The smart way to improve grades

Comprehensive & curriculum aligned

Affordable pricing from £10/month

Compare and Evaluate the Effectiveness and Presentation of Ideas in 'Before You Were Mine' and Other Poems

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

'Compare and Evaluate the Effectiveness and Presentation of Ideas 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 practice your comparative and evaluation skills between 'Before You Were Mine' and other poems?

 

Thought bubble

 

Well, you've come to the right place because this activity will help you learn to compare and evaluate ideas/attitudes/themes at the same time. It's just a bit of multitasking and you can do it!

 

It'll take some good deduction skills, as well as an understanding of the themes and ideas you want to discuss. You need to think about how the poet presents ideas differently/similarly in both poems. 

 

1. Make your point!

 

 In 'Before You Were Mine' Duffy uses the metaphor of 'Marilyn' to imply that her mother had beauty and glamour like Marilyn Monroe. Deeper still, the symbolic reference to Marilyn Monroe suggests that the mother has aspirations of becoming a celebrity or, perhaps, that many people watch her, just as Marilyn is watched on the big screen.

 

2. Link to another poem!

 

Similarly, in 'Walking Away', Cecil Day-Lewis uses a metaphor of the 'winged seed loosened' from a 'parent stem' to portray the speaker's sadness over his child becoming independent and moving away from him.

 

3. Compare!

 

When Duffy uses the metaphor of comparing her mother to Marilyn Monroe, a glamorous movie star, to convey her feelings of admiration towards her, Day-Lewis uses a metaphor from nature. 

 

4. Evaluate

 

So, while Duffy seems to look up to this past image of her mum, as some kind of untouchable, larger than life celebrity, Day-Lewis portrays his son as something smaller, more vulnerable: a seed. Perhaps this is because Duffy is speaking as the child, whereas Day-Lewis is the parent. 

 

 

A tip: it'll help to jot down any new/helpful advice you get given in this activity!

Think about comparing 'Before You Were Mine' to 'Mother, Any Distance'.

 

Which structural feature would make the most sense to compare the two poems with?

 

1. Short sentence length

2. Rhetorical questions

3. Paragraph length

4. Punctuation

Think about how you could 'Before You Were Mine' to 'Follower'.

 

Which structural feature would make the most sense to compare the two poems with?

 

1. Personal pronouns

2. Caesura

3. Colons/semi-colons

4. Repetition

Think about comparing 'Before You Were Mine' to 'Climbing My Grandfather'.

 

Which language feature would make the most sense to compare the two poems with?

1. Sentence length

2. Extended metaphor

3. Adjectives

4. Commas

Think about comparing 'Before You Were Mine' to 'Eden Rock'.

 

Which language feature would make the most sense to compare the two poems with?

1. Present tense verbs

2. Short sentences

3. Metaphor

4. Proper nouns

Think about comparing 'Before You Were Mine' to 'Walking Away'.

 

Which feature would you use to compare these two poems?

 

Simile

Rhyme

Extended metaphor

Form

Think about comparing 'Before You Were Mine' to 'Follower' and 'Eden Rock'.

 

What themes, language/structural/form features and ideas does each poem have?

 

Some themes are shared between the three poems.

 'Before You Were Mine''Follower''Eden Rock'
Caesura
Metaphor
Enjambement
Consistent stanza length
Past/Present themes
One word Sentences
Death
Femininity
Idolisation

Think about comparing 'Before You Were Mine' to 'Singh Song!'

 

What themes, language/structural/form features and ideas does each poem have?

 

Some of these are shared between the two poems.

 FemininityRomanceDialect/CultureHumourConsistent stanza lengthCaesura
'Before You Were Mine'
'Singh Song'

Pick one poem out of the 8 options below that you think would be best to compare 'Before You Were Mine' with, in the context to the theme below.

 

Consider the theme of possessive love.

 

'Follower'

'Eden Rock'

'Porphyria's Lover'

'Neutral Tones'

'Climbing My Grandfather'

'Sonnet 29'

'Love's Philosophy'

'Winter Swans'

How does 'Before You Were Mine' and 'Mother, Any Distance' present the theme of independence?

 

Two sentences for how the theme is presented similarly. Make sure to include your evidence (two marks).

 

Two sentences for how the theme is presented differently. Make sure to include your evidence (two marks).

How does 'Before You Were Mine' and 'Follower' present the theme of the past?

 

Two sentences for how the theme is presented similarly. Make sure to include your evidence (two marks).

 

Two sentences for how the theme is presented differently. Make sure to include your evidence (two marks).

  • Question 1

Think about comparing 'Before You Were Mine' to 'Mother, Any Distance'.

 

Which structural feature would make the most sense to compare the two poems with?

 

1. Short sentence length

2. Rhetorical questions

3. Paragraph length

4. Punctuation

CORRECT ANSWER
Short sentence length
EDDIE SAYS
Short sentence length would be the appropriate answer here because both poems employ short sentences to convey a certain tone. Think about the abruptness of "Marilyn" in Duffy's poem. Then think about the "Anchor. Kite" mention in 'Armitage'. What connects these one-word sentences together? They're both metaphors! They both convey stark imagery and, most importantly, convey the speakers' attitudes towards their respective mothers.
  • Question 2

Think about how you could 'Before You Were Mine' to 'Follower'.

 

Which structural feature would make the most sense to compare the two poems with?

 

1. Personal pronouns

2. Caesura

3. Colons/semi-colons

4. Repetition

CORRECT ANSWER
Caesura
EDDIE SAYS
Caesura is the correct answer here! Caesura is an interesting one because it's easy to skip over, but also easy to analyse and compare (and provides a good selection of marks if you compare it's use properly). Look at the use of caesura in 'Before You Were Mine' "right walk home could bring. I knew you would dance..." note how the break-up of the two sentences allows Duffy to move from her mother as the focus of the topic to herself. This sudden switch up from Duffy's mother's point of view to Duffy's own, allows us to see the passage of time in a single stanza. This gives the reader the sense that time has passed quickly. We go from the mother's memories of youth (told through Duffy's voice) to Duffy's present-day perspective, making the switch abrupt, sudden and perhaps startling. The caesura also reminds us that Duffy is able to switch perspective, from her mother's to her own. 'Follower' uses caesura in a similar way. We have, in the last stanza, a description of how Heaney's speaker used to be as a child, "a nuisance [...] yapping always". But the caesura comes in and we switch to a "but today it is my father who keeps stumbling...". Just like in Duffy's poem, caesura is used to convey the passage of time, from then to now.
  • Question 3

Think about comparing 'Before You Were Mine' to 'Climbing My Grandfather'.

 

Which language feature would make the most sense to compare the two poems with?

1. Sentence length

2. Extended metaphor

3. Adjectives

4. Commas

CORRECT ANSWER
Adjectives
EDDIE SAYS
The use of adjectives in the poem reveals the attitudes of the speaker towards the subject. Duffy uses multiple adjectives, from "fizzy, movie tomorrows" to "loud possessive yell"- all conveying the mother's change from an exciting past to an unfulfilling and dull present. Duffy's regret and empathy is highlighted by the adjectives used. Similarly, they present an intimate picture of what Duffy believes her mother deserves in the stark contrast between her past and present life. Waterhouse uses an abundance of adjectives as well, although, unlike Duffy, they do not change in tone. We have "screed cheek", "thick hair" and "good heart" - adjectives go from physical descriptors to an emotional descriptor. We get a real sense of there being a journey, as the speaker ventures from the outside to the inside, revealing his grandfather's true nature.
  • Question 4

Think about comparing 'Before You Were Mine' to 'Eden Rock'.

 

Which language feature would make the most sense to compare the two poems with?

1. Present tense verbs

2. Short sentences

3. Metaphor

4. Proper nouns

CORRECT ANSWER
Present tense verbs
EDDIE SAYS
The use of present tense verbs in Duffy's poem, e.g: "bend", "stands", "clatters" all give a sense of immediacy. Of course, Duffy interjects with some past tense verbs, which reflects the contrast between then and now. Duffy allows the reader to feel as if they are in her mother's head by using present tense verbs. This then makes the fact that she is recalling a past life, even more, depressing and unfortunate, Duffy solidifies this sense that the mother has sacrificed a part of herself to motherhood. Causley does something very similar in 'Eden Rock'. The past comes to the present, presented in the verbs "pours", "has", "takes" - there's a real sense of immediacy in the poem, which takes on an urgent tone when we realise that this is all imagined by the poet. Similar to Duffy, Causley uses past tense verbs. It is only right at the end that he writes "I had not thought...", which pulls the reader away from the immediacy of the present, back into the past. Since the poem is about death (death of the parents, the 'imagined' death of the poet), the past tense verb "had" sets an intensely nostalgic and mournful tone.
  • Question 5

Think about comparing 'Before You Were Mine' to 'Walking Away'.

 

Which feature would you use to compare these two poems?

 

CORRECT ANSWER
Form
EDDIE SAYS
Out of this selection, the one thing which makes the most sense for comparison is form. Both poems have a five-sentence, four stanza form. Think about the consistency of this form - nothing changes. This gives the poem a cyclical feel, further emphasizing it's bitter and sad tone, almost as if these feelings are an inevitable part of the human experience. For Duffy's poem, the form suggests that it is natural for a mother to lose her sense of self upon having children. Think about the cyclical repetition of the sentence "before you were mine", too. As if nothing is destined to change. The same is true for 'Walking Away' - the form of the poem is constant, reflecting the idea that every child must walk away from their parent. It is a rite of passage.
  • Question 6

Think about comparing 'Before You Were Mine' to 'Follower' and 'Eden Rock'.

 

What themes, language/structural/form features and ideas does each poem have?

 

Some themes are shared between the three poems.

CORRECT ANSWER
 'Before You Were Mine''Follower''Eden Rock'
Caesura
Metaphor
Enjambement
Consistent stanza length
Past/Present themes
One word Sentences
Death
Femininity
Idolisation
EDDIE SAYS
Great focus. Ideally, this activity has got you to look at common themes and language devices amongst the three poems. Jot down any inspirations you find and expand on them in your own time finding supporting quotes.
  • Question 7

Think about comparing 'Before You Were Mine' to 'Singh Song!'

 

What themes, language/structural/form features and ideas does each poem have?

 

Some of these are shared between the two poems.

CORRECT ANSWER
 FemininityRomanceDialect/CultureHumourConsistent stanza lengthCaesura
'Before You Were Mine'
'Singh Song'
EDDIE SAYS
Is this getting easier? Hopefully, you managed to spot the common devices used and themes present in each of the poems.
  • Question 8

Pick one poem out of the 8 options below that you think would be best to compare 'Before You Were Mine' with, in the context to the theme below.

 

Consider the theme of possessive love.

 

CORRECT ANSWER
'Porphyria's Lover'
EDDIE SAYS
It may not seem like the best option to compare 'Before You Were Mine' to 'Porphyria's Lover', but think about it more closely. Duffy's poem reads like a love poem, the use of possessive pronoun "mine", which is repeated across the poem, reading like a jealous lover. Think about doing an exercise where you compare these two poems. That doesn't mean you have to do it in the exam, but it will help you to challenge yourself by allowing you to pick up on aspects of both poems that you wouldn't have thought of previously!
  • Question 9

How does 'Before You Were Mine' and 'Mother, Any Distance' present the theme of independence?

 

Two sentences for how the theme is presented similarly. Make sure to include your evidence (two marks).

 

Two sentences for how the theme is presented differently. Make sure to include your evidence (two marks).

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
With questions like these, try and think as logically as possible. How are the two themes presented and, what devices do the writers use to get the themes across? So, thinking about the subjects' attitudes, the speakers' attitudes and what's actually going on in the poem (easier done than you might think) is a great idea. Then, think about how these attitudes are presented. Is it through passionate adjectives, symbolism/metaphor, maybe short sentences? Lastly, when you've listed all the important points and supporting evidence in detail, it's time to structure your answer in a simple paragraph. I.e. Where Duffy's poem presented the theme of (x) as (x), Armitage's poem presents the theme of (x). In Duffy, this is done by (x), which presents the theme of (x) as (x). Contrastingly, Armitage uses (x) to present the theme of (x) as (x).
  • Question 10

How does 'Before You Were Mine' and 'Follower' present the theme of the past?

 

Two sentences for how the theme is presented similarly. Make sure to include your evidence (two marks).

 

Two sentences for how the theme is presented differently. Make sure to include your evidence (two marks).

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Like with the previous question, try and think about how the two themes are presented and what devices the writers use to get the themes across. Taking all points of view into consideration and after detailing all the important bits, structure your answer in a simple paragraph. I.e. where Duffy's poem presented the theme of (x) as (x), Heaney's poem presents the theme of (x). In Duffy, this is done by (x) which presents the theme of (x) as (x). On the other hand, Heaney uses (x) to present the theme of (x) as (x).
Try it ---- 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.