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Compare Content in 'Before You Were Mine' and Other Poems

In this worksheet, the student will begin to think about comparing the poem 'Before You Were Mine' to other poems. The activity will allow the student to begin practising forming content-based links between poems.

'Compare Content in 'Before You Were Mine' and Other Poems' worksheet

Key stage:  KS 4

GCSE Subjects:   English Literature

GCSE Boards:   AQA

Curriculum topic:   Poetry

Curriculum subtopic:   Love and Relationships: 'Before You Were Mine'

Difficulty level:  

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

Want to begin to revise your comparative skills between 'Before You Were Mine' and other poems within the Love and Relationships cluster?

 

Thought bubble

 

In this activity, we will be jogging your memory by comparing the content of 'Before You Were Mine' with the poems you think fit best out of the options you get given. 

 

Before we begin, here's a quick list of the key content you could talk about and use to compare with other poems:

Parenthood

Childhood

Sexuality

Femininity

Possessiveness

Guilt

Glamour

 

 

 

You can definitely think of any other themes which you think Duffy uses, as long as you have the evidence to show that it is a recurring topic in the poem.

 

Remember: take your time, as there's no rush, and make sure to jot down any explanations which you find helpful!

Thinking about the theme of motherhood, which one poem from the cluster would you compare 'Before You Were Mine' with?

 

'Love's Philosophy'

'Neutral Tones'

'Mother, Any Distance'

'Climbing my Grandfather'

Thinking about the theme of possessiveness, which one poem from the cluster would you compare 'Before You Were Mine' with?

 

'Eden Rock'

'Love's Philosophy'

'Climbing my Grandfather'

'Porphyria's Lover'

Thinking about the theme of the past, which two poems from the cluster would you compare 'Before You Were Mine' with?​

 

 

There are two right answers.

'Mother, Any Distance'

'Neutral Tones'

'Sonnet 29 - 'I think of thee!''

'Eden Rock'

'Follower'

'The Farmer's Bride'

Thinking about the themes of guilt and regret, which two poems from the cluster would you compare 'Before You Were Mine' with?​

There are two right answers.

'Mother, Any Distance'

'Singh Song!'

'When We Two Parted'

'Letters From Yorkshire'

'Winter Swans'

'Neutral Tones'

Thinking about the themes of sex or sexuality, which two poems from the cluster would you compare 'Before You Were Mine' with?​

 

There are two right answers.

'Sonnet 29 - 'I think of thee!''

'Singh Song!'

'Mother, Any Distance'

'Letters From Yorkshire'

'Eden Rock'

'Neutral Tones'

Link the idea in each poem which you think matches up the best with 'Before You Were Mine'.

 RegretSexualityIndependence
Sonnet 29
Mother Any Distance
Walking Away

Link the ideas in each poem which you think match up the best with 'Before You Were Mine'.

 

HINT: some of these ideas match with MORE THAN ONE poem in the table.

 SexParenthoodSadness
'Singh Song'
'Follower'
'Mother Any Distance'
'When We Two Parted'

Link 'Before You Were Mine' to two other poems in the cluster which show the relationship between a child and parent.

 

 SexParenthoodSadness
'Singh Song'
'Follower'
'Mother Any Distance'
'When We Two Parted'

Pick the two options which you think best showcase how 'Before You Were Mine' and 'Walking Away' could be compared.

 

 

From the first set of options, pick the answer which you think best shows similarity between the two poems.

 

From the second set of options, pick the answer which you think best shows difference between the two poems.

 SexParenthoodSadness
'Singh Song'
'Follower'
'Mother Any Distance'
'When We Two Parted'

Last question! 

 

Tick the four poems that you think are the easiest to compare to 'Before You Were Mine'.

 

Hint: think about if these poems show similar ideas to what Duffy expresses in 'Before You Were Mine' and think everyone can agree that the main idea in the poem is attitudes towards/about parents.

'When We Two Parted'

'Porphyria's Lover'

'The Farmer's Bride'

'Walking Away'

'Climbing My Grandfather'

'Eden Rock'

'Mother, Any Distance'

'Follower'

  • Question 1

Thinking about the theme of motherhood, which one poem from the cluster would you compare 'Before You Were Mine' with?

 

CORRECT ANSWER
'Mother, Any Distance'
EDDIE SAYS
'Mother, Any Distance' is a good poem to compare 'Before You Were Mine' to because both are about motherhood and its complications and impact. You could discuss how ideas of attachment and independence are expressed in either poem. Who is the independent one in each poem - the mother or the child?
  • Question 2

Thinking about the theme of possessiveness, which one poem from the cluster would you compare 'Before You Were Mine' with?

 

CORRECT ANSWER
'Porphyria's Lover'
EDDIE SAYS
You could definitely compare themes of possessiveness in 'Porphyria's Lover' and 'Before You Were Mine', as well as the idea of being trapped in a relationship. While Porphyria's fate seems a little worse than Duffy's mum's, you could talk about the consequences of a possessive relationship, and even go on to discuss how the two relationships differ, particularly with regards to gender and sexuality.
  • Question 3

Thinking about the theme of the past, which two poems from the cluster would you compare 'Before You Were Mine' with?​

 

 

There are two right answers.

CORRECT ANSWER
'Eden Rock'
'Follower'
EDDIE SAYS
It's safe to say that the theme of the past presents itself in both 'Eden Rock' and 'Follower'. Both talk about a child's attitudes towards a parent/parents. Interestingly, 'Before You Were Mine' really highlights the past - before Duffy was in her mother's life, whereas both 'Follower' and 'Eden Rock' are more reminiscent of childhood. Think, also, about the poets' attitudes towards their childhood in each poem - how are these attitudes different or similar?
  • Question 4

Thinking about the themes of guilt and regret, which two poems from the cluster would you compare 'Before You Were Mine' with?​

There are two right answers.

CORRECT ANSWER
'When We Two Parted'
'Neutral Tones'
EDDIE SAYS
You could definitely compare the guilt and regret Duffy feels in 'Before You Were Mine' with either 'Neutral Tones' or 'When We Two Parted'. In a way, 'When We Two Parted' is easier to compare 'Before You Were Mine' to. There is a strong sense of guilt and regret in both poems (in Duffy's poem, the guilt is because of the mother/daughter relationship, and in Byron's, the guilt and regret is explicit in the parting of two lovers). It would be great for you to talk about how guilt is produced in either poem - in Duffy, guilt is produced because Duffy regrets being born and taking her mum away from her independent state. In Byron, guilt is present because the speaker has parted from his lover. There is an interesting relationship between separation and guilt vs. possessiveness and guilt. 'Neutral Tones' is a little trickier. The idea of guilt/regret is more implicit. While the couple is also breaking up, there's a stronger sense of bitterness in the process. You could compare the two poems by suggesting that Duffy and Hardy both hold on to their regretful feelings by carrying them into the future (Duffy, as she "looks back" at her mother's memories, and Hardy as he learns "keen lessons" about love).
  • Question 5

Thinking about the themes of sex or sexuality, which two poems from the cluster would you compare 'Before You Were Mine' with?​

 

There are two right answers.

CORRECT ANSWER
'Sonnet 29 - 'I think of thee!''
'Singh Song!'
EDDIE SAYS
If you choose to compare 'Singh Song' with 'Before You Were Mine', you could link ideas of marriage and conventionality to sexual expression. How does the mother in Duffy's poem compare with the wife of the speaker in 'Singh Song'? How are the two similar/different - how do they express their femininity, and how does the speaker of each poem reflect their situations? In 'Sonnet 29', you could also discuss female sexuality. How do the two poems express this theme? You could also think about who's doing the speaking and how much control the subject (either the mother in 'Before You Were Mine', or the speaker in 'Sonnet 29') has over their own sexuality.
  • Question 6

Link the idea in each poem which you think matches up the best with 'Before You Were Mine'.

CORRECT ANSWER
 RegretSexualityIndependence
Sonnet 29
Mother Any Distance
Walking Away
EDDIE SAYS
Filling out tables like these will allow you to categorise which themes the poems within the cluster share. Think about why and how these ideas/themes match up and what evidence you could pick to support the claim that the poems share the same themes/ideas.
  • Question 7

Link the ideas in each poem which you think match up the best with 'Before You Were Mine'.

 

HINT: some of these ideas match with MORE THAN ONE poem in the table.

CORRECT ANSWER
 SexParenthoodSadness
'Singh Song'
'Follower'
'Mother Any Distance'
'When We Two Parted'
EDDIE SAYS
Is this getting easier? Think about HOW these themes/ideas are represented. How are they presented? How do they differ? What tone/language/devices are used?
  • Question 8

Link 'Before You Were Mine' to two other poems in the cluster which show the relationship between a child and parent.

 

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
'Follower' shows the sad, interchangeable relationship between father and son. 'Mother, Any Distance' shows a son moving away from his mother, into his own house. Both exhibit, in different ways, the relationship between child and parent.
  • Question 9

Pick the two options which you think best showcase how 'Before You Were Mine' and 'Walking Away' could be compared.

 

 

From the first set of options, pick the answer which you think best shows similarity between the two poems.

 

From the second set of options, pick the answer which you think best shows difference between the two poems.

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
How did you do? Evaluating how the poet presents ideas is a crucial part of comparing poetry. Practise your skills of deducing how certain attitudes are presented similarly and differently, and you'll soar in the comparison part of the exam! Both poems are similar in that they explore the parent and child relationship, alongside ideas of separation, independence, love and sadness. But whose perspective is each of the poems from?
  • Question 10

Last question! 

 

Tick the four poems that you think are the easiest to compare to 'Before You Were Mine'.

 

Hint: think about if these poems show similar ideas to what Duffy expresses in 'Before You Were Mine' and think everyone can agree that the main idea in the poem is attitudes towards/about parents.

CORRECT ANSWER
'Walking Away'
'Eden Rock'
'Mother, Any Distance'
'Follower'
EDDIE SAYS
There was a misleading element to this question, 'Climbing My Grandfather' was presented as an option but was wrong. It's important for you to prioritise the poems that SHARE the main idea (parenthood/attitudes towards parents), as this will make your life way easier. So, while you could go with 'Climbing My Grandfather', it is best to note that 'Walking Away', 'Eden Rock', 'Mother, Any Distance' and 'Follower' are content heavy when it comes to the relationship between a child and parent. You don't have to stretch so far to make the comparison. Once you've got the main comparisons down, you can delve a little deeper. So, compare poems with similar ideas/content, and then go into detail about HOW and WHY these poems share these ideas/content. What is each poet trying to say? THEN go on to note how the speakers' attitudes might differ. In what way do they differ? What is the effect that each poet is going for? Get the basics down, keep it simple, and you'll get inspired to go into detail organically from there.
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