Please read the whole thing.
Please help, I want to know how well I'm doing and I need to know how to IMPROVE. I'm upset because I spent 10 minutes annotating and highlighting and then I had 50 minutes to write my answer but I took 2 and a half hours to write this because I take a VERY long time to think of how I'm going to phrase each sentence. It has always been my problem in english.
I'm doing WJEC English GCSE and I just did a poetry comparison question. It is the second half of the literature unit 1 paper. I'm sitting it on May 20th.Don't worry if you have never done WJEC english exam board. I just need someone who is very good at english lit. to mark it. You can find the actual poems online. They are "the river's story" and "song of the city". I quoted song of the city in capitals because it appeared like that on the paper.
Ok so the question (1 hour to do this) :
Write about these poems and their effect on you. Show how they are similar and how they are different. 
My long answer:
The River’s Story, a poem written by Brian Patten, is a nostalgic reminiscence told from a river’s perspective about how “life was good” before the environment was destroyed by industry.
The theme of pollution and factories is evident in the second half of this poem. Patten mentions how factories have left the river “cowering/ In monstrous shadows”. The word “cowering” might have been used to make the reader feel sympathy for the river. By making the river seem innocent and helpless, the poet is emphasising how “monstrous” the factories are. This could be an attempt by the poet to share his view on the development of industry with the reader and hopefully make them feel the same way about it.
In the first half of the poem the atmosphere is happy and nostalgic, as Patten uses words such as “shilly-shallied”, “laughed” and “good”. However, later in the poem, there is a turning point- “It was a sweet time, a gone-time,/ A time before factories grew”. This repetition of “time” could be to remind the reader that this was the past and now life has been ruined for the river by “factories”. After the turning point, the lexis becomes negative- Patten uses words like “vomited” and “poisons”. This conveys a sad atmosphere, which contrasts with the start of the poem. These moods may have been juxtaposed to further emphasise how much of an impact factories and industry have had on nature.
Throughout the whole poem, the river is personified. It is said to have “skin” and other human-like abilities, such as yawning and stretching. In this way, Patten creates a solid image of the river as a carefree, happy human. He may have used this personification to make it easier for the reader to understand the river’s feelings and relate to it. I feel that this makes it easier for me to empathise with it. Patten also uses many metaphors in his poem. One metaphor he uses is “I wore lily-pads like medals”. This suggests that the river was proud of what it once owned. “Medals” are usually very valuable items to have, so by describing the lily-pads as “medals”, Patten is highlighting how important and valuable even the small things the river possessed were to it. Therefore, the reader is shown how much of a loss the river has suffered when it was “reduced to a trickle of filth” and this is, perhaps, to make them feel even more sympathy towards the river. The poem is structured with an irregular rhyme scheme but seems to flow well. The coherence of the poem could possibly represent how the river once flowed gracefully before “poisons” polluted it. Although the poem has an irregular rhyme scheme, there is one rhyming couplet- “Clogged with garbage and junk/ To an open sewer I’ve shrunk”. The fact that this is the only rhyming couplet in the poem makes these two lines stand out and attract the reader’s attention. The repeated harsh sounds in these two lines portray the river’s feelings and almost share the river’s anger with the reader.
Personally, I think this poem is very effective in making me share the emotions of the river and empathising with it. It makes me feel guilty for all the pollution that people have caused and how it has destroyed nature. When the river is shown to describe the factories as “drunken giants” who “vomited their poisons” into the river, I feel anger towards them. The “poisons” essentially killed the river and this makes me feel as if I want to go to the past and change what happened.
Gareth Owen takes a similar approach to industry in his SONG OF THE CITY. This is a poem about, like The River’s Story, how pollution and factories have caused damage but instead of about what they have done to nature, it is about how they have affected a city. It is therefore written from a city’s perspective. Unlike The River’s Story, which is about a rural area, this poem is about an urban area, showing that industry can cause urban to any place.
Unlike the other poem, the SONG OF THE CITY holds a depressing atmosphere all the way through. Violence and harshness is portrayed in this poem by words such as “choked’, “murder”, “blood” and “churned”. This hyperbole is possibly used to convey the writer’s strong feelings about the topic. This consistent sadness throughout the poem might be an effort by Owen to emphasise the cruelty and ruthlessness of industry. It could be said that the last stanza is not as depressing but more prayer-like. It seems as though the city is pleading for help and, unlike in The River’s Story, which states what happened in the past, this poem suggests what should be done in the future. The repetition of the phrase “Let me” makes the reader want to help.
Similarly to the other poem, the city is personified but to a greater extent. The city is described as having a “brain”, “limbs”, “belly” and “soul”. This makes it even easier to empathise with the city than the river in the other poem. This could be because the other poem is mostly a plea for sympathy, whereas THE SONG OF THE CITY seems to be a plea for help. The city is shown to mention that its “soul was bought in a deal”. This implies that people and industry treated the city with no respect, as they purchased its “soul” as if it wasn’t important and could be replaced. Owen might have said this to alert the reader about how money has become too important to people these days, even more important than the soul itself.
The poem is structured in a regular way with four lines per stanza and a regular rhyming scheme, in which the second and fourth line of each stanza rhyme. This supports the fact that it is a “SONG”. The gracefulness of the poem might have been deliberately contrasted with the brutality and harshness of industry to emphasise this ruthlessness. This compares with the coherence of The River’s Story, which is also juxtaposed in the same way.
In conclusion, I think the poems, although they both take the same theme, appear to have different objectives. The River’s Story makes me want to help the river but also makes me feel as though it is too late. However, THE SONG OF THE CITY almost appears to be a persuasive argument, using a large amount of repetition and hyperbole to convince the reader that something can still be done. This makes me want to go out and actively help the city.
I know in one part I said urban in the completely wrong context. I meant "cause harm" not "cause urban".
THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR TAKING YOUR TIME TO READ AND MARK THIS YOU ARE VERY HELPFUL
WJEC GCSE English Literature Unit 1 May 20th Watch
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Last edited by Turbochicken; 04-04-2013 at 17:22.
- 04-04-2013 17:06
- 25-12-2016 12:50
Thats an A*/A approach to thr unseen poem however my advice for timing would be making it shorter as the examiners will consider the short time and wont expect you to write dozens of lines.