Choosing what to include

Your point of view about a poem is as valid as anyone else’s, as long as you can back it up with a reference to the text. It's important to choose your reference carefully so that it backs up the point you want to make.

The table below provide some good and bad examples of essay comments.

Essay commentFeedback
William Blake’s A Poison Tree poem is creepy and sinister. He has clearly set out to frighten the reader.To be improved: The opinion might be right, but the writer offers no proof to back it up.
Jackie Kay's Dusting the Phone signals the narrator’s jumpy state-of-mind by the rhetorical questions, 'Who would ring me to tell?' and 'What?'. The impression given is of a nervous woman who is talking to herself – and supplying the answers, too.Good: Short quotations are woven into the flow of the sentences, to support the points being made.
Cecil Day-Lewis' Walking Away sets out to describe his feelings at saying goodbye to his son: 'A sunny day with leaves just turning'. The reader, too, feels the poet’s sadness. To be improved: The quotation does not make any reference to the poet’s feelings of sadness. It is not relevant to the point being made.
Mary Lamb intends her poem, Envy, to be light-hearted and kindly and she reassures the reader with gentle imagery throughout.To be improved: The opinion might be accurate, but the comment does not offer any detailed proof to support it.

Explore the study guide for 'A Poison Tree'.

Explore the study guide for 'Dusting the Phone'.

Explore the study guide for 'Walking Away'.

Explore the study guide for 'Envy'.