Short Story Essay/ Major Writing

In an essay of approximately 650-700 words (2.5-3 pages/12 point font/double spaced) write anargument advancing an interpretation (claim) of one of the poems from your readings. Selectone of the following prompts as a basis in constructing your interpretation or develop aninterpretation of your own. Your essay must contain a focused thesis statement that makes aclaim/interpretation of the theme of the poem and utilizes specific textual examples and providesreasoning on how the examples support your thesis/claims. Remember: poetry is a much morecondensed mode of expression than the short story and thus your analysis might go as deep ashow a single word choice affects the whole of the poem. Be sure your analysis is structuredeffectively in adherence to the guidelines of scholarly writing as covered in the textbooks anddiscussed in class (formal diction, effective argument structure, grammatical correct, etc.). Also,when quoting lines directly from a poem it is appropriate to insert a / in between line breaks, forinstance: “He stood, and heard the steeple/Sprinkle the quarters on the morning town”. At theend of the sentence in which the quote appears you should include the line numbers, not the pagenumbers, inside the parenthetical citation, i.e. (2-3). Your essay must be properly cited in MLAformat (See Little Seagulls Handbook) and must include a one-page works cited as the last pageof your paper citing the poem you analyzed as a work from an anthology. (Remember: thefollowing prompts are just suggestions, and you are free to interpret the poems in any fashionyou so choose so long as you can back up those interpretations with direct textual support andsolid reasoning/analysis). Finally, I recommend using the textbook as a resource, as theintroductory chapters (which you were already assigned to read) on poetic interpretation providecrucial information on constructing your analysis, as do Chapters 1-3, pages 2-40, and thequestions for discussion and writing following each poem, as well as reading any of the samplestudent essays at the end of each chapter (such as the one on pages 429-431) as a model forwriting a proper poetic analysis. As always, please feel free to e-mail me with any questions,comments, tentative parts of your essay, etc.1. Analyze the speaker in either “The Sins of the Father” or “The Unknown Citizen.” Whatis the prevalent tone in either of the poems? If selecting “The Sins of the Father”: doesthe speaker’s tone shift at any point in the poem. If so, how and when does this shiftoccur and what does it signify? What is the significance of the title and how does thisilluminate the plight of the speaker? If selecting “The Unknown Citizen”: discuss therole of irony in the poem. What sort of attitudes and characteristics are being praised bythe speaker and are these really praise-worthy virtues? (What is Auden’s – as opposed tothe speaker’s – view of the Unknown Citizen?) Examine the satirical effectiveness ofAuden’s choice of tones in depicting his detached narrator. How does Auden’s use ofirony add to the poem’s function as a form of social critique?2. Analyze the paradox that is central to “My Son My Executioner”?3. Analyze the speaker in the poem “When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer.” Why is thespeaker unable to appreciate the astronomy lecture? Are the two temperamentscontrasted in the poem (the poetic and the scientific/rational) truly antithetical? How isthis opposition between the two illustrated in the poem?4. Discuss Shakespeare’s strategy in “My Mistress’ Eyes Are Nothing Like the Sun” andhow the poem works to subvert the prevalent sonnet tradition of the time. What is thespeaker’s attitude towards his mistress? How is the speaker’s more grounded praise of hisbeloved actually more genuine and heart-felt than the cliché, artificial comparisons thatpredominated the sonnets of Shakespeare’s contemporaries?5. What point is A.E. Housman trying to make in his poem “To an Athlete Dying Young”?What would you state as the theme or themes of the poem? Analyze Housman’smetaphor of athletic completion (particularly the race) as representing life? Analyze thesignificance of some of the poem’s central images (for instance the laurel) and how theywork to strengthen this metaphor? What is the overall tone of the poem? Can the poembe read as ironic, and if so, what does this imply?6. What about the poet’s use of regular rhyme scheme (rhyming couplets) and stanza break(quatrains)? How does the form impact the poem’s overall effect?7. Is the poem “Funeral Blues” merely a parody or is Auden’s speaker simply carried awayin the moment of grief? Identify the tone of the poem and analyze it as either mock elegyor serious composition.8. How does the above poem compare (in both tone and structure) with Housman’s “To anAthlete Dying Young.” Write an analysis comparing or contrasting both elegies and theelements that make them either similar or different.9. In the poem “A Hundred Years from Now,” how does the prose poem form impact theoverall effect of the poem? Does the lack of more traditional line breaks make the poemmore or less poetic? How well is the subject matter suited to the form? Who is thespeaker addressing, and why? What do you make of the last line: “Do you still havehorses?” and how does the question serve to resonate in the reader’s mind long after hehas finished reading the poem?10. In “Eight O’ Clock” how does Houseman use poetic language and the poetic devices (linebreak, rhyme scheme, personification, word choice) to evoke a specific atmosphere,mood, and tone in the first stanza? How does that tone change in the second stanza, andhow does it accentuate the twist of the poetic narrative (the hanging)?11. Examine the theme of Adrienne Rich’s poem “Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers.” What type of lifedoes Aunt Jennifer lead? What does her wedding band symbolize? How do the tigershelp us to understand her plight? How is knitting a form of escape for Aunt Jenniferfrom the oppressive reality of her home life? What traits do the tigers possess and whatdo these traits help us to understand about Aunt Jennifer? Perform a close reading of thepoem down to the level of word choice in coming up with your analysis.12. What is the theme of Paul Laurence Dunbar’s poem “We Wear the Mask”? Who isspeaking in the poem? Who are the “we”? Is the “we” humanity in general, somespecific, perhaps marginalized, group (see Dunbar’s biographical blurb in the bookbefore the poem), or both? What is the poem claiming about human nature? Do “we” allwear masks and if so, why, according to the poem?13. Analyze the main theme or themes of Marge Piercy’s poem “Barbie Doll.” What is thesignificant of the poem’s title? How is the poem’s subject dehumanized throughout thepoem? What leads to the suicide in the poem? In what way is the poem’s ending ironic?14. Analyze the tone of Stephen Crane’s “War is Kind.” What is the central theme of thepoem and how does Crane’s use of verbal irony serve to reinforce this theme? Whatcentral message do you feel the speaker of the poem is trying to get across? Why is theflag referred to as “the unexplained glory” (line 9) and how does this work to advance thepoem’s central message and theme?

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