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The purpose of this assignment is to demonstrate your ability to use formal aspects of poetry in interpretation.
Step 1: choose two poems that you have been assigned to read this semester that you think either SHARE a theme or take an INTERESTINGLY DIFFERENT approach to a theme.
So, you could choose two poems that are about struggling for freedom, where one is about giving up, whereas the other is more about persevering. Or you could choose two of our poems that are skeptical about romantic love and examine how each conveys that idea. If you’ve done all the reading, you have lots of poems to choose from, including ones I assigned but that we didn’t have a chance to discuss in class.
Really, you can build any kind of thematic bridge you like: poems that show ambivalence about family life; poems that are about being a poet – there are plenty of comparisons to do. If you’re stuck for a topic, just ask and I can try to help.
In order to make a statement about the poem’s theme, you will want to discuss the speaker, and look at some images, but most importantly you MUST discuss the use of form. So:
Choose elements of any TWO of the three formal strategies below, and compare how the two poems employ them in the service of the theme.
A Line: How do the poems use end stopping? Or enjambment? Short or long lines? Variations of line length?
B Sound: How does they use consonance, assonance, rhyme?
C Meter: does either use metrical uniformity and/or variation?
So, for example, you could discuss consonance and line length; or enjambment and assonance; or end-stopping and rhyme. In each case you must be able to say what the particular example of a formal strategy you’re analyzing adds an additional layer of meaning to the denotation and connotation of the words, and thus contributes to your understanding of the theme. You must do this by correctly incorporating direct quotes into your essay text, and making detailed analytical statements about the quotes.
In your conclusion, focus on explaining what you learned about these poems by doing this comparison – how their differences and similarities shed light on one another.
There is no reason to include outside sources in this paper. If you do draw on outside reading, you must cite your source correctly or risk receiving a zero. I am happy to help you with doing that correctly, if it comes up.
Papers that do not respond directly to this prompt will receive a zero. An F, that is, a paper that tries and fails, is a 50, so, you do the math. The math is clear, and yet people do turn in weird stuff they find online and hope for the best. Please don’t.
Your essay will be judged on the following:
Correct identification of formal elements in the poem
Complete explanation of how each example contributes to understanding of the theme of the poem being discussed
Technically correct use of evidence, i.e. quotations correctly integrated, punctuated, cited
Use of standard essay structure, including a thesis statement responding to the prompt, and complete paragraphs with topic sentences
Correct use of English for Academic Purposes, including grammar and syntax