[NOTE: there is a separate document about the different selection of poems set for examination in years 2007, 2008 and 2009.] CONTENTS Introduction:How to use these Notes 1. Thomas Hardy, ‘The Voice’ 2. Allen Curnow, ‘Time’ 3. Matthew Arnold, ‘Dover Beach’ 4. Adrienne Rich, ‘Amends’ 5. Ted Hughes, ‘Full Moon and Little Frieda’ 6. Gillian Clarke, ‘Lament’ 7. John Keats, ‘On the Grasshopper and the Cricket’ 8. Vachel Lindsay, ‘The Flower-Fed Buffaloes’ 9. Boey Kim Cheng, ‘Report to Wordsworth’ 10. John Clare, ‘First Love’ 11. Dennis Scott,‘Marrysong’ 12. Lord Byron, ‘So, We’ll Go No More A-Roving’ 13. Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Sonnet 43 14. Edna St Vincent Millay, Sonnet 29
© University of Cambridge International Examinations 2008
Introduction: How to use these Notes
There are three key principles on which the format of these support materials is based: 1. The first is the fundamental assumption that no such materials canreplace the teacher. It is the teacher’s task to introduce the poem to the students and help them to form their own personal responses to what they read. Examiners can easily differentiate between students who have genuinely responded to literature for themselves and those who have merely parroted dictated or packaged notes. Teachers, establishing their dialogues in the classroom, need to encourageand trust students to arrive at their own points of view, insisting only that these shall based firmly on what is being studied. This of course immediately rules out any thought of notes of ‘prepared’ answers to be memorised. 2. The notes take for granted that each poem is unique and must be treated in a unique fashion. Examiners are often dismayed at the way some students seem to have been trainedto follow strict agendas when dealing with poems, such as dealing first with imagery, then sentence structure, then prosody and so on, whatever the poem and whatever the question. Approaches such as this are almost always simplistic and superficial. By contrast, we wish to encourage students to identify what is special about a poem, what impact it makes on them, and work outwards from thatperception. They shouldn’t think of ‘content’ and ‘style’ as discrete areas to be ticked off a list; but instead should be encouraged to think of them together. So in these Notes students are constantly being enjoined to look simultaneously not only at what is said, but how it is said. 3. Each poem is considered to have a universal appeal, and the Notes try only to introduce extraneous knowledge insofaras it might help students to appreciate the poem. If there is or might be an underlying private concern, as for example in the case of Hardy’s ‘The Voice’, biographical references are mentioned but deliberately downplayed to prevent this interfering with the direct communication between the poet and the twenty-first century reader in whatever part of the world s/he happens to be. With this inmind, the notes on each poem – which are addressed to the teacher – are divided into four sections: Background aims at putting the poem briefly into some sort of context. This can be embroidered as much or as little as the teacher sees fit. It is most important, however, that it should be dealt with quite quickly. Precious time should rather be spent on the poem itself. Teachers should remember thatknowledge of historical/biographical context is not a formal Assessment Objective in this syllabus; students are not expected to show knowledge of it in the exam (not least as there is always the risk of their wasting valuable time in regurgitating second-hand details – for which they will gain no credit). Teacher notes to assist a first reading aims at clarifying some areas of potential...