found to distaste,
But with a little act upon the blood,
Burn like the mines of sulphur. I did say so.
Look where he comes. Not poppy, nor mandragora,
Nor all the drowsy syrups of the world
Shall ever medicine thee to that sweet sleep
Which thou owedst yesterday.’
Iago, soliloquy

‘I had been happy if the general camp,
Pioneers and all, had tasted her sweet body,
So I had nothing known.’
Othello to Iago

‘Villain, be sure thou prove my love a whore!
Be sure of it; give me the ocular proof;
Or, by the worth of mine eternal soul,
Thou hadst been better have been born a dog
Than answer my waked wrath!’
Othello to Iago

‘I’ll tear her all to pieces!’
Othello to Iago

‘O, that the slave had forty thousand lives –
One is too poor, too weak for my revenge!
Now do I see ’tis true. Look here, Iago:
All my fond love thus do I blow to heaven – ’tis gone!
Arise, black Vengeance from thy hollow hell,
Yield up, O Love, thy crown and hearted throne
To tyrannous Hate! Swell, bosom, with thy fraught,
For ’tis of aspics’ tongues.’
Othello to Iago

‘Witness that here Iago doth give up
The execution of his wit, hands, heart
To wronged Othello’s service.’
Iago to Othello

‘Not with vain thanks, but with acceptance bounteous;
And will upon the instant put thee to’t.
Within these three days let me hear thee say
That Cassio’s not alive.’
Othello to Iago

‘Damn her, lewd minx! O, damn her, damn her!
Come, go with me apart; I will withdraw
To furnish me with some swift means of death
For the fair devil. Now art thou my lieutenant.’
Othello to Iago

Scene 4

‘that handkerchief
Did and Egyptian to my mother give;
She was a charmer, and cold almost read
The thoughts of people; she told her, while she kept it
‘Twould make her amiable and subdue my father
Entirely to her love – but if she lost it,
Or made a gift of it, my father’s eye
Should hold her loathed, and his spirits should hunt
After new fancies. She dying, gave it me
And bid me, when my fate would have me wived,
To give it her. I did so; and, take heed on’t,
Make it a darling like your precious eye:
To lose’t or give’t away were such perdition
As nothing else could match.
. . .
‘Tis true; there’s magic in the web of it:
A sybil, that had numbered in the world
The sun to course two hundred compasses,
In her prophetic fury sewed the work;
The worms were hallowed that did breed the silk,
And it was dyed in mummy, which the skilful
Conserved of maidens’ hearts.’
Othello to Desdemona

‘Why do you speak so startling and rash?’
Desdemona to Othello

”Tis not a year or two shows us a man:
They are all but stomachs, and we all but food;
To eat us hungerly; and when they are full
They belch us.’
Emilia to Desdemona

‘But jealous souls will not be answered so;
They are not ever jealous for the cause,
But jealous for they’re jealous. It is a monster
Begot upon itself, born on itself.’
Emilia to Desdemona