AS Level Paper 3: Poetry

Poems on Relationships I

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Follower by Seamus Heaney

Elegy for My father’s Father by James K.Baxter

Praise Song for My Mother

Language and Form Questions

1.How is the title significant to the theme of a parent-child  in each of these poems?

2. What special lexicon is employed by both Heaney and Nichols while they create the personas of a father and a mother respectively?

3. How important is the refrain ‘ You were’ at the beginning of each stanza in Praise Song for My Mother?

4. How do you interpret the concluding verbs of each stanza in Praise Song for My Mother?

5. Identify the relationship between the four metaphors used by the poet in relation to the ‘praise’ that she writes of her mother.

6. How does the poet of Follower develop a sense of awe for his father using specialized choice of words?

7. The second stanza of Follower begins ‘ An expert.’ Does this bring an abruptness in the tone ?

8.Evaluate the effect of the enjambment in lines 8-9 and  22-23.

Structure and Form Questions

1.How do the form and structure of the aforementioned poems contribute towards the theme of relationship between young and old?

2. What is effect of the isolated occurrence of the last line in Praise Song for My Mother?


About Ms. N's Rhyme and Reason

Hi, In the beginning was the word. Hence begins the history of humankind, in all domains of evolution. The thriving of civilizations has depended on how articulate were their teachers- the ones who descended with the learned art to their offspring generations. This phenomenon of transmitting of genetic code of learning has been at the heart of my inspiration to teach. This art somehow has transformed into a mantra for me, and it has never ceased to amaze me. Although to become a perfect teacher one might take a lifetime, but if one tries to be perfect, one negates the reason to experiment and fail. Hence, I may have faltered in some of my approaches, but my aspiration has been to try rectifying the short-coming, to connect again with the subject-matter and my pupils, to demystify the intended outcome, to enthuse the learners again, and to keep the cycle going.
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6 Responses to AS Level Paper 3: Poetry

  1. Maryam Fatima says:

    the titles in these poems are signifacant to the theme of parent child relationship bceause in “Praise song for my mother” the title depicts that the child, that is the poet, is already in awe of her mother. and that is why she is writing a “praise song”. over here song brings into mind joyful things and beautiful events, because mostly songs are happy and praise songs “praise” the person for which the song is written for.
    in “elegy for my father’s father” the title is important due to the fact that it emphasizes on the child’s realtionship with his grandfather. we can see that the distamce is created by calling grandfather as father’s father. elegy is a respectful tribute to someone who has passed away, the grandfather was respected but, he did start any relationships that he could be proud of. the title also brings about a sense of bitterness and a grim mood is created. there is also a sense of foreboding for the reader.


  2. Anusheh Tauseef says:

    ANS 1:The title ‘praise song for my mother’ reveals that the poet is already in awe,it is a personal feeling that she possess for her mother.Her mother is the garden of hope for her and the parent child relationship is strongly signified here which is the main reason the author has written a praise song describing her mother and that she meant the world to her.All the mothers qualities are stated addressing to the fact that her mother was extremely beloved for her
    ‘Elegy for my father’s father’ strengthens the parent child relationship since elegy is a tribute given to a person who has passed away and James has written one for his father which is strongly portraying the love and affection he had for his father and the bond of the relationship is strongly tied.


  3. Hafsa K says:

    1. ‘Elegy for my Father’s Father’ is an elegy for the poet’s grandfather. However, the poet uses ‘Father’s Father’ instead of ‘Grandfather’. This gives a sense of detachment and and imposed relation, which is further evident in the poem.
    ‘Praise song for My Mother’, creates a very intimate feeling and suggests that the poet shared a deep relationship with her mother.
    Finally, ‘Follower’ explores the theme of role reversal and idolatry. Firstly it is the son who’s following his father around, however, later, its his father who’s the ‘follower’

    2. While ‘Heaney’ uses farm and nautical imagery and metaphors to describe his father and present his admiration towards him, Nicholas uses the nature imagery to describe her feeling towards her mother. Heaney presents his father as an all-knowing and a precise and father, by the use of words like, ‘globed’, ‘like a full sail strung’, ‘narrowed and angled’, ‘mapping the furrow exactly’. The reader can feel his devotion and idol admiration towards his father, by the words, which can be summed up in the monosyllabic ‘an Expert’. Nicholas compares her mother with the very basic of nature and the necessities for the very existence of human beings, ‘water’, ‘moon’s eye’, ‘sunrise’ and then finally using ‘food metaphors’ to describe her. This shows the importance her mother has in her life. She needs her mother for her very existence.

    3. ‘Were’ is a ‘be’ verb. It defines her mother’s existence and her life. It also defines the mother’s value in the poet’s life.

    4. The verbs in all four stanzas, ‘fathoming’, ‘mantling’, ‘streaming’, ‘replenishing’ end with an ‘-ing’. This implies a continuous ongoing cycle which continues to go on and on. Also, all four of them have connotations and meanings of ‘enveloping’, which suggests that Nicholas’s mother’s love and care is so complete and so much the she is totally enveloped and surrounded by it.
    5. The four metaphors are not only very basic and define the existence of all creations, but also represent the cycle of life. Water can be referred to as the amniotic sac by which a growing fetus is surrounded with.

    6. Words like ‘globed like a full sail strung’ create an image of a well-seasoned, all-knowing father. ‘Narrowed and angled’, ‘exactly’, ‘stiffen..arm’, with a single pluck’ not only describes the physical strength and manly power and precision that Heaney’s father possessed, but it also creates an atmosphere of amazement, wonder, and awe.

    7. Instead of bringing abruptness in the tone, ‘an expert’ rather, defines his father. It’s a monosyllabic remark with an air of finality. It is as if it’s a fact and there’s no argument about it. This remark not only sums up the first stanza, but is further explained in the later stanzas.

    8. The enjambment in lines 8-9 connects the idea that his father is not only an expert at farm-work, but handling animals as well. It suggests that his father is an expert at many many things and that he is quite a ‘complete’ man. Enjambment in line 22-23, create an abrupt and affect and forces the reader to stop and think. It’s the poet’s transition from past to present.

    Structure and form questions:

    1. ‘Elegy for my Father’s Father’ is written in third person with no rhyme scheme and has only one stanza.


  4. Maaz H says:

    This is all that I could save during the test today, not much – however I will complete all these answers in due time.

    1.How is the title significant to the theme of a parent-child  in each of these poems?
    “Follower” by Seamus Heaney refers to a child who is in awe of his father, and is following him like a devotee, noticing and trying to mimic all his actions and attributes. It also refers to a father being a guide and helping his child in the various fields and aspects of life.

    “Elegy for my Fathers Father” creates a long melancholic feel to the song. Elegy is praise written for those who have died. However “Fathers Fathers” creates a forced distanced relationship between the grandfather and grandson and it seems to be blaming the father for not being a catalyst in not binding the two relationships together.
    “Praise Song” for “my mother” refers to a tribute not generalized for any specific mother rather for “my” i.e specifically the poet mother. It is an African traditional song written in praise for the poets particular mother.
    2) Heaneys “Follower” is full of descriptive farm and nautical imagery like “globed”, “full – sail strung”, “steel pointed sock” giving an avid description of his fathers physical strength and his expertise. “Globed” creates a long vowel sound which highlights a child being awed by the fathers phyisical steength. “Clicking tongue” gives the impression of the fathers mastery over his animals where as “An expert” – A monosyllablic remark convinces the reader of how awed a child is by his father. “eye, narrowed and angled” denotes the child noticing everything that father is doing and how accomplished he is not only in his farm but also in the field of life.
    Nichols used four metaphors – “water”. “moon” , ” sunrise” and food. All that are basic neccasties of life to create a persona of her mother. “Water” is soothing and nourishing, its brings life whereever it excists. “Moons eye” is light when everything is dark. It is hope in darkness. Its “pull” reflects the mothers affectionate pull towards her child. “Sunrise” is hope after a cold bleak night. It gives all the warmth needed to survive against the harsh and cold life.
    The third description of each last line of each stanza – “fathoming”, “mantling”, “streaming” highlights another quality of the mother. She is the one who envelops, secures and streams out soft gentle light which calms and sooths, and eventually lets go to “your wide futures” knowing that she has given all the necessities that she can to ensure that her child can live, thrive and be successful in this world.
    “Fishes red gill” denote the freshness assossiated with her mother and the food which is a basic neccassity of life.The repetition of “repinishing” makes the reader understand how the mother helps complete and


  5. Language and Form Questions
    1. “Follower” implies a parent-child relationship in which there is an element of extreme reverence for the parent (when we take it for granted that the follower is the child). However, if we do a bit of background reading we find that the title is full of irony indeed because Heaney had let down his father by not coming up to his expectations and becoming a writer instead of a farmer as his father wished. nonetheless the title suggests a strong reltionship, brimming with affection.
    “EFMFF” suggests a very cold relationship, as though distance is created between the speaker and his grandfather, whom he only refers to as his father’s father. A sense of detachment can be felt which does not imply a fruitful relationship with the grandfather.
    “PSFMM” implies a strong relationship between the speaker and her mother, almost a sense of saintly reverrence and some sort of mesmerization can be felt, as though the speaker has placed her mother to a higher status than that of just earthly existance.

    2. Heaney employs farm and nautical lexicon to create a persona for his father, using the memories he has of him, penning them down to detailed images. On the other hand, Nichols’ word choice pertains more to nature and the environment around her, as she vividly describes the importance her mother held in her life, as though she is still in the world around her.

    3. “You were” implies that either the speaker’s mother is no longer alive anymore- in that respect, we see Nichols reliving the memories her mother gave to her when she was a child. It can also imply the passing away of time, how the speaker has grown up, so that her mother encourages her to stand on her own feet, to explore the world, and not cling to her mother.

    4. The concluding words in every stanza give a sense of continuity, allowing the reader to experience the stream of thoughts as the speaker pens them down. The use of these verbs is quite opposite to the use of “you were” at the start of every line, it allows the reader to feel the way the speaker transits between then and now, between past and present as she relives the memories of her mother.

    5. sunrise, fishes red gill, flame tree’s spread, crab’s leg- they are all the hues of red

    6. The speaker of “Follower” uses his words to develop a sense of awe, which is transformed almost to mesmerization as the poem progresses.
    “My father” – show of affection, possessiveness, ownership on the part of the speaker
    “clicking tongue”- the commandership, strong leadership of the father which entails synchronisation with his working team on the farm.
    An expert. – dexterous and highly skillful, not a doubt about it/ can be no argument
    Narrowed and angled….exactly- the height of precision and astuteness as the speaker observes him doing his work

    7. I wouldnt say abruptness. Its more like a final, clear, sound judgement by the child. there can be no arguement about it. It is the child’s final verdict for his father. sort of defines the last stanza, summarising it, and the prvides the basis for its exemplification in the second stanza

    8. Enjambent of active verbs in the lines 8-9 imply the continuity of the father as he works with his sweating team and again emphasizes on the strong leadership of the man
    In lines 22-23 it sort of brings everything back to the present and emphasizes on the shift of roles as his father becomes a “nuisance”, again reinforcing the cycle of life.

    Structure and Form Questions
    1. In “follower”, the structure of the poem is organized into six quatrains with a rhythmic effect which seems to suggest the development of an organized mind as the child observes his father and learns from him.
    In “Elegy” the poem is a single stretch of 38 lines which gives it a crowded effect. It seems as it these lines only function to widen the gap between the speaker and his grandfather, the gap/distance which was depicted in the title. It suggests that with every passing line, the young draws away from the old.
    In Praise Song, the free verse style and lack of punctuation suggest that the mother’s love is ongoing and continuous, similar to a child evolving.

    2. The isolated occurrence of the last line serves to show us that even after the time the mother gave to her child, she feels she has one more duty, to advise, as she has made her independent enough to work on her own now, and explore her “wide futures”


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