Online Lessons for Unseen

By Mrs Laura Ng
Core Curriculum
Pupils are to:
- Be introduced to and be equipped with a set of literary skills / devices with which they can study poetry more effectively.
- Be introduced to, and learn about the different types of poems and poetic structures.
- Be able to quickly grasp the overall meaning of a poem (i.e the themes, main ideas and issues fore-grounded in the poem).
Curriculum of Connections
Pupils are to:
- Be able to make inferences about information not explicitly stated in the text e.g. setting, poet’s intention / purpose, mood, feeling, attitude and style.
- Be able to understand how a poet’s social background and life experiences have a concrete effect on poetic output

Curriculum of Identity
Pupils are to:
- Understand and experience the appeal that poetry has to one’s emotional consciousness.
- Be able to analyze poetry, giving a sensitive and cogent personal response to a poem.
- Be able to enjoy poems of a greater variety and at a deeper level through discussion of readings and sharing of views.
- Demonstrate their ability to give a personal response to a poem, through explaining their own critical understanding of it, and detailing how it appeals to their emotions and senses.

Curriculum of Practice
Pupils are to:
- Be able to practice detailed analysis of a poem’s meaning: message, mood and attitude.
- Be able to deal with literary techniques, such as diction, imagery, sound devices, rhyme, rhythm and repetition.
- Be introduced to and taught creative writing as extension to lessons on poetry.


View the following two PowerPoints for an introduction to common poetic technique and devices.

Study the following sets of notes that will give you a good background in the critical analysis of poetry.
The following worksheets are taken from the Gifted Education Branch, Ministry of Education.

Read the essay "How to Read a Poem" at Also read the two poems "The Red Wheelbarrow", by William Carlos Williams, and "Diving into the Wreck", by Adrienne Rich, and their accompanying commentaries.

Do independent reading from the Internet to understand more about the critical reading and analysis of poetry.


Access the "Discussion" tab on the top of this page. All students are expected to participate actively and constructively in the discussion. Every student is to post at least three times. Posts must be of reasonable length. Content must be meaningful and thoughtful. Flippant, irrelevant or simplistic posts will count against you.


Read the two poems that follow and answer the questions on them.
Poems and questions taken from "Unseen Poetry and Prose For the GCE 'O' Level Exam (Second Edition)" by Suzanne Choo

D. H. Lawrence

Softly, in the dusk, a woman is singing to me;
Taking me back down the vista of years, till I see
A child sitting under the piano, in the boom of the tingling strings
And pressing the small, poised feet of a mother who smiles as she sings.
In spite of myself, the insidious mastery of song
Betrays me back, till the heart of me weeps to belong
To the old Sunday evenings at home, with winter outside
And hymns in the cosy parlour, the tinkling piano our guide.
So now it is vain for the singer to burst into clamour
With the great black piano appassionato. The glamour
Of childish days is upon me, my manhood is cast
Down in the flood of remembrance, I weep like a child for the past

1. Describe the speakers childhood. Support your points with evidence.
2. What is the mood of the poem? How do sound devices and imagery convey mood across to the reader?
3. Why does the speaker term his childhood one of 'glamour'? How are the last two lines of the poem ironic? What is the speaker's intention in saying this?
4. Why do you think this poem is entitled "Piano"? Is the piano symbolic of something? Give reasons to support your points?
5. Comment on the word 'betrays' (line 6). What does the word imply about the speaker's attitude? Which other words support your answer and why?

The Victims
Sharon Olds

When Mother divorced you, we were glad. She took it and
took it in silence, all those years and then
kicked you out, suddenly, and her
kids loved it. Then you were fired, and we
grinned inside, the way people grinned when
Nixon's helicopter lifted off the South
Lawn for the last time. We were tickled
to think of your office taken away,
your secretaries taken away,
your lunches with three double bourbons,
your pencils, your reams of paper. Would they take your
suits back, too, those dark
carcasses hung in your closet, and the black
noses of your shoes with their large pores?
She had taught us to take it, to hate you and take it
until we pricked with her for your
annihilation, Father. Now I
pass the bums in doorways, the white
slugs of their bodies gleaming through slits in their
suits of compressed silt, the stained
flippers of their hands, the underwater
fire of their eyes, ships gone down with the
lanterns lit, and I wonder who took it and
took it from them in silence until they had
given it all away and had nothing
left but this.

1. What is the attitude of the children toward their father in the beginning of the poem? When does it begin to change and why?
2. Analyse the imagery used to describe the 'bums' in the final lines of the poem. What is the implied meaning of this description? How does the image contribute to the mood of the poem?
3. Who are the victims in the poem? Give reasons for your answer.
4. What is your impression of the father in the poem? Do you blame him or sympathise with him? Give reasons for your answer.
5. Comment on the style of narration in the poem. How effective is it? What makes the last line stand out and what is the purpose of this?
6. Why does the speaker describe her father's suits as "dark carcasses" (line 13)? What is the implied meaning of this? Pick out other interesting choices of wrods in the poem and comment on their implied meaning.


The following two PowerPoint slides are on the above poems. Please go through these presentations and see how your analysis of these poems compares with what has ben written. Below is also a reading of "Piano". Listen to it to help broaden your understanding of the poet's tone and meaning.


Read the poem below carefully and answer the questions that follow it.

Casualty - Mental Ward
Vernon Scannell

Something has gone wrong inside my head.
The sappers have left mines and wire behind,
I hold long conversations with the dead.

I do not always know what has been said;
The rhythms, not the words, stay in my mind;
Something has gone wrong inside my head.

Not just the sky but grass and trees are red,
The flares and tracers---or I’m colour-blind;
I hold long conversations with the dead.

Their presence comforts and sustains like bread;
When they don’t come its hard to be resigned;
Something has gone wrong inside my head.

They know about the snipers that I dread
And how the world is booby- trapped and mined;
I hold long conversation with the dead;

As all eyes close, they gather round my bed
And whisper consolation. When I find
Something has gone wrong inside my head
I hold long conversations with the dead.

a) What evidence is there in the poem to suggest that the speaker may be mentally unsound? Support your answer with close reference to literary devices.
b) What is the thematic message of this poem? Justify your response with close reference to the poem.
[Total 25 Marks]


Submit your "Reflections" in a 400-word piece of continuous prose. Your reflections should cover the following points.

1. What new understanding about poetry have you gleaned from this lesson?
2. How does poetry affect you emotionally or spiritually? Are you able to appreciate the role it plays in emotional or spiritual expression?
3. In your opinion, what are the advantages that an online lesson, such as this one, has over a typical classroom lesson? What are its disadvantages?
4. Do you prefer online learning or classroom learning? Why?