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Brendan Kennelly for Leaving Cert English: Begin

"Begin" by Brendan KennellyYou may also like: 2019 Guide to Leaving Cert English. Full notes on Brendan Kennelly will be made available to everyone who has the 2019 guide, free of charge, as soon as they are ready.

Summary: a philosophical reflection on starting something new again and again communicated through the description of a morning walk across the Grand Canal in Dublin.

Style features:
anaphora (1) (highlighted in bold) adds a sense of determination as does the repetition of the word “begin” throughout the poemenjambment highlights the never ending need to begin again imperative tone, “begin again” is an encouraging command to never give up alliteration e.g. “dying in dark / determination” enhances the imageryreference to familiar places, “Pembroke Road” near the Aviva Stadium in Dublin 4, make the poem more accessibleimagery appeals to multiple senses: “summoning birds”, “sight of the light”, “roar of morning traffic”, “crying birds in the sudden rain”, “branches…

Descriptive Essay: After the Storm for Leaving Cert English #625Lab

‘An ice storm blew in from nowhere.’ Write a descriptive essay entitled ‘After the Storm’.

#625LabBelow is beautifully descriptive essay that is also personal, relatable - and very cozy! What makes it so good? The verbs. Pay attention to the verbs that this author uses. They are all simple Anglo-Saxon (not complicated Latin) action words that flood the text with the energy and freshness of the storm she is describing. Check out the fit and trim sentences with no dependent clause overgrowth. And the more complex sentences all have (near) impeccable punctuation. Simple writing is a real sign of sophistication. Great work, A.! (My only criticism is that it could do with being a tad longer, maybe 10-20%.) 

Some people try to write a descriptive short story, but it's very difficult to do that given that you have 1000-1200 words to develop a plot and make it beautiful. All that ends up happening is that the plot gets buried and nobody knows what's going on. This essay is more of a present moment meditation, just like this stellar one, and I feel that this is a great approach to take in the Leaving Cert. This is another favourite of mine that has a little more of a plot. You may also like: Complete Guide to Leaving Cert English (€)

I wake to the gentle sound of pattering on my window. My favourite sound. Ever. I imagine tiny droplets of rain pecking my window with kisses, hundreds at a time. I stretch and twist and squirm out of bed, stimulating my muscles. It’s time to get up! Feeling like the ultimate ‘nerd’ or ‘geek’, I pull open my blinds with excitement. White light bursts through my room. Outside is a dull, grey, mono-tonal scene. Gushes and streams of water flood my back garden, making the concrete structures a darker charcoal colour and the grass a brownish-sludge, as the mud underneath it loosens. The only vibrancy in sight is my next-door neighbour’s swing set and plastic, primary-coloured slide. Although, the reds and yellows and blues seem duller than before now, somehow. I watch through my window for quite some time. It fascinates me - the rain.

I pull my soft, warm robe over me and slide into my slippers. Unhurried, I trod down the stairs, relaxed by the weather outside. I always found it weird how much I liked the rain and how much others didn't. People ramble on about the sun and it’s scorching waves endlessly. Don’t get me wrong, I love feeling warm - hence my fluffy gown and slippers, but the sun bores me. It shines and shines and shines. Period. It causes more bad than good. It gives you red-hot sunburn - not to mention the variety of skin cancers that come from it’s lethal, fiery rays. It has no mercy. Before going outside, you must lather on copious amounts of sun lotion and then wait twenty excruciatingly slow minutes for it to sink in. By that time, my urge to go out has passed and a cloud has come along and blocked the sun. I forget why I even bothered. With the rain, I step outside instantly. No precautions. (Okay, maybe a rain jacket, but what harm is a little water going to cause you?) (This argumentative bit isn't really very descriptive, but it's not that long, so not a huge issue.)

I make myself some breakfast and some warm tea as I think this. Afterwards, I plonk myself down on the sofa, my breakfast bagel in one hand and mug in the other. Absentmindedly, I turn on the television. I take one glance outside again through my living room window and I am transfixed. I could stare all day as the trees sway like dancers enjoying nature’s forces. Outside is free from people. I assume these are the sun-lovers hiding inside for cover from the ‘horrible’ rain. The occasional person runs out from their front door, trying to avoid the puddles and potholes in the path to their car. Briefcases over their heads for use as an umbrella; it is quite a funny sight. 

My raggedy, off-white dog, Coco, moans at me to give her attention. She wants to go for a walk. That’s one thing we have in common - a love for walks and bad weather. Moments later, I see a ferocious dark-grey cloud cover the sky as if to say to the other lighter clouds, ‘I’m taking over now.’ Coco and I watch in anticipation - but also fear - for what’s to come. This mammoth cloud makes it inevitable to be scared of them. He shoots down heavy droplets and this time there is more of them. Millions upon millions at a time, they attack the ground beneath. They soon turn solid, into hailstones. One ought to smash my window into pieces at the speed and force they come down at. 

I turn back to the television and snuggle up with Coco in front of a movie. Throughout the film, I have to turn the volume up because of the racket outside. Thunder decides to join in on the symphony and I’m nearly going deaf. The TV seems to be making only a whisper of sound. Lightning starts splitting the sky every few minutes and by this point I give up on my movie. The clouds, hail, thunder and lightning all seem to be in a magnificent chorus. A chorus which the trees and bushes must love as they continue to rock back and forth. A chorus that would put Beethoven to shame.

An hour or so passes. One minute I see this dark-coloured masterpiece through my window, and the next, the sun comes out. It bursts through the clouds so quickly and so eager. ‘Of course, you always have to steal the show, don’t you?’, I think to myself. Everything returns to its original colour. I look around and see everything - the cars, the lampposts, the front doors - all look brand new. Another element of the rain I absolutely adore. It washes away all the dirt and grime so well that everything looks new, reborn almost. I immediately run upstairs, taking two steps at a time, while Coco leaps excitedly. We are going outside.

I bury myself in my winter coat and step outside with Coco. I am hit with that pang of wetness. The smell that is left after a massive storm like the one I’ve just witnessed. I think you may have guessed already, but this is one of my favourite scents. If there were candles made of this scent I would put them all over my house and burn them for eternity. This smell, the cold air and the sense of rejuvenation invigorate my body. I feel fresh like everything around me. All my cares vanish and I am optimistic. About what, I don't know. But I am ready for whatever is to come. This. This is after the storm. I am new.

Descriptive Essay: After the Storm for Leaving Cert English

Another essay by the same title. The descriptive language is 100%, but there is a presumption of a plot that leaves the reader with lots to store in their RAM, as if we're about to find out more about the setting of the storm, the damage done, whether the speaker will survive, etc. There is a lot of tension here that never really gets resolved.

The storm had been raging like a wild beast for days on end. It had transformed my pristine painted sailboat into a shadow of its former self. I searched desperately through the piercing blue horizon for a refuge. As if from nowhere a sandy island emerged from the salty haze of wind and fog.

I fumbled madly as I stood up and tried to find my footing. My boat swayed and rocked from the rough, wild waves that lay beneath it. Gingerly, I dipped one toe into the sharply cold water. I took my brave leap of faith and plunged full force into the blue abyss. The water rushed and circled around my head with its salt seeping into my fiercely shut eyes. Flailing my arms desperately, I managed to bring my head above water. It seemed to me that the serene, still waters I once knew had been forever changed by the storm. 

Each stroke I took brought me an inch closer to my refuge. Yet once I made too much progress the cruel waved threw me back with a vengeance. I fought back with all my might against the ocean's power. I could feel my body grow weak while the howling wind pointed at my ears. Just when I began to feel my tired arms give out I sensed the sweet feeling of land beneath me.

I sensed a surge of energy rush through my veins when the waves began to subside around me. Soon my breaths became smoother. Each step I took brought with it a new sense of ease and certainty. The miniscule island was now an imminent destination. The closer I became to the island the more intense the blasting rays of sunlight became. How distant the dark and stormy days felt at that moment. The feeling of its intensity on my head reached a climax once I stepped foot on the island.

Drawing my foot across the dry, untouched sand brought me the feeling of entering the peace of heaven itself. Maybe on this new land I can finally put the horrors of the storm in my past. I peered down at my bruised feet, they had been battered by the storms brutality. I remarked upon the chipped burgundy nail polish on my toenails. The storm had taken away my former love for my appearance. I pondered the memory of that old me who took pride in herself. The storm has taken her forever.

I then noticed the open gash spreading across my left foot. While crouching down to inspect my wound. I ran my finger across it, causing me to wince once I felt the sharp sting of pain much like a bolt of electricity.

My body was so weak that this intense pain caused me to fall flat on the sand. I gazed up at the intense white halo of sun. Its heat fell across me causing me to break out in sweat. I dragged my hand along my forehead slick with sweat as I rolled over to my side in a vain effort to escape the sun’s rays. With my nose almost touching the golden sand I could smell the salty odour it produced. 

It seemed as though the natural elements on this island were awakening after the storm had passed. A tiny, white crab scuttled into my field of vision. I could hear its little feet scrape across the sand. My sublime state of concentration on the crab was quickly shattered by the sonorous birdcall overhead. Wearily I turned my head to look at the birds as they soared freely across the sky. The birds flew in tandem with one another, with the grace and elegance of a team of synchronised swimmers. They moved with a sense of passion, as if it was the first time they had ever flown. Perhaps the storm had caged them from their daily flight.

I lay motionless on the rough sand for some time. The hours dissolved into each other while I watched the sky fade from a baby blue to a dim aqua dotted with flurries of cloud. This blue was soon replaces with a dazzling saffron as the sun sank deeper into the horizon. Then I shut my eyes and listened to the comforting sound of crickets nearby. Later my eyes were greeted by the vast multitude of glimmering stars that illuminated the charcoal sky. It was this still sight that allowed me to finally accept that the storm had well and truly subsided. Only then could I slip into the grips of a sound sleep.

My slumber was crudely cut short by the chilled seawater that had begun to lap at my feet. This became my signal to force myself to stand on my own two feet. I stood at the water’s edge as it pooled around my feet. Gone was the cutting winds of the storm, it was gone. I was then surrounded by the warm embrace of the sun. I knelt down to splash the fresh saltwater to my face. The sudden shock of cold provided me with a sense of hope. My memories of the storm lay behind me, nature was at peace once more.

Photo by reza shayestehpour on Unsplash

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