This is the question we were working on in class. We'll finish it tomorrow.
Radio Programme – “Why Young People Should Read Poetry” –Sample Answer (2013, p 18, Q.1)
Opens the imagination / broadens the mind
Improves vocabulary and technical knowledge
Can teach you about history or places you’ve never been
The Conquerors (Henry Treece)
Lake Isle of Innisfree (W.B. Yeats)
Good morning, Mary, and thank you for inviting me to speak to your listeners. I’ve always believed that poetry is incredibly important for young people, even if they don’t realise it when they’re learning it! Poetry opens the imagination and broadens the mind. It also improves our vocabulary and teaches us a wealth of technical information. My final point will touch on the ability of poetry to teach us about historical events or faraway places in an interesting, imaginative way. In order to
illustrate my points, I’ll be referring to “The Conquerors” by Henry Treece, and “The Lake Isle of Innisfree”by W.B. Yeats. However, any poem at all can offer us a whole new world to explore.
In “The Lake Isle of Innisfree”, Yeats uses remarkable imagery to help us imagine the peaceful island. He refers to the “bee-loud glade” and the “purple glow” of noon. These are unusual ways to
describe ordinary things, and really made me think about how we can use language in more interesting ways. His notion that the peace of the island can sustain him when “on the roadway, or on the pavements grey” was a very important idea for me. I think young people are often almost overwhelmed by stress and pressure. Knowing that we can draw past experiences or favourite places to bring some serenity back to our lives is a very useful thing to learn.
As every young person must study English when at school, improving and extending vocabulary is vital. Here again, poetry can play a vital role. The extensive and effective use of adjectives in Henry
Treece’s war poem, “The Conquerors”, taught me a lot about how a well-chosen word can really improve the quality of writing. Phrases like “melancholy song of swinging gates”and “pressing his thin tattered breast against the bars” are superbly evocative. What I found interesting was that almost none of the words were new to me, but many of them were words I never bothered using myself. Treece’s poem taught me that I have a much greater range of words at my disposal
than I had realised, and that I should use them!
Poetry also offers us the opportunity to learn a range of technical vocabulary. After studying a range of poems, I had learnt terms such as alliteration, assonance, enjambment and – my favourite –
onomatopoeia. Of course, young people could simply use a dictionary or a
vocabulary list to learn these terms, but learning them in context is so much
more effective and rewarding. When I think of alliteration, I think of Yeats’
line “lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore.” The second half of this
line is my reminder for assonance. Onomatopoeia