The Nightingale
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I'm two weeks away from my A2 English exam which I need to get an A in (and am on target to do so.) However, I'm on the syllabus LITA3, where you have to compare four unseen extracts. My major problem here is that poetry has always been my weakest area and if two hard poems come up I might be doomed! Don't get me wrong - I can write a thoughtful and analytical essay on poetry when there are no time constraints, but with the time constraints I feel I'm going to struggle.

How would you advise I improve my poetry analysing skills? I'm good with language, imagery, motifs etc. but where I struggle is with a poem's form - for example, working out the meter - for some it seems easy, but I struggle to hear it unless I have time to go over the poem in detail and highlight every little bit. I'm currently doing past papers and I see comments such as 'the poem contains iambic pentameter, interrupted by occasional trimeter which has x effect' in exam reports. Problem is, whilst I know what both of those are, I'm not sure I could pick up on subtle changes like that in the time constraints given, as well as fulfilling all the other assessment objectives adequately. How much do they expect an A-Level candidate to know about poetic metre, stress, rhyme schemes etc.
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missfrivolous
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Well you do have to mention metre and structure when analyzing a poem, even if in passing. Try to relate how structure, form and possible rhyme and metre relate to the themes of the poem; for example a certain rhyme scheme may be reminiscent of a typical nursery rhyme and the poem in question happens to place a lot of emphasis on the theme of childhood - there's a clear link. Personally, I'm not good at all at discussing structure and form, whether in prose or in poetry but particularly poetry. I know what I'm SUPPOSED to be writing about, yet it's difficult to get myself fitting it all in. I think metre is one those things that you have to fit in somehow, even in a trivial manner, regardless of whether you find any relevance.
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