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Analysis of Poetry Essay Paper
Analysis, Poetry, Essay, Paper
Directions: For Paper #2, you will have two options. You may complete a close reading of a single poem, or pick two poems on a similar theme to compare and contrast.
Therefore, you will need to compare and contrast the general tones of the poems as well as how they use poetic devices to create those tones. Poetic devices you might want to consider include diction, imagery, figurative language, sound (including rhyme, alliteration, assonance, rhythm, and meter), and form.
Your audience for this paper is other students in the class who have read these poems. You will need to quote specific lines, phrases, or words in order to point out specific features of the poems.
Your purpose is to help your reader see the significance of a single poem and its message or to discuss the differences and similarities in two poems and, consequently, to better understand how each one works to create its particular effects or meanings.
Your final paper should be 1,250 – 1,750 words long, typed and double-spaced, with 1” margins all around. This paper is due by midnight on Monday 27 April 2020.
Use of secondary sources (other than our own textbook) is allowed for this assignment, but the majority of your analysis should come from you. Students who rely on eNotes and other resources to analyze their poems are not strengthening their own analytical skills, so they are advised to avoid relying on these. If you do use any outside resources, you must cite them, and be aware that I have copies of eNotes and other shortcuts to analysis like these.
Here are some suggested topics:
Compare and contrast the ways any two of the following poems represent death:
What claims does each poem make about death? What tone or attitude is taken towards death? How does each poem use specific poetic devices to create its tone?
Pick your single poem or pair of poems.
A close reading can be a line by line analysis of a single poem.
For comparison-contrast, there are two general ways to organize a comparison/contrast argument of this sort. One way would be to discuss each poem separately: that is, say everything you have to say about poem A and then say everything you have to say about poem B.
At some point, either in the discussion of poem B or in a concluding section of the paper, you need to point out the similarities and differences you’ve discovered, both the general ones and the specific ones.
The second way to organize such an argument would be to discuss comparable aspects of the poems one at a time: thus, you might have a paragraph or two on how each one uses imagery, followed by a discussion of how each one uses figurative language, followed by a discussion of how each one uses rhyme, etc.
For some papers on this assignment, the first approach may work better. It allows you to offer a more coherent reading of each poem, rather than making your reader skip back and forth between the two poems. The second approach might work for two poems that are very similar, such as two different Shakespeare sonnets.
If you like the second approach, be sure to give your reader a quick overview of the similarities and differences your analysis focuses on at the beginning of the paper, to help your reader stay oriented.
Whichever approach you take, I’d recommend outlining this paper before you begin drafting it. Sometimes outlines can be stifling, but the organization of this sort of paper will probably be pretty straightforward in most cases. Of course, if you come up with a neat or useful insight after you’ve made your outline, find some way to adjust the outline to fit it in.
Keep in mind that you will probably not want to write about all the poetic features and devices you identify in each poem. Rather, you will want to pick the ones that seem important in creating each poem’s distinct tone, effect, or meaning.
Having picked the poems you’ll be writing about in Paper #2, take the following initial steps to begin exploring each one:
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