English Literature KS3 / GCSE: Simon Armitage on his poem 'Give'

Simon Armitage reads and analyses his poem ‘Give’, looking at both its surface and deeper meanings.

Images of rough sleepers in Manchester and an interview with a man who has experienced homelessness help give context to the narrative voice of the poem.

Armitage then explores possible deeper meanings behind the surface, linking analysis of language and structure to alternative ways of interpreting the poem.

This clip is from the series Simon Armitage: Writing Poems.

Teacher Notes

Key Stage 3

Can be used to explore different layers of meaning in the poem.

Students are given a diagram containing a centre circle with gradually larger circles expanding outward from this (a pyramid or sandwich template could also be used).

In the centre circle they write a quotation from the poem. In the next circle they write a very literal interpretation of this.

In the adjacent spaces they write increasingly abstract ideas for what the line might mean.

Which pair can come up with the most abstract ideas whilst still remaining credible?

Key Stage 4

Can be used to explore the film director's fairly literal visual interpretation of the poem in the clip.

Choose five of the images from the clip (eg Armitage copying his poem on to the pavement using chalk at night) and discuss why these might have been used.

Students are then asked to draft their own storyboard, for a filmed interpretation of the poem.

Which lines would go in the sound column of their storyboard and with which images? What deeper meanings have students chosen to explore through their particular choices of images in their storyboards?

How have they been able to explore the multiple meanings of many of the lines?

The final ideas could be filmed, or recorded on to presentation software.

Students could be asked to consider the concluding question of whether the poem is really an outcry over public issues of homelessness, or private ones of love? What else is the poem about?

Curriculum Notes

This clip will be relevant for teaching English Literature.

It will be relevant for teaching poetry analysis at KS3 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and Level 3 in Scotland.

This clip could also be used for teaching general poetry analytics skills at KS4/GCSE/National 5.