So...a few hours to your actual leaving cert orals (if you are unlucky enough to be born into a name at the start of the alphabet - I feel your pain, I was tempted to change my name to O' Dowd!). To make matters worse I have asked you to write a poetry essay on good old Willie W. I bet you are as enthusiastic as he is in the picture opposite. 

The question is:

"In his poetry there is a vivid evocation of both the natural world and the mind of the poet" Do you agree or disagree with this view. Support your answer.

It's actually a fairly straightforward question. Does Wordsworth discuss nature and mental health in his poetry? Yes. So what you should do next is draw up a plan, use at least FIVE poems to be on the safe side. See below for a simple plan to get you started - you should add to this before you begin your essay. 

Remember use topic sentences, how are your paragraphs answering the question. Refer to the question at all times and use very specific quotes, only discuss what is relevant to the question, cut the rest.


  • The Beneficial Influence of Nature
  • Nature elicits noble, elevated thoughts and passionate emotions


  • The spiritual quality of nature
  • "With speed put on your woodland dress"
  • The 'blessing in the air' 


  •  The 'tranquillity' of the setting sun
  • "heaven broods o’er the sea"


  • The feeling of euphoria nature has to offer
  • "Ne’er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep"


  • The visual beauty of nature
  • "The untrodden ways
    Beside the springs of Dove"


  • He praises solitude and idealises those who appear to be solitary and at one with nature

Sylvia Plath reads her poem...it's a very distinct voice!

This is Plath's poem about the importance of poetic inspiration. Her biggest fear is her loss of the "incandescent...celestial burning" that inspires her writing. She reckons life would be unbearable without it. The moments of inspiration that she is subjected to (ie: the momentary inspiration that shines from the rooks wet feathers) gives her life meaning and future direction. Even the most mundane scenarios can be illuminated in an instance, "bestowing largesse, honour, / One might say love." More than anything this poem demonstrates that for her, poetry was her life. 

Some points to note:
  • The poet is in a depressed state about her writing; "I do not expect miracles" /  "season of fatigue"
  • Her fear of "total neutrality" - never to be inspired again is her worst nightmare
  • Her desire for inspiration from the physical world around her, some "backtalk"
  • The need to be alert at all times because inspiration can occur at any moment, without warning - the "sudden arrival of the angel"
  • For her, inspiration was heavenly, an honour bestowed on someone

Okay, so your last ever term of school is just about to start. How does that make you feel? For some the end is in sight. For others its creeping up way to fast. One thing is for sure you have an exam to do in approximately nine weeks. So my advice to you is to keep your head down, stay on top of your work, and DO NOT procrastinate. Give yourself a task and a time limit and see it out to the end.

For those of you who came into school over the Easter to do the 'post mock - pre leaving cert exam' I want to say well done. It is the type of practice you would never carry out at home on your own unless you are very disciplined. Those of you who weren't able to make it in, I am attaching the paper to this blog so you can download it yourself. 

I can imagine some of you would find this paper difficult. The reason I say this is because some of you think you can predict the exam so have disregarded all the good work you did last year. Just because Rich came up last year does not rule her out for this year. Do not fall into that trap. You will have studied FIVE poets, you need to know these FIVE in detail - not one or two and hope that they come up. Gambling is a dangerous game, especially when you are gambling your own future. 

Furthermore, don't take it for granted that THEME/ISSUE will come up on the exam. This is not always the case, so have TWO modes studied and with some key moments prepared for the exam. Do not sell yourself short. You have put in a lot of work so far this year but you need to give it one last big effort. 

You can do what you like in July, but for now concentrate on the weeks ahead and put in as much effort as you can. Also, don't copy other people, you know the areas you need to work on yourself. Now is the time to JUST DO IT!

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"Either we heal now....as a team....or we will die as individuals" 
(Any Given Sunday)

Speech due on Friday

'Apocalypse Now'
The world is on the brink of destruction - as The President you must address the nation in an attempt to inspire belief in humanity

Here are some top tip:
  • Address the audience
  • You could possibly begin with an inspiring quote or a short anecdotal story
  • Address the topic/problem immediately 
  • Use pronouns 'we' 'our' 'us'
  • Use rhetorical questions to grab the audiences attention and engage them
  • Repetition  is always important to cement ideas in the listeners
  • Play on the listeners emotions

Remember that your speech is mean't to be read out loud so keep the TONE in mind when writing your speech

Evoke God, justice, big ideas, unity....

Although not directly related to this topic have a listen to Al Pacino's speech in Any Given Sunday. Listen out for the big ideas, the repetition, the emotional anecdotal stories - how he makes it personal and the ending...he questions the players, he leaves it up to them to decide.

Also notice how his sentences get shorter as they become more powerful and hard-hitting, try to do the same...

"Either we heal now....as a team....or we will die as individuals"
How many times to he say 'inches'?

***Warning - there is some bad language in this speech*** 
(on this note please remember not to use any bad language in your writing - keep it clean!) 

Poetry Analysis Steps

1. Read the poem several times.

2. Define any unknown words

3. Identify: 
  • Sound Devices: the rhyme scheme, alliteration, onomatopoeia consonance, assonance, sibilance etc
  • Figurative Language: metaphors, simile, hyperbole, personification 
  • Other Poetic Devices: symbolism, irony, allusion 

4. Identify the tone of the poem. Provide evidence to support your answer?

5. Identify the point of view. Who is the speaker(s) of the poem? (A Child, An Old Man, A Tree etc.) Who is the audience? (Who is the poem written for? Is it politically, socially or religiously charged? If so does this offer an insight as to who it is written for?)

6. What is taking place in the poem? (Actions or ideas)

7. What is the central purpose of the poem? (Theme(s))

Exam Pointers:

SECTION ONE: Comprehension (100 marks)
SECTION TWO: Comparative Study (70 Marks)

Section One:
You will be given two texts - You have to answer a Question A from one text and a Question B from the other.

(Question B topics:
 Letter OR Diary Entry OR Report)

Section Two:
You will be given a choice between THEME/ISSUE or LITERARY GENRE
***Make sure you revise both because if you rely on just one topic then you limit yourself in the exam if the question does not suit you***

HOMEWORK: Essay on Theme/Issue: Control

As outlined in previous blogs your essay should be a comparison of the similarities and differences in the texts. This should be a blend of summary and analysis. Also ensure you compare both texts simultaneously. In class I gave you a system on which to structure your answer but here are some more tips:

The most important thing to decide on in advance is what aspects/topics you wish to compare: For theme or issue you might plan it out like this but at all times focus on answering the Q:

  • Introduction: Address the question, introduce your theme, then your texts – genre, name, author and mention the central characters that you will focus on in your discussion of this theme. Give a brief overview of what you hope to discuss in your answer. 
  • How is this theme introduced? How does this theme affect the central character/characters?
  • How is this theme developed? Do the central characters embrace or fight against it? How?
  • Do other characters influence how this theme unfolds? (Example: Jasper is an opponent of govt control in CM, while Parsons is the ideal Party member in 1984)
  • How does the text end & what are our final impressions of this theme as a result? In 1984 the govt remain in control however in CM an revolution/uprising has begun
  • Conclusion: Sum up you argument/discussion by reiterating what you have said – refer to the question again discussing both texts


  • Similarly
  • Likewise
  • Also
  • In addition
  • As well as
  • In the same degree
  • Comparatively 
  • Correspondingly
  • Furthermore
  • While in
  • In contrast
  • However
  • Conversely
  • At variance with
  • Contrariwise
  • On the other hand
  • Moreover

Question for homework:

'A strong wilful character is a key component in any text'. Discuss in relation to the texts you have studied. (Literary Genre)

Your homework (for Thursday) is to PLAN out what you hope to discuss in relation to 1984 and CM AND write the introduction an first paragraph of your answer.
Before you set out to write your comparative you need to have a clear idea of what you want to discuss. Before you write anything you should make a table of what points you wish to discuss: (obviously in relation to the question you are asked - ie: the example below is about 'Theme/Issue')

THEME - Control


  • Government control everything - Four Ministries 
  • Propaganda - Victory Gin etc.
  • Society is like a prision - under constant surveillance eg: telescreens 
  • Government ensure a constant state of war to rule by fear
  • Totalitarian rule - the government has complete authority
  • The ignorance of Parsons (Winston's neighbour) and how this type of mindset is how the government succeed in maintaining complete control

Children of Men [CM]

  • Government are trying to control everything - are they successful? Choose some example
  • Traditional figures of government authority are not to be trusted eg: Border control, and embassy officials.
  • Refugee camps are like prisons - shows that even a supposedly 'democratic' country enforces non democtratic or totalitarian methods to keep order 
  • Propaganda - 'Quietus' etc.
  • Government staged bombing to create a world of fear
  • The apathy and ignorance of Theo's cousin  (Nigel) when he says 'I just don't think about it'

How you go about actually writing/structuring your answer

Intertwined Jumper VS Striped Jumper

Once you have a general plan of the topics you want to discuss in relation to 1984 and CM you need to further organise these into paragraphs. For instance, if you are going to discuss the use of propaganda as a mean of control then discuss how propaganda is implemented in both (or in the three) texts at the same time.

The Striped Jumper method is fine when it comes to discussing poems by an individual poet but for the comparative you need to intertwine each text and link them up so it cannot be easily separated into an individual essay.

Look at the STRIPED JUMPER above and pretend that the black part is 1984 and the white part is CM (each part represents a paragraph. You can see that both texts are 'discussed' but they can be easily separated into a black pile and a white pile. Now look at the INTERTWINED JUMPER if blue is 1984 and red is CM how easy do you think it would be to separate the wool and make two piles of the same coloured wool? They are blended in so seamlessly that it would be very difficult and tedious to take this jumper apart. 

This is how your comparative essay should be. You need to identify similar (or opposite) topics that crop up in both texts and discuss them within the same paragraph. An example of this would be:

When we are introduced to Winston's workplace, the ironically named Ministry of Truth, its physical presence is a powerful symbol of the authority and control that the government has over its citizens. It is an enormous pyramidal structure of glittering white concrete rising 300 metres into the air, containing over 3000 rooms above ground. Similarly in CM the visual impact of government buildings adds to the air of authority that the government has over the people. As Theo makes his excursion into the wealthy section of London, the skyline is a overpowering mass of white concrete buildings - the sheer size of the buildings as Theo exits the his car is purposefully emphasised to suggest power and control. In both 1984 and CM these buildings play an important role in emphasising the fact that the government is not only a powerful force to be reckoned  with, but also demonstrates the physical nature of the control and authority. Its shows that the government has a base an is firmly cemented into the furniture of society. In 1984 the Ministries seek to control everything from what the people read to what they eat. Individualism is strictly forbidden and deviation from what the authorities provide is illegal and could result in the person being 'vaporised'. This vigorous appetite for control is also evident in CM, illustrated in the fact that Theo has to lie to his relative in order to secure transit papers for Kee. 

To be continued....(hope this helps a little)
HOMEWORK - Write a letter of complaint to the Ministry of Truth outlining your views on the work they carry out.

Letter writing is about using the language of argument and persuasion to put across your views on something.
It appears on paper one of the exam and is usually worth 50 marks (Macbeth is worth 60 marks) so it needs to be a fairly comprehensive letter. I'm looking for about 2 A4 pages for homework because I'm nice, normally you are looking at 3+. Here is a guideline of what I am expecting:
  • Correct Layout - ie: addresses in appropriate places (these can be fictional)
  • Structured and organised - paragraphs and properly developed points
  • 3-5 relevant points (main body of the letter to contain same number of paragraphs)
  • Don't stray off topic: keep your letter focused and concise (no waffle)
  • Do be original (avoid being predictable and clichéd)
  • NB: Don't just highlight the problems otherwise your letter will be a long rant - offer some solutions! So highlight the problems you see and offer an alternative that you believe will work.

Possible ideas/topics to discuss in your letter:
- The role of the Records Dept - altering historical records etc
- The role of the Fiction Dept - re-writing texts in 'newspeak' 
- The new dictionary - what is your view on it
- The use of 'memory holes' to destroy anything defamatory towards The Party 
- The Ministry's role in propaganda/censorship and cultural repression

Look in PAPER ONE section of the website to download a sample letter (Note: letter is not related to 1984 but will show you how to lay it out and the type of language you are expected to use.)