The smart way to improve grades

Comprehensive & curriculum aligned

Affordable pricing from £10/month

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

In this worksheet, students will practise their language comparison skills between 'Before You Were Mine' and other poems in the Love and Relationships cluster.

'Compare Language 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

In this activity, you'll learn to practise comparing the way the poets use language to convey different/similar attitudes and ideas in 'Before You Were Mine', and other poems in your 'Love and Relationships' cluster.

 

Thought bubble

 

In your exam, you'll do really well to compare the way that poets use language to present their attitudes. You'll do even better if you can compare the way they use language to show different/similar attitudes and ideas. You'll do the best if you can compare the language that is used and how it is used.

 

 

Here's an example of some good language comparison:

 

In 'Before You Were Mine', Duffy uses the adjectives "loud" and "possessive" as a way of describing her role as a dominating presence in her mother's life. However, in 'Mother, Any Distance', Armitage uses the adjective "endless" in "endless sky to fall or fly" to signify the potential ahead of him, as he leaves his mother and becomes independent. Where Duffy uses adjectives to portray herself as possessive and clingy, Armitage's use of adjective suggests that he has broken away from his mother, who is the possessive one in the relationship. The use of "endless" signifies his freedom away from his mother's "anchoring" presence.

 

In 'Before You Were Mine', Duffy uses the metaphor of a "ghost" to suggest that she is being haunted by her mother's past in some way.

 

Tick one other poem which uses metaphor to signify the relationship between parent and child.

 

Hint: look at the second stanza of each poem.

 

'Follower'

'Porphyria's Lover'

'Singh Song!'

'Mother, Any Distance'

In 'Before You Were Mine' Duffy uses verbs such as "sparkle", "waltz" and "laugh" to signify the mother's vivaciousness.

 

Tick one other poem which uses a list of verbs to describe the relationship between parent and child.

 

Hint: look at the last stanza of each poem.

 

'Follower'

'Eden Rock'

'Sonnet 29'

'Mother, Any Distance'

In 'Before You Were Mine' Duffy uses the possessive pronoun "mine" to convey her possessiveness over her mother. The way the possessive pronoun is repeated makes the poem seem like a love poem.

 

 

Tick one other poem which uses the possessive pronoun "mine".

 

Hint: it's a poem about love

 

'Love's Philosophy'

'Porphyria's Lover'

'Sonnet 29'

'Follower'

In 'Before You Were Mine' Duffy uses the pronouns "you" and "I" as if she is directly addressing her mother.

 

Tick two other poems which use pronouns to directly address a subject.

 

'Love's Philosophy'

'Porphyria's Lover'

'Sonnet 29'

'Follower'

In what way do 'Before You Were Mine' and 'Eden Rock' use language to convey a sense of the past/present?

 

Both poems use present tense verbs, even though they're talking about the past, giving a sense of immediacy

Both poems use past tense verbs to convey the past as something distant

Both poems use metaphors to convey that the past is an illusion

Both poems use present and past tense verbs to convey both immediacy and distance

Both poems use similes to convey that the speakers love their parents

In what way do 'Before You Were Mine' and 'Mother, Any Distance' use language to convey the relationship the speaker has with their mother?

 

There are two correct answers.

Both poems use certain imagery to present the speakers as clingy

Both speakers address the mother directly through "I" and "you", which conveys a close relationship

Both poems use metaphors which showcase possessive bonds

Both poems use verbs which convey the past

Both poems use adjectives which suggest that the speakers have bad relationships with their mothers

Check the language devices that you think are similar/different in the two poems.

 

Fill out the table below.

 Uses extended metaphorUses past tense verbsUses glamorous imageryUses adjectives to describe the speaker's personalityUses adjectives to describe the subject's personalityUses personal pronouns
'Before You Were Mine'
'Climbing My Grandfather'

Same again for this table - think about similarities and differences in the poems.

 

 Uses metaphors and symbolismUses direct addressUses present tense verbsUses past tense verbsRefers to subject by noun 'mother'Dramatic monologue (one voice in the poem)
'Before You Were Mine'
'Mother Any Distance'

"whose small bites on your neck, sweetheart?"

 

Write down one poem that you think uses an endearment to portray a close relationship.

 

 

Remember, an endearment is a word/phrase which expresses love/affection.

 

Your options are:

'Singh Song!'

'Winter Swans'

'Letters From Yorkshire'

 

"Till I see you, clear as scent..."

 

Duffy uses some sensory language here (language which links to smell, sight, sound, touch or taste).

 

 

What other poem out of the options below also uses sensory language?

 

Your options are:

'Follower'

'Mother, Any Distance'

'Climbing My Grandfather'

 

  • Question 1

In 'Before You Were Mine', Duffy uses the metaphor of a "ghost" to suggest that she is being haunted by her mother's past in some way.

 

Tick one other poem which uses metaphor to signify the relationship between parent and child.

 

Hint: look at the second stanza of each poem.

 

CORRECT ANSWER
'Mother, Any Distance'
EDDIE SAYS
Did you spot it? The metaphor "Anchor. Kite" suggests that the relationship between parent and child in 'Mother, Any Distance' has, previously, been quite clingy and close.
  • Question 2

In 'Before You Were Mine' Duffy uses verbs such as "sparkle", "waltz" and "laugh" to signify the mother's vivaciousness.

 

Tick one other poem which uses a list of verbs to describe the relationship between parent and child.

 

Hint: look at the last stanza of each poem.

 

CORRECT ANSWER
'Follower'
EDDIE SAYS
Was this easier or more difficult? The active verbs "tripping", "falling" and "yapping" all signify the childish and hopeful relationship that Heaney's speaker had with his dad.
  • Question 3

In 'Before You Were Mine' Duffy uses the possessive pronoun "mine" to convey her possessiveness over her mother. The way the possessive pronoun is repeated makes the poem seem like a love poem.

 

 

Tick one other poem which uses the possessive pronoun "mine".

 

Hint: it's a poem about love

 

CORRECT ANSWER
'Porphyria's Lover'
EDDIE SAYS
The repetition of "mine" in 'Porphyria's Lover' should remind you of 'Before You Were Mine'- how do the possessive natures of the two speakers in each poem reveal themselves?
  • Question 4

In 'Before You Were Mine' Duffy uses the pronouns "you" and "I" as if she is directly addressing her mother.

 

Tick two other poems which use pronouns to directly address a subject.

 

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Looking at personal pronouns and direct address is a good way to gauge the speaker's attitude towards the subject. Usually "you's" and "I's" convey a sense of closeness or some kind of guilt/personal accountability being expressed.
  • Question 5

In what way do 'Before You Were Mine' and 'Eden Rock' use language to convey a sense of the past/present?

 

CORRECT ANSWER
Both poems use present and past tense verbs to convey both immediacy and distance
EDDIE SAYS
Don't worry if you found that tricky! Both poems use past and present tense verbs to give a sense of then/now. It's a way for both speakers to convey bitterness/regret/sadness while also referencing the past at the same time, giving the poems a bittersweet tone. It's important to note that if you want to talk about the present/past, you should look at verb endings.
  • Question 6

In what way do 'Before You Were Mine' and 'Mother, Any Distance' use language to convey the relationship the speaker has with their mother?

 

There are two correct answers.

CORRECT ANSWER
Both speakers address the mother directly through "I" and "you", which conveys a close relationship
Both poems use metaphors which showcase possessive bonds
EDDIE SAYS
In both 'Before You Were Mine' and 'Mother, Any Distance', the speakers seem to have a close relationship with the subject - their mothers - whom they both address directly. Think about similar/different attitudes towards the subject first. Then, you can delve into questions of HOW these attitudes are presented, what similar language techniques are used, and if they are different, how/why they are different.
  • Question 7

Check the language devices that you think are similar/different in the two poems.

 

Fill out the table below.

CORRECT ANSWER
 Uses extended metaphorUses past tense verbsUses glamorous imageryUses adjectives to describe the speaker's personalityUses adjectives to describe the subject's personalityUses personal pronouns
'Before You Were Mine'
'Climbing My Grandfather'
EDDIE SAYS
Hopefully, this table will help you revise the differences and similarities. Remember, differences are important. So, if 'Before You Were Mine' is focused more on the relationship between speaker (Duffy) and subject (mother), then how is this conveyed through language? Differing from this, 'Climbing My Grandfather' doesn't seem to show much about the speaker, but focuses on the grandfather through an extended metaphor and one-sided adjectives; a sort of eulogy commemorating the grandfather. Think about the POINT of each poem and how that point is made?
  • Question 8

Same again for this table - think about similarities and differences in the poems.

 

CORRECT ANSWER
 Uses metaphors and symbolismUses direct addressUses present tense verbsUses past tense verbsRefers to subject by noun 'mother'Dramatic monologue (one voice in the poem)
'Before You Were Mine'
'Mother Any Distance'
EDDIE SAYS
Is this getting easier? 'Mother, Any Distance' is quite similar to 'Before You Were Mine'. Both subjects have a complicated relationship with their mothers, and both discuss possessiveness and independence in a mother/child relationship. However, think about what actually happens in each poem that is different - what can you spot?
  • Question 9

"whose small bites on your neck, sweetheart?"

 

Write down one poem that you think uses an endearment to portray a close relationship.

 

 

Remember, an endearment is a word/phrase which expresses love/affection.

 

Your options are:

'Singh Song!'

'Winter Swans'

'Letters From Yorkshire'

 

CORRECT ANSWER
Singh Song
Singh Song!
'Singh Song!'
EDDIE SAYS
'Singh Song!' uses the repetition of the endearment "baby" to showcase the close relationship the speaker has with his bride. Isn't it interesting how 'Before You Were Mine' uses certain words which seem to give the poem a more romantic, possessive tone? Why do you think Duffy has used particular endearments in her poem and what does it say about the attitudes she is expressing?
  • Question 10

"Till I see you, clear as scent..."

 

Duffy uses some sensory language here (language which links to smell, sight, sound, touch or taste).

 

 

What other poem out of the options below also uses sensory language?

 

Your options are:

'Follower'

'Mother, Any Distance'

'Climbing My Grandfather'

 

CORRECT ANSWER
'Climbing My Grandfather'
EDDIE SAYS
Good work if you went with 'Climbing My Grandfather'. The sensory language in this poem ("watch", "watching", "feeling his heat", "place my feet") makes the relationship between speaker and subject a lot stronger through the language of touching, feeling and watching. What differences can be inferred from the sensory language in 'Before You Were Mine' and 'Climbing'? What attitudes are being expressed? Have a think about that but, for now, well done - you've completed another activity!
---- OR ----

Sign up for a £1 trial so you can track and measure your child's progress on this activity.

What is EdPlace?

We're your National Curriculum aligned online education content provider helping each child succeed in English, maths and science from year 1 to GCSE. With an EdPlace account you’ll be able to track and measure progress, helping each child achieve their best. We build confidence and attainment by personalising each child’s learning at a level that suits them.

Get started
laptop

Start your £1 trial today.
Subscribe from £10/month.