Friday, October 30, 2009

Topics for poetry essay

Choose one of the topics below for an 800-word essay.
  • Demonstrate how the duke's character is progressively revealed in "My Last Duchess" and evaluate how the speaker's voice is different from the poet's.
  • Compare and contrast tone and theme in Whitman's "To a Locomotive in Winter" and Dickinson's "I like to see it lap the miles."
  • Compare and contrast Saenz's "To the Desert" and Donne's "Batter my heart, three-personed God, for you."
  • Paraphrase Kees's "For My Daughter," describe the poem's tone and major theme, and write a personal response to the poem.
  • Explore and evaluate symbolism and double-meanings in "White Lies." Explain how double-meaning is central to the poem's theme.
  • Develop a plausible interpretation of "Luke Havergal." Would you advise Luke to follow the speaker's advice? Why or why not?
  • Analyze the meaning of "God's Grandeur." Based on the poet's life, in what ways might the poem reflect Hopkins's own views on God and creation?
  • Compare and contrast themes and tone in "My Father's Waltz" and "For My Daughter."
  • Make a case for why short poems such as "I Shoot the Hippopotamus," "On my boat on lake Cayuga," and "On the imprint of the first English edition of The Works of Max Beerbohm" are aesthetically superior to longer, more "serious" poems.
I know some of you are struggling with understanding the meanings of most if not all of these poems. If you've chosen a topic or two in time for our library session Tuesday morning, you may be surprised to find how very much information is available for helping you to understand these poems--especially the older, classic works. If you'll keep yourself encouraged and take a little bit of initiative in researching your topics, you should be rewarded with increased understanding of the poems and with the materials to write well about them.

I'll be available to help you in the library Tuesday morning and at my office at other times of day. If you're having trouble, don't just nurse your frustration. Again, take the initiative to get a hold of this stuff. I'm more than happy to help you do so.

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