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Compare the Language in 'Winter Swans' and Other Poems

In this worksheet, students will be able to use this activity to practice their language comparison skills between 'Winter Swans' and other poems.

'Compare the Language in 'Winter Swans' and Other Poems' worksheet

Key stage:  KS 4

GCSE Subjects:   English Literature

GCSE Boards:   AQA

Curriculum topic:   Poetry

Curriculum subtopic:   Love and Relationships: 'Winter Swans'

Difficulty level:  

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

Want to revise your language comparison skills in 'Winter Swans' and other poems in your 'Love and Relationships' cluster?

 

 

Thought bubble

 

 

Well, you've come to the right place. In this activity, you'll learn to practise comparing the way different poets use language to convey different and similar attitudes and ideas. 

 

 

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 'Winter Swans', Sheers uses present continuous verbs such as 'stilling' and 'settling' to convey a sense of immediacy. Furthermore, these verbs convey a sense of peace and unity, which the couple feel towards each other after seeing the swans. Day-Lewis in 'Walking Away' also uses present continuous verbs such as 'drifting away' and 'eddying away' to convey the separation between the speaker and his son. However, the use of verbs in this poem conveys movement away from the speaker. It reinforce themes of separation and distance.

 

In 'Winter Swans', Sheers uses natural imagery to showcase the relationship between love and nature.

 

 

Tick one other poem which does this.

 

'Porphyria's Lover'

'Before You Were Mine'

'Singh Song!'

'Sonnet 29'

In 'Winter Swans' Sheers uses personification.

 

What other poem uses personification? Pick one.

 

'Neutral Tones'

'Follower'

'Eden Rock'

'Singh Song!'

 

In 'Winter Swans', Sheers uses a lot of contrast, i.e the "white" feathered swans against the "dark water" / the boats "righting" in "rough weather".

 

 

What other poem uses this contrast in language? Pick one.

 

'When We Two Parted'

'Love's Philosophy'

'Follower'

In 'Winter Swans' Sheers uses personification, illustrated in the quote - "the waterlogged earth gulping for breath..."

 

 

In which other poem is nature personified?

 

Hint: think about the way nature is personified negatively.

 

Pick one:

 

'Eden Rock'

'Singh Song!'

'Climbing My Grandfather''

'Neutral Tones'

 

How do 'Winter Swans' and 'Walking Away' use similes?

 

Both poems use similes to convey negativity and separation

Where 'Walking Away' uses similes to convey separation between father and son as necessary and natural for a child to be independent, 'Winter Swans' uses similes to convey unity and stability

Where 'Walking Away' uses similes to convey separation between father and son as sad, 'Winter Swans' uses similes to convey separation as something good

How does 'Winter Swans' use language devices which are similar to 'Sonnet 29'?

 

Pick one option from below. Put down the number in the text box.

 

1. Both poems share themes of sex, love and relationships.

2. Both poems use similes and metaphors to link romantic love to nature.

3. Both poems use natural themes to present love as something which is vibrant and alive. 

Taking ideas from the question before, how are 'Winter Swans' and 'Sonnet 29different in their attitudes towards nature/instinct?

 

Fill out the table below.

Do the same thing for this table, but this time look at ideas which are separate/similar

 Pathetic fallacyPersonificationConsistent theme of separationSad toneUnityImagery of deathImagery of peace
'Winter Swans'
'Neutral Tones'

Name another poem where, like 'Winter Swans', ideas change and develop throughout the poem.

 

Pick one out of:

 

'Walking Away'

'When We Two Parted'

'Follower'

Last one! A little bit easier, this time.

 

Name three language devices which link 'Winter Swans' and 'When We Two Parted'.

Imagery of sex

Semantic field of nature

Persuasion

Similes/metaphors

Personal pronouns

Rrhetorical questions

  • Question 1

In 'Winter Swans', Sheers uses natural imagery to showcase the relationship between love and nature.

 

 

Tick one other poem which does this.

 

CORRECT ANSWER
'Sonnet 29'
EDDIE SAYS
'Sonnet 29' also uses natural imagery to convey the relationship between romance and the natural world.
  • Question 2

In 'Winter Swans' Sheers uses personification.

 

What other poem uses personification? Pick one.

 

'Neutral Tones'

'Follower'

'Eden Rock'

'Singh Song!'

 

CORRECT ANSWER
Neutral Tones
EDDIE SAYS
'Neutral Tones' personifies the sun in the first stanza - "the sun was white, as though chidden of God". Again, this personification of nature conveys this link between nature and love - the effect and influence of the natural world on human emotions.
  • Question 3

In 'Winter Swans', Sheers uses a lot of contrast, i.e the "white" feathered swans against the "dark water" / the boats "righting" in "rough weather".

 

 

What other poem uses this contrast in language? Pick one.

 

'When We Two Parted'

'Love's Philosophy'

'Follower'

CORRECT ANSWER
Love's Philosophy
EDDIE SAYS
There is plenty of contrasting language in 'Love's Philosophy': "Single"/"mingle" "Sunlight"/"moonbeams" "Sister"/"brother" "Disdain"/"forgiven" Contrast is an interesting device because its effect really depends on the theme of the poem. So, Sheers, in 'Winter Swans', uses contrast to show the couple's reconciliation as they move from distant to unified. In 'Love's Philosophy', contrast is used to present balance and harmony in nature.
  • Question 4

In 'Winter Swans' Sheers uses personification, illustrated in the quote - "the waterlogged earth gulping for breath..."

 

 

In which other poem is nature personified?

 

Hint: think about the way nature is personified negatively.

 

Pick one:

 

'Eden Rock'

'Singh Song!'

'Climbing My Grandfather''

'Neutral Tones'

 

CORRECT ANSWER
Neutral Tones
EDDIE SAYS
In 'Neutral Tones', Hardy writes of the "starving sod". Pretty much the same personification of nature to reflect a relationship that's in conflict! Unfortunately, for Hardy's couple, there's no real catalyst which changes the course of the relationship from conflicted to peaceful. Therefore, nature reflects the sadness of the couple in 'Neutral Tones'. It is reflective of the failing relationship.
  • Question 5

How do 'Winter Swans' and 'Walking Away' use similes?

 

CORRECT ANSWER
Where 'Walking Away' uses similes to convey separation between father and son as necessary and natural for a child to be independent, 'Winter Swans' uses similes to convey unity and stability
EDDIE SAYS
Both poems use similes to convey separation in different lights: In 'Walking Away', the similes "like a winged seed loosened from its parent stem" or "like a satellite wrenched..." convey this idea of separation. It is sad but necessary for childhood independence to occur, hence the overuse of natural imagery. Themes of necessity, pain and nostalgia are present in the poem and through the language use. However, in 'Winter Swans' the similes "like boats righting..." and "like a pair of wings" convey unity and togetherness. So the poems use similes quite differently. Same feature, contrasting attitudes.
  • Question 6

How does 'Winter Swans' use language devices which are similar to 'Sonnet 29'?

 

Pick one option from below. Put down the number in the text box.

 

1. Both poems share themes of sex, love and relationships.

2. Both poems use similes and metaphors to link romantic love to nature.

3. Both poems use natural themes to present love as something which is vibrant and alive. 

CORRECT ANSWER
2
EDDIE SAYS
Both 'Winter Swans' and 'Sonnet 29' use similes and metaphors to convey how love is as powerful and natural as, well, nature! So, if 'Sonnet 29' states that the speaker's thoughts twine like "wild vines about a tree", there is something instinctive and powerful conveyed in the action of thinking about a lover. Similarly, in 'Winter Swans', if the speaker notices that his hand has "somehow, swum the distance" between himself and his lover, this idea of instinct, nature (and the metaphor of swimming) really suggests that there's something natural and instinctive in love. It's uncontrollable, and the lovers can't be kept apart!
  • Question 7

Taking ideas from the question before, how are 'Winter Swans' and 'Sonnet 29different in their attitudes towards nature/instinct?

 

Fill out the table below.

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
This is a tricky one, so well done for having a go! Now, both poems DO use natural imagery and convey the nature of love as something that is natural. However, look at the end of 'Sonnet 29' - the speaker states that she does not "think of thee - I am too near thee", which suggests that the speaker does not care to think about her lover and wants to separate her thoughts from him. This doesn't suggest that she doesn't love him anymore! No, in fact, the poem stresses how much love she has for her lover (it gets a bit steamy). However, Barratt Browning really distinguishes the difference between thinking about her lover constantly, and the idea of just allowing herself to feel love for her lover. She wants to stop thinking about him all the time and just allow herself to be.
  • Question 8

Do the same thing for this table, but this time look at ideas which are separate/similar

CORRECT ANSWER
 Pathetic fallacyPersonificationConsistent theme of separationSad toneUnityImagery of deathImagery of peace
'Winter Swans'
'Neutral Tones'
EDDIE SAYS
Hopefully, this table will help you revise the differences and similarities. Remember, differences are important, but so are similarities. And if they are expressed through language, structure and even form, then try and find a way to explain how and why. The simplest explanation will do - start from there and then you can go into detail and start linking language features to themes. E.g: both 'Winter Swans' and 'Neutral Tones' use pathetic fallacy. However, where 'Neutral Tones' quotes the sun as "chidden of God", presenting the idea of the sun being punished or dimmed in some way, 'Winter Swans' writes about "the afternoon light" as a source of motivation and happiness. This is shown by the way the speaker states that he and his lover "moved on" into the light, as if moving towards a brighter future.
  • Question 9

Name another poem where, like 'Winter Swans', ideas change and develop throughout the poem.

 

Pick one out of:

 

'Walking Away'

'When We Two Parted'

'Follower'

CORRECT ANSWER
Follower
EDDIE SAYS
Maybe this is a bit of a tricky question, but it's designed to make you think. Remember, this activity is for revision and it's totally ok to get things mixed up! It's an opportunity to grow and learn more. In 'Follower', the idea of the speaker looking up at his father changes in the last stanza, where the father becomes the one following his son. The element of time is what flips ideas on their head in this poem.
  • Question 10

Last one! A little bit easier, this time.

 

Name three language devices which link 'Winter Swans' and 'When We Two Parted'.

CORRECT ANSWER
Semantic field of nature
Similes/metaphors
Personal pronouns
EDDIE SAYS
Both poems share a range of language devices. Think about how these language devices show similar/different themes! Remember, semantic field is essentially a collection of words which demonstrate that there's a running theme/motif in the poem. So in 'Winter Swans', we have 'folded', 'swum' and 'pair of wings'; in 'Neutral Tones' we have 'pond', 'winter' 'leaves' and so on... Great focus, that's another activity completed!
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