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I will be discussing five of them all written post 1900. These poems are 'An advancement of learning' and 'Churning day' by Seamus Heaney, 'My Grandmother' written by Elizabeth Jennings, 'The road not taken' by Robert Frost and Mirror by Sylvia Plath.

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Introduction

GCSE English coursework Poetry Discuss some of the poems you have studied from the anthology 'best words'. Two must be by the same poet and you should look for comparisons within and between poems. You may wish to consider the subject matter and any underlying themes and/or how language contributes to effect The 'best words' anthology includes sixteen poems written before 1900 and 16 poems written after 1900. In this essay I will be discussing five of them all written post 1900. These poems are 'An advancement of learning' and 'Churning day' by Seamus Heaney, 'My Grandmother' written by Elizabeth Jennings, 'The road not taken' by Robert Frost and Mirror by Sylvia Plath. All the poems appear to have underlying themes and an interesting and clever use of language. The first poem is 'An Advancement Of Learning' by Heaney. Heaney's poems handled themes of love, death, generation and renewal. They have a strong dramatic sense. Many of his early poems deal with experiences of childhood and how apparently trivial moments can change entirely the way we look at the world. In this poem he confronts a rat. The poem starts with "I took the embankment path (As always deferring the bridge)" childhood ingenuousness and curiosity come into play here. The embankment path is more exciting than the bride so that is the way he chooses. "The river nosed past, pliable, oil-skinned, wearing a transfer of gables and sky" the river is personified as a living creature and, the enjambment between "wearing" and "a transfer" makes the poem flow into the next verse, reminiscent of the river. ...read more.

Middle

In the second verse the remorse and guilt Jennings felt are explored, or still may feel about the way she once refused her Grandmother. "And I remember how I once refused to go out with her, since I was afraid." Perhaps she refused because she didn't want to be polished and perfected like the antiques. "It was perhaps a wish not to be used like antique objects" but to the Grandmother the antiques have great importance. They replace the human companionship and love in her life. She takes great pride in them and Jennings wish not to be used like them. Though the Grandmother can see her reflection in her antiques, she is denied to see them in her Grandaughter, perhaps something she expected. Beneath the layers of polish lay her feelings "Though she never said that she was hurt, I still could feel the guilt of that refusal, guessing how she felt." She could empathise with her Grandmother but could not do anything about it. It is hard to forge personal relationships and the silence gnawed away at her conscience. Jennings realizes this when the grandmother becomes "too frail to keep a shop". There seems to be a reference to death when "all her best things (were put) in one long, narrow room." It may be a metaphor for a coffin, a reference to death. "The place smelt old, of things too long kept shut" perhaps like her heart. ...read more.

Conclusion

What this is is uncertain. Conceivably it may be her objective self. The second verse seems reminiscent of the youth Narcissus, who was obsessed with his own image. Just like "she", he stared into a lake, and died as a result. Plath was obsessed with her own image, critical of whom she was and perhaps caused her mental breakdown. Unlike the mirror, which reflects things back precise and exact, the lake conceals depth, and doubt. There is a reference to the candles and the moon in that they are liars, which gives the idea that she is not fond of it. "Then she turns to those liars, the candles or the moon". It maybe darkness covering what she really is. Candles and the moon create dim light. To survive in society we must sometimes dim our consciousness to fit in and not always follow our personal beliefs. Plath did not do this so she was treated badly and shunned by many. We are told that the woman rewards the lake "with tears and an agitation of hands," As if the lake gets pleasure from other peoples suffering. It is evidence of the depression in which she lives. She believes that "in me has drowned a young girl, and in me an old woman". She doesn't want to be old because it makes her ugly, but is it is upon her and it "rises to her day after day" swallowing her up "like a terrible fish." Lauren Milton February 1st 2003 Can No. 8272 Centre No. 55375 1 ...read more.

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