Tag Archives: LC Poetry

Exam style questions on Wordsworth

Wordsworth has not been examined in the Leaving Certificate since 1996 – at that time the syllabus and exam were different and so the format of the question does not apply to us. However, the following are the types of questions that could be asked in the exam about Wordsworth.

  1. ‘The poetry of William Wordsworth is memorable for the imagery created by him.’ Discuss this view of the poetry of William Wordsworth as studied by you for the Leaving Certificate.
  2. ‘In William Wordsworth’s poetry there is a vivid evocation of both the natural world and the mind of the poet.’ Do you agree with this view of Wordsworth’s poetry? Support the points you make with suitable reference to the poetry of Wordsworth on your course.
  3. ‘The poetry of William Wordsworth has much to offer the modern reader.’ Discuss the relevance of Wordsworth’s themes and language in today’s world. Support your points by reference and quotation.
  4. Wordsworth’s stated aim was to make poetry easily understood by the common reader. From studying his themes and language, do you feel he succeeded? Discuss your view supporting all points made by reference to the poems of Wordsworth on your course.
  5. ‘Introducing William Wordsworth.’ Write out the text of a short presentation you would make to 6th year students under the above title. Support your point of view by reference to or quotation from the poetry of William Wordsworth that you have studied.
  6. ‘For Wordsworth, memories of nature and of the people he loved both refresh and inspire him.’ Do you agree with this assessment of his poetry? Your answer should focus on both themes and stylistic features. Support your points with the aid of suitable reference to the poems you have studied.
William Wordsworth (1770 – 1850)

Romantic Literature

As we prepare to study the poetry of William Wordsworth, it is worthwhile taking a brief look at Romantic Literature in general. Here is a list of some of the poets and writers that you may be interested in researching. Some of them you will be familiar with already.

  • William Blake (1757 – 1827)
  • William Wordsworth (1770 – 1850)
  • Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772 – 1834)
  • Lord Byron (1788 – 1824)
  • James Fenimore Cooper (1789 – 1851)
  • Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792 – 1822)
  • John Keats (1795 – 1821)
  • Mary Shelley (1797 – 1851)
  • Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804 – 1864)
  • Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807 – 1882)
  • Edgar Allen Poe (1809 – 1849)
  • Walt Whitman (1819 – 1892)
  • Herman Melville (1819 – 1891)

This video is also worth a look. It gives a brief overview of the Romantic style and themes.


Past exam questions on Hopkins

‘There are many reasons why the poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins appeals to his readers.’
In response to the above statement, write an essay on poetry of Hopkins. Your essay should focus clearly on the reasons why the poetry is appealing and should refer to the poetry on your course.

‘Hopkins conveys deep personal experience in a style which is both refreshing and dramatic.’
Discuss this statement in its entirety, supporting your answer by reference to the poems by Hopkins on your course.

Folens Sample 2
‘The poems of Hopkins alternate between gladness and dejection.’
To what extent would you agree with this assessment of the poems of Hopkins studied by you? Support your points by suitable quotation.

Folens Sample 4
‘Hopkins uses an odd, startling approach in the exploration of his themes.’
Discuss the poetry of Hopkins with regard to the above statement.

You have been asked to create an anthology of poetry. What poems by Gerard Manley Hopkins would you include? Give reasons for your answer.

Boland – forging a personal understanding

Themes that arise in Boland’s poetry:
Ireland’s troubled and violent past
The significance of myth
The experience of being a woman – mother, housewife, lover . . .
Love and Relationships
Public and private worlds

Style and Technique
Detached observation
Imagery – vivid and striking
Metaphor and simile
Structure and form
Varied and interesting line length
Literary allusion

Forging a personal understanding
Which poems did you particularly like?
What were the main issues raised for you?
What setting, colours and moods do you associate with Boland?
What did Boland add to your personal understanding of Irish history?
Does Boland make an important contribution to feminist thinking?
What insights did she give you into suburban life?
Would you consider her a radical poet?
Why do you think we should read her poetry?
What general understanding of the poet did you form?
What is important in her life?
How does she see herself?
Is she a happy or a sad person?

Past exam questions on Boland

‘Boland’s reflective insights are expressed through her precise use of language.’
Write your response to this statement, supporting your answer with suitable reference to the poetry on your course.

‘The appeal of Eavan Boland’s poetry.’
Using the above title, write an essay outlining what you consider to be the appeal of Boland’s poetry. Support your points by reference to the poetry of Eavan Boland on your course.

Write a personal response to the poetry of Eavan Boland.
Support the points you make by reference to the poetry of Boland that you have studied.

Past exam questions on Kavanagh

In your opinion, is Kavanagh successful in achieving his desire to transform the ordinary world into something extraordinary?
Support your answer with suitable reference to the poems on your course.


Imagine you were asked to select one or more of Patrick Kavanagh’s poems from your course for inclusion in a short anthology entitled ‘The Essential Kavanagh’.
Give reasons for your choice, quoting from or referring to the poem or poems you have chosen.


Other exam-style questions:

‘The loneliness and isolation of the individual are the themes which dominate Kavanagh’s poetry.’
Discuss this statement in relation to the poems by Patrick Kavanagh on your course.


‘The relationship between place and person is central to the poetry of Patrick Kavanagh.’
Discuss this view of Kavanagh’s poetry referring to the poems studied by you.


How effective is Kavanagh’s portrayal of Irish rural society in your opinion?
Refer to the poems by Kavanagh on your Leaving Certificate course.


‘Kavanagh’s poetry is pervaded by a deep sense of loss.’
Do you agree or disagree with this statement? Support the points you make with reference to the poems by Kavanagh studied by you.

Bruce Ismay ‘After the Titanic’

One of the people who will forever be associated with Titanic is Bruce Ismay, owner of the White Star Line that made the ship. He was on the maiden voyage and, of course, survived the tragedy. His fate his sympathetically described by Derek Mahon in the poem ‘After the Titanic’:

  They said I got away in a boat
And humbled me at the inquiry. I tell you
  I sank as far that night as any
Hero. As I sat shivering on the dark water
  I turned to ice to hear my costly
Life go thundering down in a pandemonium of
  Prams, pianos, sideboards, winches,
Boilers bursting and shredded ragtime. Now I hide
  In a lonely house behind the sea
Where the tide leaves broken toys  and hatboxes
  Silently at my door. The showers of
April, flowers of May mean nothing to me, nor the
  Late light of June, when my gardener
Describes to strangers how the old man stays in bed
  On seaward mornings after nights of
Wind, takes his cocaine and will see no one. Then it is
  I drown again with all those dim
Lost faces I never understood, my poor soul
  Screams out in the starlight, heart
Breaks loose and rolls down like a stone.
  Include me in your lamentations.

His life after Titanic is described in an article written by Rosita Boland in the Irish Times of 7th April 2012. Follow this link to read the article:


If your time and interest stretch to reading a whole book on the topic then it is worth looking at Frances Wilson’s biography ‘How to Survive the Titanic or The Sinking of Bruce Ismay’.