From The Antique by Christina Rossetti: complete analysis

If you find this helpful check out my full Rossetti revision guide Rossetti’s poem explores the difficulties of women in the Victorian era, struggling to find a place where they are valued for themselves and what they can offer in a world where – sometimes – men seem to have all the power. Bleakly she asks the question: would anyone notice if I were gone? It’s a heartbreaking lyric poem which speaks to the misery that seems to have haunted Rossetti for a good part of her life.  It’s a weary life, it is, she said:  Doubly blank in a …

Rossetti’s Winter: My Secret (Poetry analysis)

Winter: My Secret is part of the Rossetti collection studied for A-Level with OCR, so I taught it earlier this week. It’s a gorgeous poem that really rewards further detailed reading. On a first read through, it’s fairly straightforward – a woman who has a secret but refuses to tell it. But looking more closely, the playful, teasing tone starts to suggest that there is something more – what could the secret be? Is there a secret at all? Although there’s plenty of options for interpretation, tome it speaks of a woman trying to hold onto something of her mystery …

Exploring effect in the new poetry anthology

I’ve started off the GCSE course with the poetry anthology  it’s a great way to build skills of literary analysis and the close understanding of literary terminology that’s needed throughout the GCSE. So far it’s working brilliantly, but there’s been a lot of concern about the closed-book nature of the exam, and whether students need to learn poems. I think meaning can be explored in other ways. Obviously, we need to come back to language, form and structure, but there are plenty of ways to do that without learning the poems off by heart. Exploring the creation of meaning can be done …

Winter Swans – an exploration of one of my favourites

I’m teaching the new AQA GCSE anthology at the moment, and it has Winter Swans in, which is one of my favourite poems from Sheers’ collection. So I figured I’d set down some thoughts on it. Winter Swans On initial reading, the poem isn’t overly complex – the story of a couple whose relationship is undergoing some turbulent times but, but the end of the poem, they experience a brief interlude of calm. Sheer’s imagery of the swan has been criticised as being slightly heavy handed in some reviews of the collection – the dialogue in particular, of the lover …

How to start a great essay

Essay writing is a great way to practise writing skills, whether your preferred genre is fiction or non-fiction. You need to have a clear goal in mind, your phrasing needs to be both beautiful and clear, and you need to make every word, as when writing poetry, count. It’s always been a great art form too – although I suppose essayists were something like the newspaper editorial columnists of their day! While columnists write generally on relatively transient and personal ideas, the great essayists wrote meditations where they really thought about the big questions. William Hazlitt and John Stuart Mill …