Below, you will find the poetry essay that received a B-A grade with a teacher’s feedback.
Based on the poem “The Planners” by Boey Kim Cheng, explain the tension between progress and history.
The poem “The Planners” makes use of a variety of literary devices to show the strong tension between progress and history. This poem likewise has a wide variety of tones over its whole to show the speaker’s attitude towards the planners who are destroying the past while developing the city. Both bewailing and accusing undertones predominate throughout. In the sentence “They plan, They build, All spaces are gridded,” the pronoun “They” refers to the people who construct the city. The opening line of the poem reveals that the setting is well arranged, which gives it an unnatural appearance. The phrase “They” alludes to the people responsible for planning, and the use of this
term several times reveals a certain level of resentment at the individuals in question. The term “gridded” has been brought forward by the planners as a desirable option. It also defines the layout of the city, which is very congested and confined. The next stanza includes the term “permutation of possibilities,” which emphasizes that there are a variety of possible approaches to making the cities ideal. Additionally, the alliteration of the letter ‘P’ shows that the permutation of possibilities is almost unlimited. The third line, which reads “The buildings are in line with the road,” helps to bolster the impression of a well-planned environment and flawlessly executed urban development. The angry tones of the line “They build and will not stop.” are emphasized by the repetition of the phrase “thy build.” The term “they will not stop” demonstrates that the planners are being driven insane by their unquenchable appetite for construction and their own inflated feeling of power. It is shown that even nature is willing to submit to the planners, who are attempting to exert control over everything, even nature.
The words “Even the sea draw back/and the skies surrender” also convey the impression that the poet is experiencing a great deal of melancholy. The image of the heavens withdrawing because they were unable to stand up to the strength of the planners is conveyed by the personification of the term “skies surrender,” which creates the impression that the skies are giving up. The poet makes use of various sarcastic terms in the second stanza to illustrate what the planners are doing to the history and nature of the country. The poet utilizes just a limited number of metaphors in the first three lines of this stanza. According to the planners, the poet refers to the past and history as having “flaws,” which may represent an individual’s identity, which is something that is extremely essential. The poet makes the suggestion that the planners “blemishes the past, knock of useless blocks” These seemingly pointless obstacles may also serve as a source of one’s own identity. In addition, the history of the people is ignored, and it is considered as an unfavorable circumstance for them, despite the fact that this may not be the case in reality. The next four lines suggest that the planners made the flawed past perfect, making it as perfect as the production of teeth, in which all gaps are filled in. This comparison is drawn because of the similarities between the two processes. This lends credence to the idea that the planners managed to perfect the past. The expression “the country wears perfect rows of shining teeth” is an extended metaphor for the idea of “dental dexterity,” which refers to the deliberate effort to mold everything into one ideal form, thereby eliminating all distinct identities.
The phrase “the country wears perfect rows of shining teeth” is a metaphor for the concept of “dental dexterity.” The poet is attempting to make a sarcastic point about how lovely the environment is that the planners have built by drawing a connection between the structures and the dental body. The poet likens the method by which the planners’ advances are made to “anesthesia,” in which the memories of the past are dulled to “amnesia,” in which the history is erased and to “hypnosis,” in which they control the people and make them believe the fabricated surroundings of the people. When the poet composed these three lines, there was an overwhelming feeling of fury aimed against the planners. The poet is exceedingly down on himself due to the fact that he was unable to do anything to prevent the planners from ruining the country’s history which is now at a huge tension. He feels powerless about himself. This is expressed in the words “they have the means./they have it all so it will not hurt,” which show the poet’s tremendous disappointment in himself. As a result, the poet has an overwhelming feeling of loss as a result of this. The line that follows it, which states “so history is new again,” may also contribute to the feeling of melancholy that the readers get from reading it. Many things, including history, were lost as a consequence of the progress made by the planners. The fact that “the drilling goes right through/the fossils of the last century” is evidence that even history is at risk of being destroyed. The poet compared the passage of time to the disintegration of a fossil to illustrate the concept of the past. The poet must have had some resentment for the planners. The poet feels an enormous amount of remorse and sadness toward himself, which is conveyed in the last stanza of the poem by the phrase “but my heart would not bleed poetry.” This is due to the fact that the poet lacked the ability to stop the urban planners from destroying the past while all of the urban development was taking place, which is why he was unable to stop it. The poem is consequently about the never-ending progress of the country at the expense of different things, such as the history of the country being eradicated, and nature having to bow to human control in order to achieve perfection. Therefore there is a huge tension between history and progress and this mean that the planners are getting rid of the history of the country which should not be the case.
Band 6 17/25 borderline A/B grade
• demonstrates knowledge by supporting it with careful and relevant references to the text (AO1)
• shows a clear understanding of the text and some of its deeper implications (AO2)
• makes a developed response to the way the writer achieves her/his effects (AO3)
• makes a well-developed, detailed and relevant personal response (AO4)
This essay has a lot of deep sensitive ideas and understands the purpose of the poem well, as well as looking deeply at the wider themes and concerns (AO2). It uses evidence and analysis structures to assess the language precisely, often linking the language to specific techniques (AO3). The academic register and vocabulary level are quite advanced, as are the writer’s personal thoughts and responses to the message of the poem (AO1/AO4). However, the main issue with the essay is structuring – it feels like a series of separate thoughts or points, without any cohesion into a clear argument. There are too many small paragraphs on separate ideas, whereas there should be larger paragraphs which analyse single points (topic sentences) more deeply through a range of quotations. Context should also ideally be included.
Thanks for reading! If you’re studying the CAIE IGCSE Songs of Ourselves Volume 1, Part 4 collection, you can find the complete course by clicking here. This course gives you a full breakdown of the poems in the 2023-2025 CAIE / Cambridge IGCSE and O-Level Poetry Anthology!