How would you approach unseen poetry?

Though it certainly can seem daunting at first, unseen poetry can be a great way of earning marks during your exam. Reading the poem twice is an excellent way to start, but do not worry if you do not understand the poem. Then annotate the poem. Look for features such as assonance and alliteration and play attention to the lexis used. Imagery is often a key part of a poem, so look out for features such as personification and similes. Structure should definitely not be overlooked in your exam answer; consider the size of the stanza and the number of stanzas. Identify whether or not there is a rhyme scheme. If there is not a rhyme scheme, think about why there is not a rhyme scheme. If there is a rhyme scheme then focus on how regular it is. If the rhyme scheme breaks down, focus on the tone and imagery of the poem in that particular line as this may explain why the rhyme scheme has broken down. After you have finished annotating the poem, select a variety of features to write about, making sure you include evidence and explain the effects of the features.

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