Analyzing Poetic Form
This paper will be a bit different from the previous two essay assignments. You will not be given multiple prompts to choose between. Instead, there is one prompt that can be applied to a poem you will select from a short list provided. In this assignment, you will analyze a poem’s meaning or impact on its audience through examining the form, sounds, and meter of the poem. Like with previous assignments, your thesis needs to be argumentative. It should be something two reasonable adults can debate.
What you should do:
1. Read the chosen poem and come up with an argumentative thesis
2. Ask yourself these questions: what are the intentions of the poet; who is the speaker; what rhetorical purpose might the poem serve; what does the poem tell you, the reader, about the author, about literature, about a specific topic, or about life in general. Focus on ONE of these in your argument.
3. Make your argument through an examination of the poem’s form, use of sounds, rhyme, and meter.
4. Ask yourself these questions: how does the poem’s form impact its meaning or purpose; how does the sounds used in the poem reinforce this meaning; where does the poem’s meter fit into all of this.
What you should NOT do:
1. Create a factual, bland thesis (you cannot argue a fact, so you cannot argue “this poem is a sonnet” for example. That is not a thesis).
2. Do NOT simply focus on the form, sound, and so on while foregoing how it relates to the poem’s meaning or purpose.
3. Do NOT attempt to talk about more than one poem. Choose only one. This paper should be three full pages minimum, and you should incorporate quotation from the poem to support your claims, as well as from at least one secondary source (scholarly in nature). This quotation needs to be cited using MLA—think of the way you used citations in ENG 105. It should also include a Works Cited page that lists the work(s) from which you quoted. The format needs to also follow MLA standard, edition 8. Use your MLA handbooks.
List of poems you may choose:
Thomas, “Do Not Go Gentle…” (922)
Bishop, “Sestina” (923)
Cummings, “[I(a]” (926)
Shakespeare, “[My mistress’ eyes…]” (933)
Cullen, “Yet do I Marvel” (1041)
Hughes, “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” (1044)
Dylan, “The Times They Are A-Changin’” (891)
Randell, “Ballad of Birmingham” (887)
If there is another poem you wish to use, please run it by me first.