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IGCSE English Literature (0486): Songs of Ourselves

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Ruru (Juan Ru) Hoong

on 30 October 2012

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Transcript of IGCSE English Literature (0486): Songs of Ourselves

Songs of Ourselves IGCSE English Literature On the Grasshopper
and the Cricket by John Keats Full Moon and Little Frieda Amends by Adrienne Rich Amends is, among other things, an appreciation of Nature and an observance of the destruction man has wreaked upon it. Adrienne Rich was passionately against the destruction and pollution of our planet- the poem's portrayal of Nature through various metaphors reinforce that. However, Rich was also a feminist, and the moon in the story could be an allusion to females- women that are always making amends for men though they have done no wrong.
Personification: Rich conveys the redemptive and forgiving power of nature. She writes 'laying its cheek on the sand', portraying the moon as a living entity, as if it is alive and filled with tender emotion. This use of imagery shows the moon a gentle and caring being, describing it in a positive and uplifting manner- reiterating the idea that Nature is forgiving and assuring. Nature lays its cheek on the sand as if listening to it, appreciating it- a gentle and sensual gesture that makes the see that it is nurturing and loving. It also conveys the message that the moon is everywhere, that it can do anything- it is supple and ever changing, as well as omnipresent.
Repetition of 'as it': Nature does more than one thing at a time; it is ubiquitous, even enigmatic and hard to understand.
The last line, however, suddenly changes to 'as if'- 'as if to make amends'. Although we have, as a human race, done so much to harm Nature, it still ‘dwells’ on us, as if to ‘make amends’- it tries to apologize, make up for something they didn’t do- even though humans are the ones that are causing harm! Nature’s unconditional love fills readers with a warmth, and conveys the message that we should stop destroying it- delivering us from our destructive deeds and demonstrating the redemptive power of Nature in Amends. However, an alternative interpretation of this can be offered as Rich was a feminist- Nature could be an allegory for women- the suppressed, subdued, and bullied gender that had done nothing wrong- but yet had to ‘make amends’. Even so, Rich conveys the redemptive power of Nature through its symbolism for women. Women are portrayed as loving, caring, and motherly, and serve to make everything seem better and to ‘make amends’, reflecting the redemptive power of both Nature and the female gender in Amends. Language Structure Four unrhymed quatrains: This represents the four seasons- a never-ending cycle that reinforces the thought that Nature is ceaseless, reassuring readers and adding wonder and mystery to the poem.
First two stanzas: Gentle, flowing calm: talks about Nature
Last two stanzas: Darker, ominous, talks about Mankind Irregular rhythm: Unpredictable and abstruse, leaving an unfinished sentence. Reiterates the thought that Nature is unfathomable, no one can control or understand it, even as we destroy it. Written in response to a competition between him and his friend, John Keats pens a profound Petrarchan sonnet illustrating his strong sense of love for Nature. He reinforces the Romantic belief that the beauty of nature is eternal and vividly portrays the smorgasbord of pleasures it has to offer, showing that it is constant, vital, and of paramount importance. The personification of nature:
'A voice will run': anthropomorphism
Energetic and lively: enjoying their freedom, activeness, great spirit
Nature is alive, grasshoppers make noise
Easy to relate to, mesmerized by the beauty and energy of summer; positive side of Nature
'Wrought a silence'
Cold, hushed- winter; no sound- the power of Nature
Not negative, but shows the tranquility and the peace, a different type of beauty Language Metaphor
Diurnal grasshopper: summer
Beauty heard in its call; thrilling, exciting, enthralling
Nocturnal grasshopper: winter
Offers reminder of summer, reassurance
Reminds us of good times and gives warmth and hope
Nature is a never-ending cycle, will always be there in perpetuity
Nature is everywhere, always reminding us of it day and night
Balance of nature and opposites Structure Endless cycle of summer and winter (grasshopper and cricket)
Like seasons/ life, Nature lasts forever
Always there, omnipresent
Everlasting 'Poetry of the earth is never dead'
Implying that nature is ever-changing, reiterating his appreciation of the cycle of life- nature's beauty and wonder is infinite
Metaphor: 'music' of the earth is never dead- grasshopper and crickets are metaphorical poets- odd because they seem inconsequential. It invokes readers to reflect: we can always turn to nature to look for a 'concert': provides all the entertainment we need and eschews materialism
'Poetry': artistic beauty and appeal: eloquence and beauty of nature. The opposites of nature show a wide spectrum, so there is always something to wonder at. The definition of beauty is varied, no set standard unlike society's perception of beauty, once again eschewing materialism
This quote instills the notion of Keat's Romantic belief of constancy, vitality, and the importance of nature, setting a foundation for deep reflection and appreciation of surroudings So We'll Go No
More A-Roving by Lord Byron Notorious for his flamboyant nature and lavish lifestyle, Lord Byron writes this poem about loss- the death of his passion and philandering ways. He writes this in the Romantic Era, where love for Nature and the supernatural reign, and where people were free, simple, and spontaneous and had a dislike for urban life. Lord Byron espouses those values and expresses his regrets of social conformity as well as reinforces his hegemonic masculinity through various sexual allusions. Metaphor:
'Sword outwears it sheath, and the soul wears out the breast.'
'Sword, soul'- phallic symbol, 'Sheath, breast' vaginal symbol
Sexist image: women were disposable, men more important: hegemonic masculinity
Men are stronger and last longer
Soul and body- Metaphysical and supernatural
Tired out: breast is only a vessel
Youth is coming to an end: exaggerated as he was only 29
Soul connected to body?- increases mystique of poem
Reference to medieval age Language Symbols:
Moon and nighttime: Romantic image of love
Mysterious, secretive, private, dark, symbolizes unaccepted social things: powerful image
Moon is eternally bright, Nature stays youthful but he continues to age
However all this has to come to an end, social order returns during the day
If this metaphor is stretched, you could say that the night returns, meaning his loss of love is short lived, just a part of the cyclical nature of his doubts Structure Rhyme
Bouncy and jaunty rhythm
Juxtaposition with his lachrymose message
Is he joking? Assonance
'O' sound of 'So We'll Go No More A-Roving'
Sounds like he's moaning the loss of his lavish lifestyle
Reflecting on the dilipidated physical and spiritual state of his body after years of unscrupulous way of recreation
Seems regretful, mournful Dover Beach by Matthew Arnold Matthew Arnold was a religious man writing during the Industrial Revolution- he saw a movement away from God towards a colder, crueler reality of soulless steam engines and evolution theory and interpreted it as a challenge to moral and religious precepts. He mourns the loss of Nature and belief in God, and denounces the rise of science and technology. Personification: 'Sea of Faith': Extended Metaphor
Capitalized 'F', Faith represents religion and God
Used to be full, people had their faith in God, but the Sea of Faith has retreated and become a sea of doubt, we put our faith in material things
'Sea is calm tonight': tranquil, peaceful, Nature in positive light
'Grating roar of pebble which the waves draw back and fling'
Nature and religion are alive, trying to get out attention
People are losing faith, God is angry
'Begin, and cease and then again begin, with tremulous cadence slow, and bring the eternal note of sadness in'
Slow waning of religion, gradual change
Comes and goes like the tide, mankind is fickle
Anger fades to sorrow, grief, desolation
'It's melancholy, long, withdrawing roar, retreating'
Beaten by science, defeated, fading Language Allusion to the Peloponnesian War: 'Ignorant armies clash by night'
During the war people were confused, soldiers ended up killing their own and the golden age of Greece ended
Saying that we are stupid and naive, harming nature and Good

'Sophocles heard it long ago on the Aegean'
Technology will eventually be our ultimate downfall: Sophocles is a tragedian Structure Rhyming: Sporadic rhyming here and there
Like the ebb and flow of waves
Omnipresent, reminding you
Don't let science take over religion
Alternatively, fading away Caesura- ;- ; :
Expresses the flaws of modernism: parallel to the imperfect
Broken with grief
Flaws of modernization will inevitably bring loss of faith and result in loss of equilibrium
Uncommon punctuation: something's wrong The Voice by Thomas Hardy 'In spite of the differences between us [...] my life is intensely sad without her.'

Thomas Hardy conveys his loss and bereavement in this poignant poem, imparting his melancholy and despair over the unfortunate death of his wife through the use of imagery, repetition, and various literary devices. Metaphor: 'Leaves around me falling'
They just died, about to hit the ground, like they're still moving and alive
Representative of his life
Still feel like his wife's alive, hasn't been able to get over it yet
Autumn: death and decay of leaves- not only his wife, but represents him- he has little to look forward to: just mechanically going through the motions
'Thorns' reinforce that leaves are gone: in fact, the entire passage represents him: 'oozing' wind, sluggish, lost wounded and exhausted, dragging through life Language Alliteration
'Faltering forward'
Hard plosive sound, like he's stuttering
He's stumbling on himself, moving with no direction
Doesn't know what to do or which way to go
Sibilance: 'wistlessness' 'listlessness'
Like the breeze, mimics sound of wind (associated with emptiness and loneliness): a whisper, like she's there, drifting
Slows the poem down: accentuates the ponderous atmosphere
'Wistlessness' isn't a proper word
Confused, muddled, doesn't care anymore Structure 4 stanzas: like 4 seasons, a full circle
Repeats over and over again: goes back to the beginning of the poem- hasn’t been able to come out of the inner battle with his emotions
1st stanza: melancholic, imagining woman’s voice
2nd stanza: Excited, Unstable state of mind, thinks he sees her
3rd stanza: Lachrymose, doubt besieging him
4th stanza: Melancholic and hearing his wife’s voice again Punctuation/ Caesura
First line short and broken by semicolon
Breathless and exhausted
Halting diction reflects his 'faltering' mood, as if broken by brief, cannot continue to live
Incomplete sentence structure, not grammatically complete, consisting of minor clauses strung together, with no finite verb, as if he is too exhausted or depressed to form a coherent sentence, simply throwing out words pertaining to his situation by Ted Hughes 'Healing and renewal are the true purpose of poetry and magic'

Ted Hughes published this profound poem, complex in its simplicity, in a anthology filled with bleak poetry (his wife had passed away). This poem is a ray of light- depicting the simplicity and beauty o Nature as well as a child's pure wonderment. ‘Cool’ and ‘Warm’: juxtapose: reflects the delicateness of the evening
‘A cool small evening’
Simple words that reflect the simplicity of things
As a child, Frieda would use simple words as well
Reflects influence daughter has on him
‘Warm wreaths of breath’
Small, and intricate, contrary to big, lumbering cows
Encompasses how delicate and intimate moment is Language Personification: alive
‘tense for the dew’s touch’: tactile imagery
Very precise, intricate details
Stillness in the air: Frieda listening attentively
Ted is enraptured by Frieda, charmed by her observance of nature
‘tempt a first star to a tremor’
Tempting: tantalizing, nature is enticing
First star: violent, contrary to peaceful tone
How precarious everything is Structure Rhyme and Rhythm
No rhyme and rhythm
Things are simple: the simplicity of things
Things are good enough as is, no need to add anything: random structure still flows Simile & Personification
‘stepped back like an artist gazing amazed’: moon is alive
Amazed at Frieda
Poet compared to moon- created a beautiful picture with words like the moon created a beautiful scene with moonlight
Works reflect the creator
Moon is an heavenly body: Frieda an heavenly creation
Makes us confused: who is watching who? Nature is also looking at us Sonnet 29 Edna St Vincent Millay 'Poetry enables the poet to challenge her readers preconceptions of life.'

Edna St Vincent Millay’s words hold true for Sonnet 29. She conveys the despondency of her situation by employing various literary techniques- she writes about the loss of love and how fragile and ephemeral it can be, as well offers different views on the temporality of love. Repetition of ‘Pity me not':
These are all metaphors and symbols for the waning of love
‘light’: glory, faith, and uplifting joy of love; beauties: pleasures and wonders of affection; ‘moon’: mysteries, amazement and otherworldly powers of passion
Triplets to emphasize why she shouldn’t be pitied
Tries to claim that she understood love wouldn’t last, claim the blame for the heartache
Has the opposite effect because it invokes even more pity for her in the readers as we can sense her conflicted emotions
Pain for the reality that ‘love is no more’ clashes with her repudiation of pity
Alternative interpretation can be offered: She could be insinuating that men have no emotions, but she is helpless to change it; being heartbroken is natural and men are despicable Language Antithesis
The last line of the poem counterposes the unbroken repetition of ‘pity me not’
Millay deftly changes it to ‘pity me that the heart is slow to learn/ When the swift mind beholds at every turn
Shows that she does not invite pity for the fact that his love has waned but rather claims all the blame- it is her fault that her heart cannot cope with the ever-changing and fleeting ways of love
Alternatively makes us think of men as ruthless, dispassionate Structure Rhyme and Rhythm
ABAB: 'day, away'
Emphasizes message of love: doesn't want to be pitied
Makes us pity her more
Emphasizes tone: lachrymose Simile & Personification
‘stepped back like an artist gazing amazed’: moon is alive
Amazed at Frieda
Poet compared to moon- created a beautiful picture with words like the moon created a beautiful scene with moonlight
Works reflect the creator
Moon is an heavenly body: Frieda an heavenly creation
Makes us confused: who is watching who? Nature is also looking at us First Love by John Clare John Clare penned this poem about the tremendous impact his first love had on him. He never married his first love, but later on in life after he had a mental breakdown, he developed multiple personalities and described Mary Joyce (his first love) as his first wife, as well as thought himself to be Lord Byron, feeding into the insecurity of the poem. Metaphor:
‘My life and all seemed turned to clay’
Insignificant, dull
Feeds into his own insecurity
She’s too amazing, too wonderful for him- better than him
He’s unimportant, incompatible
Clay is easily changed: his entire life has changed for her
‘My heart has left its dwelling place and can return no more-’
Love is very complex and confusing
He cannot return: cannot forget her
Always be enraptured by her: still thought of her in asylum
How could the person he loves most hurt him? Language Personification:
‘They spoke as chords do from the string’
Spoke: Trying to convey a message: love
Chords do from string: music, romance: their love is sweet and melodious, soothing, what he needs Structure Lack of punctuation
Confused, not thinking straight
Or maybe it's so that it flows and merges into one- his love flows Sonnet 43 by Elizabeth Barrett Browning 'Who so loves believes the impossible.'

The intense penultimate poem published in the collection Sonnets from the Portuguese, Sonnet 43 tells of Browning's irrevocable love for Robert, despite having a strict and disapproving father. The poem clearly revolves around the extent of her love and depicts its immensity, both physically and spritually. Repetition of '&': endless chain of '&'s
Many things about him: no limit, endless
Adds to iambic pentameter effect
Unnatural: loves him so much, it's more than humanly natural
Grammatically incorrect but still enhances poem:
Like father's disapproval, but her love is meant to be
Despite disapproval, she doesn't care: it's true love Language Triplets:
'depth & breadth & height' (spatial metaphor)
Multiplied: shows the magnitude of her infatuation
Cubed: 3D, real, like us
Loves every measurable thing about him
Again tries to quantify it Structure Rhyme and Rhythm
No rhyme and rhythm
Things are simple: the simplicity of things
Things are good enough as is, no need to add anything: random structure still flows Metaphor for love: Being and Ideal Grace
Both physical and non-physical
Being: human being
Life: their love is right, the entire point of being: meant to be
What is ideal, what is right, what is best: theirs is the most righteous and graceful of all love
Even spiritually correct
Allusion to religion: of deity and godliness and the emotional exchange at a morally higher level
Truly believes in love despite objections
Past human capacity: not enough for plethora of love Marrysong by Dennis Scott 'A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.'

Dennis Scott clearly depicts the ups and downs of marriage and conveys his view that marriage isn't perfect, but rather an educational journey. He emphasizes that his relationship isn't stable- but it's how he deals with obstacles that defines his marriage. In the end, he accepts the fact that they will never fully understand each other, and it's the journey, not the end, that matters. Extended metaphor: the vast journey that he has to undertake
'That territory, without seasons, shifted'
Always changing, not constant
Unpredictable unlike the seasons that always come and go
He 'charted': mapped
Started to understand her, but then she changed again
'made' wilderness; wild, wasteland, barren
'Accepted that geography, constantly strange'
Accepted that he wouldn't ever understand her completely
Ended up staying at home to get to know her: change in relationship
What marriage is about: getting to know a person, spending lives together
'Landscapes of her mind'
Plural: many landscapes: not smooth, constantly changing
More than one side to her: many facets of her personality Language Structure Third person narrative
Distant, like telling a story
Love is a story: an interesting journey
Doesn't only emphasize on the happy ending, fairytale: the whole plot with twists and problems No structured stanzas
Everything is clustered together in one continuous form
Jumbled up, amassed structure
Marriage is a continuous, never-ending journey
Full of obstacles and always confusing
First five lines in poem contains enjambment
Disrupts the flow: hesitant and unsure
As the poem progresses, flows better
Enjambed lines talked about his wife, the lines that followed subsequently had a more generalized view of their relationship
Gains confidence, certainty in its capricious nature Time by Allen Curnow 'Time goes, you say? Ah, no!
Alas, time stays, we go.'

Allen Curnow explores the complexities of Time and its mystery through his poem of the same name, published in reverse chronological order in the collection 'Early Days Yet'. He employs the concept of Newtonian Time as well as Time in a more abstract manner, depicting it as a confusing, unpredictable, but omnipresent entity. Alliteration and Triplets: 'call down, condense, confer'
Triplets : repeated emphasis, time can be anywhere, anything
Alliteration: makes it flow: like time is in harmony, long and drawn out, time is there, toiling away, omnipresent
'Call down': Time has a lot of `power, has always been in power and existence
'Condense': Time is a thing, but what state is it?
Ever-changing, everywhere, unpredictable
'Confer': time can speak to us Language 'The Beginning and the End'
Time is everything from beginning to end
Whole spectrum of things: even extremes
Derived from the bible, Revelation 22 Verse 13: 'I am the Alpha, the Omega, the first and the last, the Beginning and the End'
Like God, part of a spirit that's everywhere
Abstract concept like God
Hard to understand, unfathomable
Time is powerful, everything we need Structure Rhyme scheme AAA BBB
Conflicting messages
Time is very ordered, ticking away, same pattern
On the other hand, it's disordered, everywhere Repetition of 'I am'
'I am'
Time is everything: makes you think
What am I? What is Time?
Structural : gives a rhythm to the poem (ticking clock sound)
Sense of conflict
Frustrating in that it's repetitive
Yest reassuring like it's always will be there
Whirlwind of frustrating emotions: Time is not simple Flower-fed Buffaloes by Vachel Lindsay "Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed." - Mahatma Gandhi

Vachel Lindsay poignantly conveys her regret and melancholy over the human destruction of the natural world through depicting the waning of the buffaloes of the North American prairies. Her varied use of literary devices and the structure of her poem clearly express her emotions over the loss of Nature. Alliteration: important as Vachel Lindsay performed his pieces
You are what you eat
Portrays buffaloes in a positive, good light
Peaceful image of buffaloes grazing on flowers
We should take good care of them
Natural, flowing, peaceful sound Language Personification: 'Locomotives sing'
Ironical because they don't sound nice
People shoot buffaloes from trains: construction of railroad in 1850s hastened the depletion of buffaloes
Joyful, alive even though it's destroying things
Like humans, we take without care or concern
We're selfish Structure Rhyme scheme:
First four lines: ABAB; orderly flowing fashion
Beautiful perfection of the olden days
Mesmerizing, calms us, shows us tranquility and peace
After that, rhyming sporadic and abnormal scheme
Buffaloes and wild prairies disrupted by human influence
Corresponding disjointed rhyme scheme brings across his distress regarding the decline of buffaloes Punctuation ';-'
Uncommon grammatical conjunction: feels wrong
Both types of punctuation are used to begin a new phrase, like with a new phase in life
Humans have been newly introduced to the Americas and killing wildlife
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