The poem English Book by Jane Weir

Categories: EnglishPoems

What do you think the poet is saying about some teachers of English and the way they mark a trainee’s book in the poem “English Book” by Jane Dam? How does the poet present her viewpoints? (18 marks) Jane Weir seems extremely unimpressed by the method her child’s English teacher marks his book. She is explaining her see to a Moms and dads’ Evening and begins by plunging directly in with the pronoun ‘they’ to begin the poem in the middle of the assessment.

The first two lines express her surprise that they appear untouched by their years ‘in a class’, all sitting ‘upright’ and properly to meet the mom.

She lists the procedures that teachers have to go through and the words ‘or so they state’ recommend she has little respect for ‘the current thinking’ or belief in the criminal checks that are made to secure kids. One specific teacher, probably the boy’s English teacher, reveals the mom his English book, her eyes revealing ‘a length of pity’ that the kid’s spelling, punctuation and basic discussion are so weak.

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The mother is appalled that his writing has actually been ‘butchered’ by the instructor’s red pen.

The instructor has really little understanding that (according to the mom) she is eliminating the kid’s creativity by concentrating so much on his technical mistakes. The poet, probably composing from real experience, can not get the instructors to comprehend that her son has capability with words which they are disliking or encouraging his ideas.

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The entire poem has plenty of images. The instructors are compared to books: ‘they bear no tide mark’ and have ‘best spinal columns’ most likely unlike the condition of the workout book that the mom is about to be shown.

Later on metaphors (lines 13 to 15) seem to describe fabrics, in the same method that Jane Dam weaves fabric imagery into her poem ‘Poppies’ – ‘selvedge’, ‘present’ ‘flecked with heartfelt’ – perhaps to reveal the scenario from a woman’s viewpoint. The mom is certainly extremely mad at the way her son’s written work has been dealt with and an extended metaphor compares the instructor’s marking to the violent acts of a butcher decreasing a carcass to swellings of bloody meat.

Red punctuation marks have chopped up his words; circles around his misspelt words are ‘nooses’ to hang his confidence; ‘her pen’ is ‘an axe’ to destroy his sentence structures. The resulting page is ‘piled with offal’. After the butchering, only the inedible (unreadable) parts are left, nevertheless the mother believes her son is very intelligent. She sees ‘the oracle in his entrails’ and ‘the jazz /of his sequencing’ would seem to describe a lively imagination at work.

From the mother’s point of view the excessive emphasis on the importance of technical accuracy is harming the boy and the teacher makes little effort to listen to the mother’s concerns or to see anything worth praising in the boy’s writing. Described metaphorically as ‘a starved lion-cub waiting for a word kill’, this final image presents a child, waiting hungrily to experience and enjoy language, but being ‘starved’ by a teacher who cannot see ‘what beats at (the) centre’ of his writing.

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The poem English Book by Jane Weir. (2017, Nov 01). Retrieved from

The poem English Book by Jane Weir

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