Unseen Poetry - The Fist - 2013 Sample Answer

Sample Answer

2013

Section 3 - Unseen Poem

The Fist

The fist clenched round my heart

loosens a little, and I gasp

brightness; but it tightens

again. When have I ever not loved

the pain of love? But this has moved

past love to mania. This has the strong

clench of the madman, this is

gripping the ledge of unreason, before

plunging howling into the abyss.

Hold hard then, heart. This way at least you live.

    • Derek Walcott
  1. (a) Walcott expresses powerful emotions in this poem. Choose one emotion present in the poem and briefly explain how it is conveyed. Make reference to the text in support of your answer.

(b) Write a brief personal response to the final line of the poem. “Hold hard then, heart. This way at least you live”. Support your answer with reference to the poem.

OR

  1. Discuss the poet’s use of language in “The Fist”. Your answer should make close reference to the text.

Below are A2 sample answers to this question. The students are clearly familiar with the different poetic techniques, and how to analyse a poem. The students are also able to write at length about their opinions and thoughts. So why didn’t they get the A1? See in the comments how the student made simple mistakes that are easily rectified.

1.

a) Walcott expresses powerful emotions in this poem. Choose one emotion present in the poem and briefly explain how it is conveyed. Make reference to the text in support of your answer. (10 marks)

When I first read this poem, I was quick to say that love is the most powerful emotion present. On a

deeper analysis of the poem, it would seem that this is a twisted, broken version of love, and as such

it is a far more interesting portrayal. Walcott approaches the wild and painful elements of

unrequited love in this poem, relaying how it has twisted his mind, and describing the physical pain

he feels as a result. “The fist clenched round my heart loosens a little, and I gasp brightness; but it

tightens again”.

When I read the pain and mania the poet attaches to his feelings of love, it makes me t...

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