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Compare the Content in 'Checking Out Me History' and 'London'

In this worksheet, students will identify the key themes in both 'Checking Out Me History' and 'London' explaining the similarities between the two poems.

'Compare the Content in 'Checking Out Me History' and 'London' ' worksheet

Key stage:  KS 4

GCSE Subjects:   English Literature

GCSE Boards:   AQA

Curriculum topic:   Poetry

Curriculum subtopic:   Power and Conflict: 'Checking Out Me History'

Difficulty level:  

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

For this activity, you will need to turn to the poem 'Checking Out Me History' by John Agard and  'London' by William Blake. Both poems can be found in the Power and Conflict section of your anthology.


 Both 'Checking Out Me History' and 'London' are poems that express the poet's anger towards the abuse of power by those in positions of authority, the key difference is that while Agard provides a solution, Blake does not. This demonstrates how they have different viewpoints on the possibility of change. Both poems create a sense of unfairness to those who are less powerful or wealthy and show that the place where you live can have a huge impact on your well being. 

In the following questions, you will look further at the similarities between the two poems.
 

 

BeachHouses of Parliament

 

 

Boy reading book

 

 

In order to identify the similarities in 'Checking Out Me History' and 'London', we need to understand their meaning. Read the poem 'Checking Out Me History' and match the questions to the correct answers below.

Column A

Column B

What is the poet at conflict with?
The poet is at conflict with the way he was taught...
What is noticeable about the style of the poem?
People in authority
Who are "dem"?
The poet has written in a way that shows his accen...
What does the poet want to "check out"?
His own cultural identity and history

London tower

 

 

Now read the poem 'London' and match the questions to their answers below.

Column A

Column B

What is the narrator doing in the poem?
Wandering through the streets of London
What does he notice about every face he looks at?
That the people in authority do not care about tho...
Why does Blake believe that people stay in London?
How weak and sad they look
What does Blake suggest about the Church?
That it is supposed to help, but does not
What does Blake suggest about power?
They believe that they have no way out

Both of the poems challenge the power of humans from high authorities

 

In 'Checking Out Me History', the poet challenges the authority of the government.

 

toy soldier

The following quotations are all from 'Checking Out Me History'. Choose one which you think supports the idea of the power of humans.

 

"Dick Whittington and he cat"

"Dem tell me"

"Jump over de moon "

"Robin Hood used to camp"

Now, let's compare the power of humans expressed in 'Checking Out Me History', with how it is expressed in 'London'.

 

 

The quotations below are all from 'London'. Choose one which you think shows the power of humans who do not help the poor.

 

"Every black'ning church appals"

"Blasts the new-born infant's tear"

"Blights with plagues"

Both create a tone of anger at this abuse of power.

 

In 'Checking Out Me History' the narrator is angry that his cultural identity has been taken away from him.

 

 

underwater sea

 

 

Choose one quotation which you think reflects the narrator's sense of anger.

 

"Dick Whittington and he cat"

"Blind me to me own identity"

"De man who discover de balloon"

Now, let's compare how anger is presented in 'Checking Out Me History', with how it is used in 'London'.

 

Victorian workhouse

 

 

The following quotations are all from London. Choose one which you think shows how angry the narrator is with the situation.

 

"Chartered Thames does flow"

"I wander through each chartered street"

"In every cry of every man"

Both poems also look at the oppression of people who have less power.

 

Oppression = a situation in which people are governed in an unfair and cruel way and prevented from having opportunities and freedom.

 

Choose one quotation below which you think shows that the narrator of 'Checking Out Me History' suffered from oppression.

 

"De man who discover de balloon"

"And even when de British said no"

"De dish ran away with de spoo"

Now, let's compare how the idea of oppression conveyed in 'Checking Out Me History', and 'London'.

 

Houses of Parliament

 

Read the poem and think about the life that poor people in London would have had.

 

Which quotations do you think express their oppression, and which do not?

 

 Quotations associated with OppressionQuotations NOT associated with Oppression
"Palace walls"
"Marks of weakness"
"Thames does flow"
"Marks of woe"
"Every infant's cry"
"Runs in blood"
"Blights with plagues"
"I wander through"

Both poems present the idea of a solution to the problems in different ways.

 

In 'Checking Out Me History' the narrator uses a hopeful tone to suggest a desire for change.

 

 

man reading

 

 

Choose one quotation which you think suggests that the narrator is hopeful that there is a solution to his problems.

 

"Dem tell me bout Florence Nightingale"

"But now I checking out me own history"

"And de cow who jump over de moon"

In contrast to this, the narrator of 'London' feels that there is no solution to the problems faced by the poor and they are destined to repeat the suffering.

 

The last stanza of the poem finishes with a hopeless tone. Can you match the quotation to the definition?

Column A

Column B

"The youthful harlot's curse"
Illness is so common that people are dying young, ...
"Plagues the marriage hearse"
At a young age, some women already live a life of ...
  • Question 1

Boy reading book

 

 

In order to identify the similarities in 'Checking Out Me History' and 'London', we need to understand their meaning. Read the poem 'Checking Out Me History' and match the questions to the correct answers below.

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

What is the poet at conflict with...
The poet is at conflict with the ...
What is noticeable about the styl...
The poet has written in a way tha...
Who are "dem"?
People in authority
What does the poet want to "check...
His own cultural identity and his...
EDDIE SAYS
'Checking Out Me History' is an assertive, and justifiably angry poem which links the history taught in school to cultural identity. The poet talks of "dem" (the people who taught him history) and it is clear that he feels a sense of alienation and resentment, as he feels "blinded" from his own history. He explains how, as an adult, he is now learning about his own cultural identity.
  • Question 2

London tower

 

 

Now read the poem 'London' and match the questions to their answers below.

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

What is the narrator doing in the...
Wandering through the streets of ...
What does he notice about every f...
How weak and sad they look
Why does Blake believe that peopl...
They believe that they have no wa...
What does Blake suggest about the...
That it is supposed to help, but ...
What does Blake suggest about pow...
That the people in authority do n...
EDDIE SAYS
Published in 1794, 'London' is a poem by British writer William Blake. The poem has a sombre, morbid tone and reflects Blake's unhappiness and misery with his life in London. Blake describes the poverty and harshness of living in London and reflects on the people there who feel like they have no way out.
  • Question 3

Both of the poems challenge the power of humans from high authorities

 

In 'Checking Out Me History', the poet challenges the authority of the government.

 

toy soldier

The following quotations are all from 'Checking Out Me History'. Choose one which you think supports the idea of the power of humans.

 

CORRECT ANSWER
"Dem tell me"
EDDIE SAYS
The quotation "Dem tell me" refers to the power held by the people who had colonised the narrator's homeland and created an education system that meant that the narrator could not learn about his own cultural identity. Instead, he had to learn what they "told" (dictated) to him.
  • Question 4

Now, let's compare the power of humans expressed in 'Checking Out Me History', with how it is expressed in 'London'.

 

 

The quotations below are all from 'London'. Choose one which you think shows the power of humans who do not help the poor.

 

CORRECT ANSWER
"Every black'ning church appals"
EDDIE SAYS
The quotation "Every black'ning church appals" shows the power of the church, and the people within it. The poet is criticising the fact that, despite being powerful, the church does not do enough to help the poor and vulnerable people of London.
  • Question 5

Both create a tone of anger at this abuse of power.

 

In 'Checking Out Me History' the narrator is angry that his cultural identity has been taken away from him.

 

 

underwater sea

 

 

Choose one quotation which you think reflects the narrator's sense of anger.

 

CORRECT ANSWER
"Blind me to me own identity"
EDDIE SAYS
The quotation "Blind me to me own identity" suggests that the narrator is angry at the way he was prevented from learning about his own history and culture. There is a sense of injustice that his country was colonised and he lost out on all of the things that he would have enjoyed learning about most.
  • Question 6

Now, let's compare how anger is presented in 'Checking Out Me History', with how it is used in 'London'.

 

Victorian workhouse

 

 

The following quotations are all from London. Choose one which you think shows how angry the narrator is with the situation.

 

CORRECT ANSWER
"In every cry of every man"
EDDIE SAYS
The quotation "In every cry of every man" conveys a sense of anger with the repetition of the word "every". This suggests that the narrator is overcome by the misery of London and wants to emphasise how dire the situation is.
  • Question 7

Both poems also look at the oppression of people who have less power.

 

Oppression = a situation in which people are governed in an unfair and cruel way and prevented from having opportunities and freedom.

 

Choose one quotation below which you think shows that the narrator of 'Checking Out Me History' suffered from oppression.

 

CORRECT ANSWER
"And even when de British said no"
EDDIE SAYS
The quotation "and even when de British said no" is a reference to the oppression that Mary Seacole faced when she wanted to go and help the wounded in battle. She was told that she couldn't help and that this was due to her racial heritage.
  • Question 8

Now, let's compare how the idea of oppression conveyed in 'Checking Out Me History', and 'London'.

 

Houses of Parliament

 

Read the poem and think about the life that poor people in London would have had.

 

Which quotations do you think express their oppression, and which do not?

 

CORRECT ANSWER
 Quotations associated with OppressionQuotations NOT associated with Oppression
"Palace walls"
"Marks of weakness"
"Thames does flow"
"Marks of woe"
"Every infant's cry"
"Runs in blood"
"Blights with plagues"
"I wander through"
EDDIE SAYS
Much of the poem is centred around the idea of the oppression faced by the poor people of London. Despite the wealth of London and its "palace" and wealthy "churches", the rich and powerful lived a good life, whilst the poor and weak were left to suffer in very difficult circumstances.
  • Question 9

Both poems present the idea of a solution to the problems in different ways.

 

In 'Checking Out Me History' the narrator uses a hopeful tone to suggest a desire for change.

 

 

man reading

 

 

Choose one quotation which you think suggests that the narrator is hopeful that there is a solution to his problems.

 

CORRECT ANSWER
"But now I checking out me own history"
EDDIE SAYS
The quotation "But now I checking out me own history" suggests that things have changed for the narrator and he now has the freedom to learn what he wants. His solution is now to read and educate himself in order to fill in the parts of his history that he feels he missed out on as a child.
  • Question 10

In contrast to this, the narrator of 'London' feels that there is no solution to the problems faced by the poor and they are destined to repeat the suffering.

 

The last stanza of the poem finishes with a hopeless tone. Can you match the quotation to the definition?

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

"The youthful harlot's curse"
At a young age, some women alread...
"Plagues the marriage hearse"
Illness is so common that people ...
EDDIE SAYS
The ending of the poem finishes with a depressing description of life for London's poor, suggesting that there is no solution to the problems. The poet refers to young women who have had to turn to prostitution in order to feed themselves and their children. As a result of this, diseases were rife and often resulted in the passing on of illness after marriage resulting in death.
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