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Getting to grips with the unseen poem . LO: Learn to think about the meaning and interpretation of poems . S tarter. Make notes on the following: What do you think the poem means? What it makes you think about? What the poet wants you to think about How it makes you feel. .

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getting to grips with the unseen poem

Getting to grips with the unseen poem

LO: Learn to think about the meaning and interpretation of poems

s tarter
  • Make notes on the following:
  • What do you think the poem means?
  • What it makes you think about?
  • What the poet wants you to think about
  • How it makes you feel.

As Bad as a Mile

Watching the shield core

Striking the basket, skidding across the floor,

Shows less and less of luck, and more and more

Of failure spreading back up the arm

Earlier and earlier, the unraised hand calm,

The apple unbitten in the palm.


Interpret: work out the meaning or significance of a text.

  • Don’t worry if you don’t understand a poem on the first reading; asking questions and sharing ideas is an important part of interpretation.
  • Discuss with your partner, your first impression of As Bad as a Mile. Make notes.
  • Why would anyone want to write about throwing an apple away?
  • The speaker keeps just missing. If a footballer shoots and hits the post, you would say he was unlucky. What if he hit the post again and again? Is there a word you would use instead of unlucky?
  • Shied - shy. As in a coconut shy.(throwing wooden balls at coconuts to win prizes). Why would he use this term?
  • What might the thinker have been thinking before he threw the apple?
  • Write one paragraph explaining what Larkin is trying to say in the poem and compare your answer with your partners.
  • ‘As bad as a Mile’ was originally published with the title ‘As Good as a Mile’. How do you think that this changes the meaning of the poem?
asking your own questions
Asking your own questions
  • Learning to ask questions is a key part of understanding poetry. With practice you will build on the ability to ask questions to develop ideas. You are now going to look at another poem, remember to think about:
    • The title of the poem
    • What the poem is about
    • What words the poet has chosen
    • How the poem is organised
    • The tone, mood and pace of the poem
    • The intentions of the poet.

Make notes as we read it.

  • Write down five questions that you think would help someone else understand the main ideas in ‘Remembering St. Mary’s Churchyard’; for example, ‘Who is speaking in the poem?’ on your whiteboards. Now swap questions and answer your partners.
  • Now, see if you can agree on the poet’s intentions in writing the poem. Are there any particular ideas he wants us to think about?
  • Write a couple of sentences that describe the speaker and his friend’s behaviour and attitude towards the girl, and how the poet shows their immaturity.

Backing Up Your IdeasLO: To be able to select relevant quotations to support answers.AO1: Respond to texts critically and imaginatively; select and evaluate relevant textual detail to support interpretation. AO2: Explain how language, structure and form contribute to writer’s presentation of ideas, themes and settings


Using PEE, explain why ‘A Woman’s work’ uses lots of questions in the early stages of the poem, but lots of statements at the end. What does this show about her?

developing an interpretation
Developing an Interpretation
  • What is the poem ‘The Locker’ about?
  • Who do you think is speaking in the poem? Pay particular attention to the following details:
    • ‘she knew him by this ordinariness’
    • ‘The shock of the nude’
    • ‘Kept his ring on too’
    • ‘Tiredness.../ Damping down the thrill of touch’.
    • ‘She stands inside someone she thought she knew’
    • ‘Mother must never know’
    • ‘She wonders what they hide, like her’

3. Write a short account of the development of the woman’s feelings in the poem that you will present to the class. Try to justify your ideas, for example

At the start of the poem, the woman feels upset because the drive reminds her of the funeral procession as she is probably travelling slowly in a traffic jam, and is following a similar route. When she gets near to the works she thinks...

chapter one plenary
Chapter One Plenary
  • Yon you would like to ask the authave looked at four poems; ‘As Bad as a Mile’, ‘Remembering St Mary’s Churchyard’, ‘A Woman’s Work’ and ‘The Locker’.
  • Chose the poem you found most interesting and
    • Explain why you enjoyed it
    • Explain what it made you think about and how it made you feel
    • Think of a question you would like to ask the author of the poem (e.g. How is came to be written?)
    • Explain in one paragraph, what you think the meaning of the poem is, using evidence from the poem to support your answer.
    • REMEMBER! You get marks for a ‘personal response’.