English poetry sample answers

Leaving Cert & Junior Cert exam Q&A Subjects Leaving Cert English English poetry sample answers

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    • #11954

      Does anyone have sample answers on Yeats, Frost, Dickinson or Hopkins…really stuck!!!

      Any help would be really appreciated!!

    • #67083
      Jon Ryan

      Hi Raf,

      I have sample answers for these and all other poets, and all sections of the Leaving Cert English course. Below is a sample:

      In your opinion, is Kavanagh successful in achieving his desire to transform the ordinary world into something extraordinary?

      Support your answer with suitable reference to the poems on your course.

      Patrick Kavanagh was concerned with transforming the ordinary world into something extraordinary, which is achieved constantly in his poetry, as he finds unique and diverse ways to look upon the ordinary worlds he inhabits, which vary from viewing it from a childish perspective to a religious viewpoint, seen in such poems as EPIC, SHANCODUFF, ADVENT, LINES WRITTEN ON A SEAT ON THE GRAND CANAL DUBLIN, A CHRISTMAS CHILDHOOD, CANAL BANK WALK, INISKEEN ROAD and RAGLAN ROAD.

      Kavanagh’s life began in rural Ireland, a simple world with little wonder – the norm was a poor physical landscape, with the most pressing matter concerning who owned its various parts. However Kavanagh transforms this meager world into one that can be looked upon with affection and some pride, with an ironic affection for the local milieu, instead focusing on how the world is of worth, rather than only viewing its various defects.

      This is seen in EPIC. Despite the admittance that the pressing issues of his rural surroundings are the likes of ‘who owned/ That half a rood of rock’ Kavanagh is not dismissive or rejecting of his world. Rather he is proud of his local milieu and declares that ‘I have lived in important place, times/ When great events were decided’, realizing that Homer made his epics from such simple matters of his world, that ‘Gods make their own importance’ and hence that his world is of some importance. More of the same is seen in SHANCODUFF. Kavanagh here reveals the extremely poor state of the land of rural Ireland. He admits that this cannot be repaired, due to the incorrect aspect – his hills do not face or receive enough sunlight as they face north and thus Kavanagh admits ‘My black hills have never seen the sun rising’. However this does not deter Kavanagh’s affection of them, and rather than worry about their limited potential, he defiantly calls them ‘my Alps’.’ The poor physical landscape of Kavanagh’s world is focused on elsewhere, in ADVENT, introduced with the mention of ‘a black slanting Ulster hill’. Kavanagh lists various elements of this landscape, with their various defects, but for Kavanagh they are of worth. The ‘dreeping hedges’ are not to be neglected for their lack of growth, but rather are notable for their ‘heart-breaking strangeness’. Even the ‘black slanting Ulster hill’ is not remembered for the lack of sunlight it receives, but rather its ‘spirit-shocking/ Wonder’.

      The rural world inhabited by Kavanagh was one in which religion played a heightened role in life, and religion helps Kavanagh transform the ordinary in his poetry also. As mentioned, Kavanagh’s rural Ireland was a depressing world, with its physical landscape and various issues limited, but Kavanagh manages to see hope for those living in this world, through a religious viewpoint.

      In ADVENT there is the suggestion that ‘penance’ will recreate and retrieve ‘the newness that was in every stale thing’ for the individuals of rural Ireland. Kavanagh reveals that if we survive only on ‘the dry black bread and the sugarless tea’ then the world will not appear so monotonous, for ‘after Christmas we’ll have no need to go searching/ For the difference that sets an old phrase burning -/ We’ll hear it in the whispered argument of a churning’. Elsewhere, in A CHRISTMAS CHILDHOOD, it is suggested that religion can achieve the same effect, providing some break from the monotony of rural Irish life – here the nativity here creates wonder for the boy-Kavanagh with such wondrous scenes as when his mother ‘Made the music of milking;/ The light of her stable-lamp was a star/ And the frost of Bethlehem made it twinkle.’ Kavanagh makes a direct link with the comment that ‘Mass-going feet/ Crunched the wafer-ice on the pot-holes,/ Somebody wistfully the bellows wheel’, a relatively ordinary incident which is described in terms of affection. Throughout his life Kavanagh does not forget religion’s power of transformation – even in CANAL BANK WALK, in urban settings, it is suggested once more that religion can provide a challenge to the repetitive nature of life. The poem alludes to baptism and Kavanagh believes that the waters of the canal provide him with a rebirth so that he can ‘Grow with nature again as before I grew’. He declares they are ‘Pouring redemption for me’ and asks the world of the canal to ‘enrapture me, encapture me in a web/ Of fabulous grass and eternal voices by a beech,/ Feed the gaping need of my senses, give me ad lib’. It is suggested that this is necessary for the soul, as it ‘needs to be honoured with a new dress woven/ From green and blue things and arguments that cannot be proven.’

      Email me at ryjolc@gmail.com for the rest of this answer, and other notes/ answers.





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