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A Literary Curriculum Planning Sequence for Night Mail

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KS: LKS2 / UKS2, Upper KS2

Year Group: Year 6

Author(s): W H Auden

Main Outcomes:

Analysis of form and structure, innovated version with similar form and structure but different content

Overview and Outcomes:

This is a two-week planning sequence using the poem ‘Night Mail’, which was written in 1936 to accompany the documentary film of the same year and the same title. The film depicted a London, Midland, and Scottish Railway (LMS) mail train travelling from London to Scotland. It was produced by GPO Film Unit, directed by Harry Watt and Basil Wright, and narrated by John Grierson and Stuart Legg. Auden’s poem was read toward the end of the film, set to music by Benjamin Britten. Lines were chopped and changed to fit the film. The intention of the film was to show the public how the mail was distributed by train. The rhythm of the film matches the train’s movement. Auden apparently used a stopwatch as he set the lines to the film. The form of the poem is made up of eight rhymed, four-beat couplets.

Synopsis of Text:

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