Poetry Analysis

Poetry Analysis Report (15% of Course Grade)

Deadline: Thursday, March 8, by 1:00 PM

Late Policy: ½ letter grade deduction per calendar day (see syllabus)

The Canvas Drop Box for this assignment will remain open through March 15.

Required Length: 1,000+ Words (you should exceed this word count)

Required Format: MLA (see Document Submission Guidelines)

The subject of your report must be a poem from our textbook (see below) to receive a grade. This assignment is closed research—any use of quoted material or resources other than the poem and course notes will be considered as off-topic and not relevant to this assignment. Evidence of plagiarism will result in an automatic zero for this grade and disciplinary action (see syllabus).

This Report assignment asks you to choose a poem and then analyze how the different technical components, formal features, and poetic devices interact in the poem to create meaning. This report is not an essay, but it is similar to a “Process Analysis” paper since it explains how the parts of a literary work function as a whole. In this way, the Report is a test of your literary appreciation and interpretation.

*Note that all poems are different. Depending on the poem that you choose, your report may have to emphasize certain components and, in some cases, omit certain components from discussion. For example, section three challenges you to write about figurative language devices (such as similes, metaphors, symbols, etc.) But you might choose a poem that doesn’t use any of these devices. You should tailor this report to fit the selected poem.

**Don’t waste time on empty statements. “The poem flows smoothly,” and “I didn’t notice much of a structure here,” for example, are only statements that indicate that you should have chosen a more manageable poem or spent more time on the assignment.

You may write your report as a series of paragraphs that answer the given questions, but remember that this assignment is designed for you to apply some of the practical and interpretive skills that we have been covering in the Homework and Discussion assignments. You will be graded on the following criteria:

· Elaborateness – each of the responses must answer the question to the full extent of your knowledge; be thorough. Use examples when appropriate. Make sure that you respond to everything asked in the prompt. Include quotations and page numbers.

· Precision (and Grammar) – choose your words carefully so that your statement gives an exact and specific response to the prompt (avoid vague words and phrases)—this will demonstrate your comprehension of the related poetic concepts. Proofread your work before you submit the assignment to correct mistakes in spelling, punctuation, capitalization, and grammar.

· Insight – your responses should build upon existing ideas and knowledge gained from previous readings and Discussions. Read the prompts and assignments carefully so that you provide a thoughtful answer. Strive for depth and complexity (not just a simple, fact-based response).

As a graded assignment, this report is intended to test your interpretive skills, so put course notes and exercises to good use in your writing. As mentioned above, using any kind of outside reference material will be considered as off-topic. Build your ideas organically, from what the poem (itself) conveys to you.

· Originality – when requested, give your honest opinion or evaluation; be critical when appropriate.

You should write this Analysis Report for the following readers: people who have already read the analyzed poem (and have immediate access to it), but who would like to understand the poem better.

Your purpose here is to explain, not evaluate. Avoid statements that refer to whether or not you like the poem, whether or not the poem or the poet “does a good job” at something, whether or not the poem is beautiful, etc.

Choose any poem from The Norton Introduction to Literature (Portable Twelfth Edition), but with the following restrictions:

· You must choose a poem that we have not covered (those 10 poems are off-limits).

· You must choose a poem that is at least 12 lines long (lines are defined in the glossary on page A8)

· You must not choose the poem “On Her Loving Two Equally” (Behn) (the textbook already includes analysis of this poem)

If you need extra guidance or some selection assistance, please contact me and I’ll be glad to help! However, if you have not purchased the 12th Edition of the textbook, you are solely responsible for finding out if a chosen poem is in this edition or not. It would be dishonest for me to help students find loopholes in the course requirements, so you should not ask me about this.

Section One (1 long paragraph): Introduction, Theme, and Personal Statement

At the top of the page, along with the title that you give your report, give the name of the poem, the name of the poet, and the page on which the poem appears in the textbook.

Describe and discuss what you see as the overall Theme in the poem. Name this theme and write a few sentences discussing this idea, as an idea. Remember that themes are complete ideas, and not just the naming of some subject like “love” or “family.” Make sure that your writing offers an explanation that represents the complexities of this poem’s conception of the world.

You should review the course material from Session Five as you write this; determining a theme may start with impressions and associative thinking, but it must become something that you reason through.

In the same paragraph (or a separate paragraph), explain why you chose this poem: personal reasons that drew you to this particular poem. What feelings, experiences, or connections does the poem evoke in you? Or if you prefer to focus on less personal matters, what do you appreciate about this poem, from an objective standpoint on its meaning and aesthetics? What are the formal qualities that drew you to this poem, how did they catch your attention, and why did they impact your thinking so much?

*Hint: draft this paragraph first—as soon as you choose your poem and before you start doing all the technical work. Students frequently find that after composing this part of the response, the rest of the work is easier to complete.

Section Two (3-4 long paragraphs): Syntax, Internal Structure, Situation, and Imagery

In the first class session, we studied syntax the study of word organization or word order within a phrase or sentence or line. Go back and review your notes, the instructional readings, and the lecture material for this component because your first prompt is to examine the syntax in the poem that you choose. All poems are different, but some syntax-related questions that apply to all poems are as follows. What literal statements does the poem make and how does it form these statements in words? What kinds of phrases and sentences are these? How do the phrases and sentences form patterns? Does the syntax obey the rules of grammar? What variations occur to these patterns? How does punctuation and case contribute to the syntax?

If you choose a poem that does not occur in actual sentences (or has no punctuation), you’re still obligated to discuss the way that the poem creates phrases and statements.

Next, describe and discuss the internal structure of the poem. To prepare notes for this, review your notes on architecture and design with your chosen poem so that you can examine the internal framework and the way that the poem unfolds. If it helps your explanation, describe the poem as a kind of “shape” (with an eye for balance and proportion). As you discuss this structure, make references to stanzas, line breaks, indentation spaces, variations in line length, gaps of information, etc. as reference points for the design you perceive.

Next, discuss the situation of the poem, starting with the physical space and time that the poem covers. Be thorough. Pay particular attention to the way in which time changes (expands and diminishes). This part of the report also includes an accurate summary of occurrences (the “knowns”). And as you know from session one, poems and poetic language often seeks to depict the world of experiences and feelings, so be precise here to account for psychological factors (and the “unknowns”).

Finally, based on your response for situation, describe and discuss any (or all) pertinent instances of imagery that occur in the poem. Explain how these instances contribute to the situation, and remember that imagery refers to ALL FIVE SENSES.

Section Three (3-4 long paragraphs): Speaker, Tone, Diction, and Figurative Language Devices

Section Two examines the CORE components of your chosen poem. Section Three examines the contributing components. Depending on your chosen poem, you may combine paragraphs as long as you address what’s necessary.

First, describe and discuss the speaker of the poem. Try not to repeat information from your coverage of the situation, so that your writing focuses more on the persona of the speaker and the communication context the speaker creates. Remember that analyzing the speaker in any given poem is to separate this voice from an autobiographical stance. Instead, focus on the lifestage or passage that the speaker is revealing.

Second (or at the same time), describe and discuss the tone of the poem. Remember that for this component, your writing should focus on the cumulative attitude or feeling communicated by the poem, itself. This often both encompasses the speaker’s attitude, and any ambivalence, but also extends to an overall mood. And since tone engages the readers’ ongoing assumptions and expectations, describe how the tone carries into the internal structure of the poem, if necessary.

Third (or at the same time), examine the diction in the poem for the ways it conveys the tone. Pay close attention to key words on account of their denotative or connotative value. Depending upon your choice of poem and the discussion of tone, choose about two specific words for this part of your report.

Finally, and depending upon your choice of poem, examine and discuss any key instances of simile, metaphor, personification, and symbolism that occur. Your report should explain how these examples of figurative language contribute to the tone or the persona of the speaker.

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