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In other words, a well-prepared commentary will not leave the text on the paper untouched but instead will make a meaningful mess of it.Then, on the basis of this preparation, you should plan your approach to the commentary so that it presents a coherent interpretation, not just a series of unconnected points.
Writing a commentary about a historical document is an exercise in many ways similar to working on a commentary on a passage from prose and poem.
However, in your commentary on a historical document you will need to determine A commentary is an exercise in close and detailed textual analysis.
A brief conclusion to round off your commentary enables you to summarise the way that you have illuminated what the poem or passage is about and how it works.
For students reading texts in the original, points about content can be made without always giving the words in the original language, e.g.
What is the compositional movement through the passage or poem? When you refer to the passage or poem, this should be done clearly and succinctly by reference, for example, to first, second etc. Are there any other tropes – exaggeration, paradox etc.? This may relate to the meaning of the passage or the writer’s general style. This may relate to the meaning of the poem or the poet’s general style.
As you write your commentary you should be looking to illuminate the theme or themes (or mood or emotion) that the passage or poem illustrates and explores. paragraphs or sentences (for prose), to first, second etc. You do not therefore need to quote large sections from the text. When looking at style in terms of lexis and syntax, you should consider what kinds of word are being used and their register. How does the choice of words relate to characterisation? If you are studying the texts in translation, it may be difficult to comment on aspects of style. Are there any other tropes – exaggeration, paradox etc. When dealing with poetry, you should also look at other formal aspects, such as rhyme or sound play, stanza organisation, rhythm and metre, enjambment and internal rhyme (see the separate handout for information on this).
beginning, end, after or before a particular key moment.
This should be concise but sufficient: it may be very relevant to explain how the passage relates to what comes before or after, but do not retell the plot at length.
In this it can be helpful to say something about the mode of the poem and identify its genre or form if you can. This means that an appropriate structure for writing a commentary may be to follow this development.
For example, is it rhetorical, contemplative or close to a song? To do so in an illuminating way will very likely involve paying attention to the compositional structure of the passage or poem: does it divide into sections and, if so, how?