Three LITB4 essays, just for fun.

They’re also for half-term homework. But for fun, too.

Complete at least TWO of the following essays by Tuesday 4th November. Click on the title of the poem for a link to the text.

1. ‘Goblin Market depicts the triumph of its protagonists over the capitalist market. It is a paean to consumer power.’ To what extent do you agree with this interpretation of the poem?

2. ‘It is with the male partner that power resides within price relationships, and therefore in society at large.’ To what extent is this the case in D. H. Lawrence’s Last Words to Miriam?

3. ‘Carol Ann Duffy’s use of metaphor in Valentine presents love as a uniquely destructive force.’ How far do you consider this interpretation of the poem to be true?


Poetic Possibilities – LITB4 coursework

Dear Upper Sixth,

I was thinking that if you wanted to make your life a little easier, it would be a sensible and brilliant idea to write about a poem for your Further and Independent Reading coursework, as opposed to Dombey and Son.


A starry-eyed Karl Marx.


Lord Byron, The Destruction of Sennacherib

Robert Burns, To a Mouse

Christina Rossetti, Goblin Market

Philip Larkin, Toads


William Blake, Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience

War Poetry – Anything, really, but I was thinking in particular of WW1 poets and the use of natural metaphors, particularly, in poems such as The Falling Leaves (Margaret Postgate-Cole); Spring Offensive (Wilfred Owen); In Flanders Fields (John McCrae) and Spring in War-Time (Edith Nesbitt).

W. S. Merwin, The Last One

Ted Hughes, The Thought Fox

John Donne, To his Coy Mistress

Feminism/Gender Studies

John Keats – any of the narrative poems: Isabella and the Pot of Basil; The Eve of St. Agnes; Lamia; La Belle Dame sans Merci…

The Wife of Bath marries fashion and practicality in this glamorous equestrian get-up.

Geoffrey Chaucer, The Wife of Bath’s Prologue and Tale

Christopher Marlowe, Hero and Leander

Alexander Pope, The Rape of the Lock

Christina Rossetti, Goblin Market, Cousin Kate

Margaret Atwood, Murder in the Dark

Aesthetics and Value

Anything by any of the Poet Laureates – Ted Hughes, Andrew Motion, Carol Ann Duffy…

Seamus Heaney, Death of a Naturalist

Dylan Thomas, Do not Go Gentle Into That Good Night

Matthew Arnold, Dover Beach

Elizabeth Barratt-Browning, How do I Love Thee?

John Milton, Lycidas (This was referred to by Mark Pattison as ‘the high watermark of English poesy’. It also doubles up as a good intro. to the pastoral genre.)

Benjamin Zephaniah, Dis Poetry

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Kubla Khan (which he wrote in his sleep! (Sort of.) Coleridge himself regarded the poem as more of a ‘psychological curiosity’ than anything of any particular ‘poetic merit.’)

John Keats, Ode on a Grecian Urn (Keats regarded ‘negative capability’ as the ‘hallmark’ of ‘true’ literature – a concept explored in this ode.)

I know he might not look particularly inspired, but he was. Promise.

Wider Reading

The following two books are brilliant introductions to poesy, what it is, and how it works, etc.:

Ruth Padel, 52 Ways of Looking at a Poem (ISBN 0-099-42915-2)

Stephen Fry, The Ode Less Travelled (ISBN 978-0-09-950934-9)

And if you’re struggling with the lit. crit. thing, this website is particularly helpful:

How terribly exciting for you.

Ms North

Explore Keats’ use of metaphor in ‘To Autumn’.


Here is the essay starter for the essay on ‘To Autumn’. This is due in on Monday 10th October.

Explore Keats’ use of metaphor in ‘To Autumn’.

In his biography of Keats, Andrew Motion considers some of the ways in which the poem explores Autumn’s peculiar quality of facilitating both ‘fulfilment and finality.’[1] It is the season of harvest, the culmination of the agricultural year, the conclusion of the efforts and labour of preceding months and, in this sense, its harvest fulfils the promises of Spring and Summer. Yet in its conclusiveness, it is also an ending, a loss, a death. Its tension is ‘sublime’  in that it is bittersweet: its glory is also its death. Its splendour is in its ceasing to have such. In this respect, it ‘balances forces of life and death’[2] and the former is made all the more beautiful and poignant as a result of its juxtaposition with the latter.

[1] Motion, Andrew: Keats, p. 457.

[2] Ibid. p. 460.