“Look, I’m telling you, I started at ‘A’ and went right through to ‘Z’, and I’m stuffed if I can find it.”

January nears: and that means A-level exams. It struck me that I haven’t posted on the ways that this site might help you prepare for your exams.

One of the nice features of a blog like this is the category cloud that you’ll find in the column to the left of this posting (just scroll down). In the exam– especially those of you sitting the AQA AS exam– you will be asked questions or given texts that ask you to link that text (be it a poem, play, fiction or non-fiction) to your wider reading. So it’s always a good plan to have an idea of those poems that have common themes. The category cloud (and the Themes, Issues and Events box beneath) allows you to find poems and posts that I have linked by category.

For example: say you want to link war poems which prominently feature nature and natural imagery. Go down to the Category Cloud and you’ll find a category called ‘Pastoral/Natural Themes’. Click on this and it will bring up a number of posts and poems that feature this theme: ‘Break of Day in the Trenches’, ‘War Horse-Review’, ‘On Receiving News of the War’, ‘To His Love’, ‘As the Team’s Head Brass’, ‘Rain’… and so on. You can use this list to analyse just what kind of natural imagery is found in the poems: the similarities and difference found in Thomas’ ‘As the Team’s Head Brass’, say, and Hardy’s ‘In Time of the Breaking of Nations’. The list isn’t exhaustive, of course (I’ve only got as far as Rosenberg so far) and you shouldn’t rely on my categorisation alone! But this may be useful for you to make simple mind maps about the relationships between poems.

You can also do the same when reading individual poems: zip up to the top and you’ll find the categories each poem is failed under just underneath the post title. Click on a category and it’ll bring up all the other posts linked to that theme (be careful when you choose a large category like Pastoral / Natural Themes– there may be more than one page).

If you’re feeling a little shaky about historical context, check out the category, ‘History’: it’ll bring up a number of posts, some of which may be useful to you. There are, among other subjects, posts that link to articles about about life in the infantry, zeppellins, popular culture and so on. Even if you can’t find a post about your concern, there may be links to other sites that will help you. Give it a try.

Finally, if you’re puzzling about a reading or a revision issue, you might click on ‘Ask Mr. Griffiths’ at the top of the blog. I can’t guarantee that I can help you– and I’m afraid I’ll never do your work for you– but if I can point you in the right direction, I will.

Good luck!

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