Paper 1

Be sure to consult this prompt throughout your writing process.
Your first paper will be on the short lyric poem “Merciless Beauty.” Read it over carefully, looking for specific words that you find especially interesting. In this paper, you will examine a Middle English word and its relationship to the poem in which it appears. Once you have chosen a few possible words, visit the Middle English Dictionary (MED) to look them up: (Links to an external site.) (Links to an external site.)

Once you’ve learned about your favorite words, choose one to be the focus of your paper. Pick a word that you find interesting and that will allow you to make good points about its relationship to the rest of the poem. An excellent paper will make an argument about this word, its importance to the poem, and the way that it helps you to understand something about the poem that you did not see before. Think about the unexpected meanings of your word. How might such an unexpected meaning of a word in the poem help you to see the poem in a new way? In constructing your argument, consider the different meanings of the word and also (very important) how your word contributes to the form of the poem. Is it repeated? Where and why? What does it rhyme with? What relationship is being created with those rhyming words? What words or images is it contrasted with? What surprises you about the way the word is used?