D.E.E Chains

You have heard of PEE Chains. You have even heard of PEED Chains, where the D stands for Development [of your own ideas], but I bet you have not heard of a DEE Chain. There is a simple reason. They were only invented a few hours ago, by me.

A PEE chain stands for Point, Evidence and then Explanation. Now that is all well and good where a definition is NOT needed. However, if you were writing about the intentional fallacy, you would be expected to define it. In this case, you would adopt a DEE Pattern of writing, offering a definition of something, followed by the example from the text [or possibly merged together as you will see later] and then you would mention the effect on the reader.

Therefore, you could consider this D E E pattern of writing to ensure clarity and accuracy. This would be vital. An example would be where there is a simile in a piece of writing. Instead of writing about the quote and saying the that this is an example of something [someone’s love being compared to a rose etc], one would try to use the definition of a language item, so the reader can take time to learn these things. In this way, your writing, in the middle section of an essay needs to be as perfect as possible.

Here are a few ideas……

Is this a successful DEE Chain?

When Shakespeare uses the term “the eye of heaven,” in sonnet 18, he is using a metaphor, which is way of comparing two things by turning them into one and it has the effect of bringing a single unified image into the mind of the reader, who sees the image of the sun, shining gloriously in the heavens and uses that image to sense the love that the writer has for his love, which may or may not be the Bard’s mysterious dark skinned lady as mentioned elsewhere. 

In doing it this way, not only are you analysing language, as requested in some of the exam questions, but you are also showing that you know what you are talking [or writing] about. This is important.

Now have a go at locating the simile in this piece and writing a similar DEE chain… explaining the effect on the reader, how the images are used in comparison. Then you will get the idea.

“The air smelled sharp as new-cut wood, slicing low and sly around the angles of buildings.”
[from Chocolat, by Joanne Harris]

So, there you have it. By defining the thing, whether it be simile, metaphor, assonance or alliteration, you get a better, clearer answer. All you need to do now is go to the search bar on this site and type in GLOSSARY and press ENTER and then learn each definition.


A Burdened Soul…….My Tribute To A King

A Burdened Soul

I have lain here for some time in life’s perpetual earth,
Silently ruminating over the possibilities that might have been;
A Royal Kingdom united, babes cherished and adored,
A life dedicated to the majesty and the glory of God.
But what the intervening years display is a criminal, a man
Who you think was led to acts of cruelty, in times of old.
But is that the real King? Is that all that your eyes behold
As you file by in slow and sombre mood to pay your respects?
Is all you see here the remnant of a once noble and powerful man,
Or do you see the remains of a soul in torment for so long,
A burdened soul seeking to be set free at the last day?
I see you looking on and I see your grief for me,
But do not weep; mourn not for me in this rendezvous of man.
Where death leads to life; instead, remember the nature of man
And see that my all my hope indeed, lies in the God of heaven.
I now lay in state, for all to pay homage but that is not what I want;
All I desire is that you see me and consider the value of life.

Richard – Carol Ann Duffy + Analysis

Richard – Carol Ann Duffy


On the 26th March 2015, we in Britain laid to rest one of this country’s most illustrious Kings. In life, he was a mystery, an enigma. Indeed, William Shakespeare penned him in his now infamous play in a certain way, to make him sound like the villain of the piece, the one person responsible for young, Royal deaths, for the demise of his Kingdom. He was, in the Bard’s eyes, partly responsible for so many wrong things in this country.

When Shakespeare wrote Richard III, he did so with a political and/or moral point in mind, so when a short time ago, an archaeological dig found human remains in their first trench dug in Leicester, under a car park, the world watched on as DNA testing took place. Eventually, there came the news that they had found the remains of the late, King Richard III, slain at Bosworth and hastily buried by Monks at the time. He had been there for nearly 500 years so the story was, and is, immense.

As part of the decision to lay him to rest in Leicester Cathedral, the poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, was asked to write a poem that tried to encapsulate Richard in one go. Given the fact that 500 years of British history had gone by, opinions formed and with most of us being able to quote “A horse, a horse, my Kingdom for a horse,” or “now is the winter of our discontent,” it made for an intriguing story.

So, I watched last night on the television, the highlights of the reburial in Leicester Cathedral, and heard the actor Benedict Cumberbatch, himself related loosely to Richard III, read this poem. He began with his usual gravitas, just as, I believe, Duffy would want, when he read the first line, with the voice of Richard sounding through the centuries to us in this modern age.

Those words: “My bones, scripted in light,” resonated the meaning straight away. The reader, if you are ever studying this at some point later in GCSE or other studies, is left in no doubt that Richard is speaking and that is a very clever skill from Duffy, who gives such an enigma his voice at last.

Gone are the myths. Gone are the rumours. All we have is this one, lone voice, who has laid “upon cold soil, a human braille” for so long now. His burial would have been hasty. In those days, Kings won their power in battle and tended to lose their heads at the hands of their victor. Anyone who has read and studied Macbeth will know what I mean.

His voice asks us to consider certain certain things in this poem. He says “my skull, scarred by a crown, emptied of history” which is meant to make us think of the time when he did wear the crown of England and would have done so with pride. But there is a deathly element to the words as well for his skull is indeed, scarred by the rigours of being buried where he was for such a length of time.

“Describe my soul,” he asks, and see what you get. Can we describe a soul? Not really, but the myths that surround Richard III are ones that develop his mystique in such a way as to be villainous and we do not really know if this is true or not. “Describe my soul as incense” makes a little more sense in the fact that this poem was meant to be read out by someone at a church service for Richard III’s funeral. Incense is used at such a burial in the Church of England and in Catholic Churches.

The word “votive” is a strange one, so please do not get hooked up on it. You are better suited looking at the rest of the words, like “vanishing,” reflecting the vanishing nature of Richard’s remains over time. Each word is a reminder of where such a nobleman has been hiding for the last half of a Millennium. This, coupled with the words “Grant me the carving of my name” lead to a powerful pause in the thoughts of those who read or hear this.

Up until now, this poem has been more about Richard and his soul. Now, he refers to the “relics” and asks us to “bless” them. We hear him say that he imagines us as we “re-tie a broken string and on it thread a cross.” This Christian symbol is one that was taken from him when he died, so Duffy relates this as she has the King uttering “the symbol severed from me when I died.” It is as if the King himself is not dead, but speaking to us directly in a very powerful manner.

And then we see a change in direction as Duffy refers us to the “end of time.” This is a Christian belief in what will happen at the end of days, when God will end this world as we know it and all things will be made new, as it says in the book of Revelation. But as this happens, there will be “an unknown, unfelt loss,” according to Richard III and Carol Ann Duffy, unless there is actually something we call “the Resurrection of the Dead.” The ellipsis at the end of the line is meant to make you think of what comes next; heaven, Nirvana, rebirth, reincarnation etc.

Many a great and wonderful war poet has tried to get over to the reader the idea of what it is like to be on the battle field. But here, Duffy does this in a different way, for she has Richard telling us all, as readers, that as a man, he “once dreamed of this, your future breath in prayer” for him as he was lost in clay. But now, after all this time, he is now “forever found.” To some readers, there is a clear spark of recognition here at these words because some of us know about the story in the Bible of the Prodigal Son. We know what happens and how the son “comes to his senses” and returns home to a fully welcoming father. There are words there that remind us that once, Richard was lost, but now, he is found. The poem is meant to make that connection [cf Luke 15 – The Bible].

In all the time he has been hidden from our view, he has “sensed [us] from the backstage of [his] death, as Kings glimpse shadows on a battleground.” What a powerful ending that is! It is the sort of ending that if read correctly, as Mr Cumberbatch did, is meant to bring forth the idea that even in death, we can sense that which is around us, as if in all that time, the missing King has been waiting to be found. And that is how it came about – someone said we should dig in a certain place and when they did, they found a body that matched the DNA of King Richard III of England. It was a once in a million chance and it came off.

What Carol Ann Duffy has done here is produce a piece of work that quite simply gives the King a voice, and it is one that does so in such a unique manner, for it allows us to humanise that which has been dehumanised. Now that is very clever indeed! The King is dead. Long live the King!

RJ March 27th. 2015

Structure Is Everything!

In all my travels as a teacher, I can safely say one thing is true, that structure is everything in your writing. Whether it be a Language and Power essay at A Level, or an essay about a novel at GCSE, structure is everything. It is vital to get your points across in a clear and logical fashion. If you fail to do so, then expect a D grade, or lower.

I have made play of my 5 point essay structure elsewhere on here but the thing actually works. It is one way how to keep to the task and not veer off in a tangent to some other train of thought.

Consider this, for a second. If you are asked to write an essay [on any subject] you would do so, or want to do so, clearly and logically. Hence the need to structure your writing instead of going off half cocked, rambling about anything and/or nothing. A complete waste of your time.

So what if someone asked you to analyse a speech? What if you had to analyse a famous speech, like the I Have A Dream speech from Martin Luther King Jr? Dare you unpick that beauty?

I dare!

This is how:

1. Introduce how the speech is dramatic. Explain that it nearly never came about but for the intervention of the great singer, Mahalia Jackson, who saw MLK flagging somewhat in his speech and yelled “tell em about the dream Martin!” So, he pushed his notes to one side and began with “I HAVE A DREAM!” The rest, as they say, is history. I admire his guts in doing so!

2. Analyse the language – repetition of the word “dream” and how it has differing meanings. Look for ambiguity in meaning. Analyse how he uses the language to great effect.

3. Analyse the audience he was speaking to and if he used appropriate enough language – 1960s black America – the struggles – the history etc. Link to the American Dream [if not sure what this is, where have you been?]

4. Analyse the style of words used by him. Words like “babies” when referring to his children suggest a paternal desire, a need to see improvement and also something else in him; the great preacher. [I too am a preacher and have been for 25 years so know some of the tricks for making hairs stand to attention on necks]

5. Then, a conclusion. Was he successful? MLK’s speech back then is heralded as one of the greatest speeches of all time. I think the answer is yes, he was successful, but allow yourself the freedom to suggest how he may have lost and segregated another audience at the time; the white American who supported him.

By solely concentrating on the black American, was he isolating himself off from the mainstream? This is not even hinted at in the speech but one comment about it and you make your marker [or teacher] THINK!

THAT gets extra points in the exam or in coursework!

So go for it and have that dream, to one day live in a world where getting the A grade is possible. Have that dream today!

Talent Shows – Exam Answer

Here is the exam question from the last paper that when I saw it, I nearly had heart failure in gleeful surprise.

‘Talent shows like The X Factor provide cheap television, gossip and nothing of any value. There are better programmes than these.’ Argue for or against the views expressed in this quotation. Your piece will appear on the entertainment pages of a website.

What follows is how I would have written it, given half the chance to show off and have some fun!

[To be read in a farmyard, yokel voice]

“Oim a farmer from Summerset, me, a rough, tough, lathered aul’d soul who has never seen a television, let alone seen what is on the thoing, so why should I care?”

Right, now that I have got your attention, let me tell you a few things about these so called ‘talent shows.’

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, there lived a man who watched these television shows and loved them. He loved the way that the likes of men called Cowell could act up to the first three letters of their surname and be bullish in their comments to people, who frankly, should have known better than apply to go on the show in the first place. There they were, those ‘Judges,’ sat in their fancy chairs, pontificating over the likes of you and I and making us look ludicrous and the likes of you and I lapped it up. To us, it was entertainment in a life that possibly had little entertainment in it.

But then, after three or four years, these shows like the X Factor and now, with the advent of the BBC show called The Voice, a play on words on the fame of Sir Tom Jones, who can sing, we see the same thing beginning to happen. We see how the originality of the show has gone, leaving with it the sense that next year it will be the same thing all over again. It is this that sticks in my craw. It is this that makes me want to head for the remote button, or in my case, disconnect from mainstream television until the BBC and ITV decide to put something worthwhile on.

I mean, come on folks, The Voice and The X Factor – television for those needing to be drugged out of their already dreary existence? What are we watching these shows for if not to make fun of others or to wish that we had, as Andy Warhol once suggested, our fifteen minutes of fame? Are you watching because you actually want to? If so, you must lead a very dreary life.

Once, I loved these shows, but it is now becoming a case of “the same old same old” each week; Will.i.am paying up to the camera, a new female coach bringing a bit of glitz into proceedings and a group of contestants that frankly, look like they came out of the Dark Ages in places. And we call this entertainment? We have missed the point at some point in our lives I think.

Your commenter stated that “talent shows like The X Factor provide cheap television.” Oh how this is correct. There is little or no value to these shows, just the hope that they bring to a sad, deluded world. Then your commenter said there is nothing but “gossip and nothing of any value.” I have to agree here for as suggested, “there are better programmes than these.”

Once we get past the initial value of seeing someone embarrassed in front of six million viewers, we then see the need to do one thing; switch off. Only then will we begin to grab back some semblance of normality to our weekend viewing, which at one time not a few years ago, was sparkling and excellent, but now, all we see are so called talent shows led by talentless individuals [apart from Sir Tom, who rocks at 74 years of age].

Come on British viewing public, get your finger out and hit that red button!

The Unseen Poem – Nightmare On English Street

There is a thing in the AQA 9715 Lit exam that should alarm students. It is like finding a nest of dangerous spiders inside some bananas and finding they are the world’s deadliest. It is a task that asks a student to write about a poem from an ‘unseen’ perspective. For many, this is the thing they fear, which is why my college taught the 4700 syllabus and not the 4705/9715 option. We did not have to do it.

WJEC do this also and add in their teacher pack a document called ‘Unlocking a Poem,’ which is on this blog. It helps you to try and write something sensible about the poem in question. In last year’s AQA unseen poem question, they chose the Linda Pastan poem, To A Daughter Leaving Home and asked for a response.

This would have been mine, had it asked for me to write about the poem in question.


The poem To A Daughter Leaving Home, by Linda Pastan, immediately makes the reader think of what it must be like for a parent to see their child finally leaving the family home, flying the nest as it were. It is a poem that reflects and shares the joys and the heartaches of being a parent, of bringing up a child seeing them go through formative years and disappear off into the wide unknown, ready and prepared for what life has for them.

Linda Pastan, in one very emotive poem, tells the reader just what it was like for her, referring to a time when a young one learned to ride a bike. The first line is soaked in pain and intensity, for it tells how the parent taught the child “at eight to ride a bicycle,” something a teenager reader may not react to favourably, but an adult learner might.

For example, I can remember taking my son, aged five, to the park with his bike, pushing him, with my hand on the back of the seat, as he squealed off down the lane in the park. As he did so, I can remember saying “you can do this” and letting go after twenty five yards, seeing him wobble and eventually get to grips with the bike. I can remember the look of complete elation on his face as he stopped, turned to me and let out a really throaty growl of satisfaction.

So when I see a poem like this, with the father [or mother indeed] “loping along beside” the child, I remember with fondness these times of joy. But I also remember the pain involved in bringing up a child. Being a father is the hardest job in the world. It is a cliche I know, but true nonetheless. I can remember as my son learnt to ride his bike, how “my own mouth [was] rounding in surprise” as he “pulled ahead down the curved path of the park.” It was a time to cherish and one I can never forget, however old and decrepit I may become.

I, like the parent in the poem, “kept waiting for the thud” as he crashed, but it never came. All the angst beforehand was gone. All the nervousness and build up was now past history and here was my son able to ride off into the sunset on his own. And even if he had crashed “as I sprinted to catch up,” there would still be the pain and the concern in my face, as I worried for his needs.

As he grew up, he moved away from me as a father-son relationship goes and now he lives in a flat in a city fifty miles away, working to better his own life, but I share the memory “while [he] grew smaller, more breakable with distance.” This is a metaphor for life and how it tends to separate us from our loved ones. It is a powerful way to get across the idea that with age comes suffering and pain.

It is this memory, on the bike in the park, where the poet asks us to concentrate our efforts into the young boy, who is “pumping, pumping for [his] life, screaming with laughter,” as his hair flaps in the wind, rather like a flag in the wind. The hair in the poem is described in such a way as to make the reader think of what it will be like for them when their time comes. This sense of saying “goodbye” is prevalent throughout the poem and it is one that challenges us to think of others as we think of ourselves.

It is, in essence, a place where Junior can go to when he needs some time to himself, a club, a solace from the perils of life and one that has to be cherished at all costs; such is the pain and turmoil that can come with moving on in life. This is why this is such a good poem; it is a memory of a time gone by where there has been chance to shine at something as you grow older. It links especially well with Give, by Simon Armitage, in the way that it has the one voice talking, and also with the Clown Punk, as the driver shares a memory from the past. It is therefore, an excellent poem aimed at sharing some of what it is to ride off into the sunset of life.

NB. In the exam, feel free to write about the poem as you have been taught by your teacher, and me, but also add in how the poem fits with other poems in the anthology. Now that is “Brownie Points Time.”