Background aims at putting the poem briefly into some sort of context. This can be
embroidered as much or as little as the teacher sees fit. It is most important, however, that it
should be dealt with quite quickly. Precious time should rather be spent on the poem itself.
Teachers should remember that knowledge of historical/biographical context is not a formal
Assessment Objective in this syllabus; students are not expected to show knowledge of it in
the exam (not least as there is always the risk of their wasting valuable time in regurgitating
second-hand details – for which they will gain no credit).
Teacher notes to assist a first reading aims at clarifying some areas of potential
difficulty/obscurity and add to (rather than simply repeat) the glosses accompanying the
poem in the anthology.
Student exercises to assist a closer reading of the poem as a whole is the most
important section. It gives some suggestions to teachers for ways to get students to work
individually or in pairs/groups on aspects of the poem which they can then discuss together.
In the spirit of the syllabus, its aim is always to encourage students to deepen their own
response to what they read. So, much of this section is in the form of questions. These
might be used in different ways. Teachers might allow the students to work through their
own modified version of the questions as preparation for a lesson when answers can be
compared and a discussion developed. Alternatively, such questions might be used as a