in CIE, English Literature, Essay Technique, Writing Skills

These questions are all based on the Cambridge (CIE) IGCSE Literature questions that you can find in specimen papers and past papers for Paper 1: Poetry and Prose (0475/01).

I have adapted the wording to suit a range of themes and focal points. I’d recommend planning as many of them as you can so that you get a lot of practise organising your thoughts. Aim to write at least 2-3 full essays before your exams, not including mock exams that are set in schools. If possible, get feedback on your essays too so that you know where you’re doing well and areas that can be improved. 


Thanks for reading! If you find this page useful, you can find more help and support with English and Writing on our website here:

CIE IGCSE Poetry course

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Essay Questions:

Caged Bird — Maya Angelou

  1. How does Angelou explore the theme of freedom in this poem?
  2. Explore how Angelou’s writing has a deeper political message in “Caged Bird”. 

Sonnet 43 — Elizabeth Barrett Browning 

  1. How does Barrett Browning explore the theme of love in this poem?
  2. Examine the ways in which Barret Browning presents relationships in “Sonnet 43”.

Farmhand — James K Baxter

  1. In what ways does Baxter vividly create a portrait of the Farmhand in this poem? 
  2. Explore the ways in which Baxter movingly portrays the difficulties of youth in “Farmhand”. 

Muliebrity — Sujata Bhatt

  1. How does Bhatt strikingly portray ideas about womanhood in “Muliebrity”? 
  2. In what ways does Bhatt movingly create a picture of the girl in “Muliebrity”? 
  3. Explore the ways in which Bhatt uses powerful words and images in “Muliebrity”. 

Plenty — Isobel Dixon

  1. How does the poet explore ideas about parenting in “Plenty”?
  2. Explore how Dixon presents the theme of childhood in “Plenty”.

The Three Fates — Rosemary Dobson

  1. Examine the ways in which Dobson strikingly depicts the idea of fate in the poem. 
  2. In what ways does Dobson vividly create feelings of sadness and regret in “The Three Fates”? 

Those Winter Sundays — Robert Hayden

  1. In what ways does the poet strikingly express his relationship with his father in “Those Winter Sundays”?
  2. How does Hayden movingly depict his experience of youth in “Those Winter Sundays”?

Mid-Term Break — Seamus Heaney

  1. Examine the ways in which Heaney powerfully explores feelings of loss and grief in “Mid-Term Break”? 
  2. How does Heaney strikingly depict moments of maturity in “Mid-Term Break”?
  3. How does Heaney movingly explore relationships in the poem? 

Little Boy Crying — Mervyn Morris

  1. Explore the ways in which Morris’ words and images create feelings of sadness in “Little Boy Crying”. 
  2. How does Morris make memories so vivid in “Little Boy Crying”?
  3. In what ways does Morris make “Little Boy Crying” such a powerful poem about relationships?

Rising Five — Norman Nicholson

  1. How does Nicholson movingly depict the process of growing up in “Rising Five”? 
  2. Explore the ways in which Nicholson portrays connections between the human and natural world in “Rising Five”. 

Amends — Adrienne Rich

  1. Comment closely on ways in which the poet uses imagery in “Amends”.
  2. How does Rich create a sense of peace and reconciliation in “Amends”? 
  3. In what ways does Rich strikingly portray the interaction between humans and the natural world in “Amends”? 
  4. How does Rich make the description of moonlight so powerful in the poem?

Sonnet 29 — Edna St Vincent Millay

  1. How does Millay strikingly convey feelings of unrequited (one-sided) love in “Sonnet 29”? 
  2. In what ways does Millay explore powerful emotions in “Sonnet 29”?

Marrysong — Dennis Scott

  1. Explore the ways in which Scott uses powerful words and images in “Marrysong”. 
  2. How does Scott strikingly depict marriage in “Marrysong”? 
  3. Examine the ways in which Scott explores feelings about relationships in “Marrysong”. 

Not Waving But Drowning — Stevie Smith 

  1. How does Smith create a sense of the unexpected in “Not Waving But Drowning”? 
  2. How does Smith movingly convey powerful emotions in “Not Waving But Drowning”? 

She Dwelt Among Untrodden Ways — William Wordsworth

  1. How does Wordsworth create a moving and affectionate portrait of the girl in “She Dwelt Among Untrodden Ways”? 
  2. Explore the ways in which Wordsworth uses powerful imagery in “She Dwelt Among Untrodden Ways”.

Thanks for reading! If you find this page useful, you can find more help and support with English and Writing on our website here:

CIE IGCSE Poetry course

Basic Essay Writing

Academic Skills

Check out our post on Past Paper Poetry Questions for CIE IGCSE

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