Comparing Anthology Poems

In the exam, you are expected to compare two poems on a linked theme. Remember, you will be given one poem and asked to select another of your own choice. The full list of poems is printed in the exam paper to help you with this.

For example:

Compare the ways poets present ideas about power in ‘Ozymandias’ and in one other poem from ‘Power and conflict’.

When choosing your second poem, there are three things to consider:

  • Does it link to the theme in the question?
  • Does it link to the named poem (either similar or a direct opposite works best)?
  • Do you know at least 3/4 quotations?

If the answer is YES to all of these questions, then it is a good choice!

The link below is to a resource which might help you in thinking about how the poems link together:


Poetry links

Below is a suggested structure for approaching the comparison question. Your class teacher might have given you specific guidance for your target grade, so take this into account please.


Explain how your two poems link to the question. Try to focus the question to a specific argument e.g. if the question is about the ‘power of nature’ you might want to explore how two poets show the power of nature against mankind.


Explore how the two poets use rhyme, rhythm, stanza length, enjambment or caesura to control the pace and tone of the poem. You might also want to consider the formality of the poems and whether they are personal experiences or the voice of characters (dramatic monologues). ONLY WRITE ABOUT ANY OF THIS IF YOU CAN LINK IT TO THE QUESTION!!!


Explore how the two poets use poetic techniques and language to present their ideas. Follow this structure:

  • POINT – what idea links the two poems e.g. both poems explore the power and danger of nature.
  • Connective (similarly / whereas etc)
  • Sum up the point both poems are making

Do the above about four times and you have a perfect exam response! Well done!


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