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Evaluate Language Techniques in 'Winter Swans'

In this worksheet, students will be tested on their evaluation of language. Students will analyse the effect of language on the theme, tone and context of the poem, 'Winter Swans'.

'Evaluate Language Techniques in 'Winter Swans'' 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 evaluation skills in 'Winter Swans'?

 

Thought bubble

 

Hopefully, you know 'Winter Swans' well enough by now to be able to evaluate Sheer's choices of language in the poem. Now remember, evaluating language is actually quite simple if you break it down into these two points:

 

What attitudes are expressed by the poet, through this language choice?

 

What effect does this word have on you, the reader?

 

 

When we break up our language evaluation into these two points, it's easier to get into the nitty-gritty of word choice. It also helps to evaluate language by putting ourselves into the speaker of the poem's shoes. Why does the poet use specific words and what is the effect of these words?

 

 

Here's an example of language evaluation to get you going. Don't worry, you won't have to do anything as long as this in the exercise.

 

Sheers uses the simile "like a pair of wings settling after flight". This suggests that the swans the couple have witnessed have influenced and impacted the couple's unification. The attitudes expressed by Sheers exemplify the relationship between nature and humanity; better yet, nature seems to influence unification and harmony between the couple, making them closer to each other.

How does the personification in the first two lines of the second stanza reflect on the couple's relationship?

 

Fill in the two blanks with words from the selection below:

 

Humanises

Animalises

Solidifies

Desperate

Relationship

Friendship

Romance

Why are the words "silent" and "apart" important in reflecting the couple's status at this point in the poem? 

 

All the answers below are correct. Pick the one that you think is the most detailed.

 

The adjective "silent" and adverb "apart" reflect how the couple aren't talking

The adjective "silent" and adverb "apart" reflect how the couple are distant and uncommunicative

The adjective "silent" and adverb "apart" reflect how the couple dislike each other

The adjective "silent" and adverb "apart" reflect how the couple aren't communicating

Quote two metaphors in the poem.

Give an example of a simile used in the poem.

"Like boats righting in rough weather"

 

 

What does this quote suggest about the couple's relationship?

 

Fill in the blank spaces.

 

These options are for the second and third blank space only.

Happy

Rough

Pleasant

Meaningful

Sad

Stability

Instability

Difficult

Trying

Write down the device that Sheers uses in the last two lines of the poem, and its effect.

 

You should be able to get it down in two sentences.

'I noticed our hands that had, somehow, swum the distance between us'

 

 

Have a go at writing a little bit about some of the different language usage in the quote.

 

What language devices does Sheers use?

What kind of word classification is "somehow"?

What effect does "swum" have? Is there any other quote you can link this one to which really showcases the effect nature has on the couple's relationship?

 

You only need three sentences for three marks.

Name one verb used in the poem which reflects the couple's relationship at the end of the poem.

 

Hint: there are two verbs.

Evaluate the use of the word "unison" in the second line of the third stanza.

 

What kind of word classification is unison?

What effect does this word have, either on you, as a reader, or the couple, who are viewing the swans?

 

You get two marks for two sentences. 

 Evaluate Sheers' use of the word "folded" in the last stanza. What are the connotations of the word?

 

Again, remember to identify what type of word classification the word is.

 

You get two marks for two sentences

  • Question 1

How does the personification in the first two lines of the second stanza reflect on the couple's relationship?

 

Fill in the two blanks with words from the selection below:

 

Humanises

Animalises

Solidifies

Desperate

Relationship

Friendship

Romance

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
The personification of the earth "gulping" for breath is really important. We've looked at the way language is used to make nature influence the couple's relationship, but think about the reverse: how is the couple's relationship reflecting their natural surrounding?
  • Question 2

Why are the words "silent" and "apart" important in reflecting the couple's status at this point in the poem? 

 

All the answers below are correct. Pick the one that you think is the most detailed.

 

CORRECT ANSWER
The adjective "silent" and adverb "apart" reflect how the couple are distant and uncommunicative
EDDIE SAYS
All answers are correct in a sense, but option two is the most concise, detailed and hits the nail on the head. The use of the words "silent" and "apart" not only convey physical distance, but also the fact that the couple are mentally distant too. Throughout this activity, it may be a good idea to write down our language analysis for your own revision.
  • Question 3

Quote two metaphors in the poem.

CORRECT ANSWER
"Icebergs of white feather"
Icebergs of white feather
"Porcelain over the stilling water"
Porcelain over the stilling water
EDDIE SAYS
There are two instances of metaphor in the poem. For both examples, the metaphors really reflect the swans. The imagery of winter is present in the "icebergs" which relates to the title, "Winter Swans". There's also the idea that the swans are "porcelain" giving a real sense of beauty and delicacy. Porcelain is a type of valuable, decorative ceramic material. This, connected with the 'icebergs', gives the swans a real wintery, graceful feeling. Remember to use quotation marks "-" when quoting directly from a piece of writing.
  • Question 4

Give an example of a simile used in the poem.

CORRECT ANSWER
"As if rolling weights down their bodies to their heads"
As if rolling weights down their bodies to their heads
"Like boats righting in rough weather"
Like boats righting in rough weather
"Like a pair of wings settling after flight"
Like a pair of wings settling after flight
EDDIE SAYS
Think about the effect these similes have on the poem as a whole. What does each one suggest? Let's start with one: "as if rolling weights...". The swans tipping together seem effortless, but the simile likens the action to them rolling weights. Although the swans are tipping together, the connotation of the word "weights" suggests that, in a relationship, there will be hard times which weigh down and test the couple. The dual meaning that this simile portrays gives the image of the swans tipping together more depth and meaning.
  • Question 5

"Like boats righting in rough weather"

 

 

What does this quote suggest about the couple's relationship?

 

Fill in the blank spaces.

 

These options are for the second and third blank space only.

Happy

Rough

Pleasant

Meaningful

Sad

Stability

Instability

Difficult

Trying

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
The simile of a boat righting in rough weather really symbolises the idea of stability even during hard times, which is one of the main motifs of the poem.
  • Question 6

Write down the device that Sheers uses in the last two lines of the poem, and its effect.

 

You should be able to get it down in two sentences.

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
The swan imagery, in the form of a simile, reflects how the poet hammers down the point of connection between nature and a happy relationship. Another word to use, that'd definitely give you some marks in your exam, is 'semantic field'. This is where a piece of writing has words which connote to a certain theme or image. In this case, the words "swum", "wings", "flight" and "folded" have a semantic field of swan imagery. This presents the couple's resolution as something directly influenced by the swans. Think about the connotations of swans. They mate for life (as mentioned by the poem) but they're also beautiful, graceful birds. What does this imply about the relationship, that it relies so heavily on a comparison to swans? Do you think it suggests that the relationship is beautiful and graceful, or perhaps that it aspires to be?
  • Question 7

'I noticed our hands that had, somehow, swum the distance between us'

 

 

Have a go at writing a little bit about some of the different language usage in the quote.

 

What language devices does Sheers use?

What kind of word classification is "somehow"?

What effect does "swum" have? Is there any other quote you can link this one to which really showcases the effect nature has on the couple's relationship?

 

You only need three sentences for three marks.

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
The idea of the hands swimming together is a real clue that the swans have had a direct effect on the couple's reconciliation, so any recognition of this is a real win! Also notice how the speaker joins hands with his love, involuntarily, as if it's all-natural and he doesn't have to force anything.
  • Question 8

Name one verb used in the poem which reflects the couple's relationship at the end of the poem.

 

Hint: there are two verbs.

CORRECT ANSWER
settling
stilling
EDDIE SAYS
The continuous verbs "settling" and "stilling" are the correct ones here. You're right in thinking about these verbs as calm/tranquil, but think about the immediate effect these verbs have - just as the swans have an immediate effect of lightening the couple's relationship, these verbs echo this sense of immediacy. Furthermore, the verbs are continuous, implying they have a long-lasting effect of tranquillity and peacefulness.
  • Question 9

Evaluate the use of the word "unison" in the second line of the third stanza.

 

What kind of word classification is unison?

What effect does this word have, either on you, as a reader, or the couple, who are viewing the swans?

 

You get two marks for two sentences. 

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
The noun "unison" really reflects the idea of harmony - the swans represent togetherness. Think about the effect this has on the couple. If you haven't already, do you think this noun has any connections with the pronoun "we" used throughout the poem? What about the effect this word has on the fact that the couple join hands?
  • Question 10

 Evaluate Sheers' use of the word "folded" in the last stanza. What are the connotations of the word?

 

Again, remember to identify what type of word classification the word is.

 

You get two marks for two sentences

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
We've talked a lot about the symbolism of the swans- the verb "folded" really links to the idea of wings folding down (and this is truly emphasised by the simile that Sheers uses). But think about the image that the hands folding over each other provides, as well. It's quite intimate and the verb 'to fold' really connotes to submissiveness or giving over to someone else. Do you think this verb is used to suggest that the couple have folded over their own stubbornness over an argument? Great focus, that's another activity completed!
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