Why read poetry? The poet Amy Lowell said that question was like asking, “Why should one eat?” In other words, for some people, poetry is both nourishing and essential—it can make us cry, soothe us when we are upset, stir us up when we are complacent, and say things in a way that nothing else can. But how does poetry do all these things? That’s what this Project is about. In this Project, you will write a paper analyzing and interpreting poetry.
For this Project, you will read three poems about fathers: “My Papa’s Waltz,” by Theodore Roethke; “Those Winter Sundays,” by Robert Hayden; and “My Father’s Hats,” by Mark Irwin. You will then write a paper that examines how these poems use mood, imagery and simile or metaphor.
- First, examine the Terms List to make sure you understand the concepts of mood, imagery, simile and metaphor. Also, read through the resources “Using Evidence From Texts,” “Writing About Poetry” and “Citing Poetry,” which will be helpful when writing your paper.
- Next, read each poem aloud several times. For the Roethke poem, you can listen to an audio file of the poet reading his poem. Circle any words that are unfamiliar to you or that strike you as particularly interesting. Look up any unfamiliar words.
- In preparation for writing your paper, take time to analyze and interpret each poem, considering the following questions:
- What is the poem about?
- What is the mood of the poem? Does the mood of the poem change from the beginning to the end?
- What impact do mood, imagery and simile/metaphor have on you and the poem?
- Does this poem appeal to you? Why or why not?
- Once you have carefully considered your answers to each of the above questions, use what you have learned from analyzing and interpreting these poems to write a 600- to 750-word paper. In your paper, provide at least one example of each of the following literary techniques: mood, imagery and simile/metaphor. You may use examples from any of the poems. Then, discuss how these literary techniques impact the meanings of the poems. What effect do these techniques have on the reader? Why do you think the author chose to use the wording he did?
- Proofread your work to correct for errors in spelling, grammar, punctuation or mechanics before you submit your paper.
- You do not need to do research for this paper, but all sources, quotations and paraphrases from the texts must be cited using APA format
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