You may be asked to compare the contexts of two poems. For a reminder of how to approach this sort of analysis, read the study guide on 'Responding to poetry'.
As with other areas of comparison, you should comment on more than just the different contexts between two poems. Think about how their contexts relate to each other wherever possible. Try to avoid:
Think about pairs of poems you know whose contexts could be compared with one another using the following prompts:
The table below demonstrates some examples for how you might approach comparing the contexts between two poems.
|Context||Poem A||Poem B||Ideas for comparison|
|Historical||Exposure by Wilfred Owen||Remains by Simon Armitage||Both war poems: Owen - WW1; Armitage - contemporary Middle East conflict. Both show tragedy of war and effect on serving soldiers.|
|Place||Living Space by Imtiaz Dharker||Cozy Apologia by Rita Dove||Domestic locations, how we live in our homes - life and buildings. Dharker - precarious buildings, poor lives’, Dove - comfortable, safe.|
|Social and cultural||Kamikaze by Beatrice Garland||The Émigrée by Carol Rumens||People affected by conflict, excluded from home, culture, sadness, effect of culture on individuals. Garland - speaker within country, reflecting on life as an outcast. Rumens - speaker safe but banished from homeland.|
|Literary||The Destruction of Sennacherib by Lord Byron||To Autumn by John Keats||Influence of Romanticism: power of nature in both, impact of death. Byron - relationship with past, biblical account. Keats - focus on the present, personal account.|
|Readers||Envy by Mary Lamb||What Were They Like? by Denise Levertov||Lamb - moral message in nursery rhymes popular at the time, but still relevant now. Levertov - Vietnam War in more recent past, a second voice used, reader looks back with hindsight.|
|Biographical||To Autumn by John Keats||Living Space by Imtiaz Dharker||Biographical details add to poems’ power. Keats - died not long after poem published, sense of own death present? Dharker - modern-day poet who's spent much time in Mumbai, affected by life in slum towns.|