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Poetry

This LibGuide provides information on where to start when you read poetry and how to conduct a Close Reading, as well as general guidelines on how to research for papers.

Brainstorming

You will want to set up some kind of brainstorming tool to help you once you have pulled out the quotes and start to analyze them.  A table can be very helpful.  Here is how you might set up your brainstorming for one of the lines taken from "Harlem" by Langston Hughes, which was used as an example under "First Steps."

Literary Element Analysis Notes

Figurative Language:

Simile - like a raisin in the sum

raisin dried up grape - dream maybe dried up, too

dream could have been exposed to light and not realistic anymore so shriveled up

raisin still sweet, though - so dream might still be sweet in the memory or sweet because a memory

You will be able to turn your analysis notes into part of a body paragraph.

Outlining

Instructors get very frustrated when students do not organize their work.  Outlines are a great way to do this.  Here is an example of a generic outline that you might use in order ot organize your Close Reading paper:

  1. Introduction
    1. Introductory Sentence
    2. Introduce the Story to Your Reader
      1. Author
      2. Title
      3. 1-2 Sentence Summary of the Story
      4. Significance of Story if Needed (i.e. Why should someone read this story?  This is OPTIONAL.)
    3. Working Thesis Statement – Includes two to three big categories in order decided upon
  2. Body
    1. Part 1 (Category 1) (first topic in thesis statement)
      1. Section 1 (should be 1-2 paragraphs)
        1. Transition and topic sentence
        2. Explain the category
        3. Provide a Quote
        4. Explain the Quote
        5. Analyze the quote – significance (answers the questions “Why?” or “So what?”)
      2. Section 2 (should be 1-2 paragraphs)
        1. Transition and topic sentence
        2. Explain the category
        3. Provide a Quote
        4. Explain the Quote
        5. Analyze the quote – significance (answers the questions “Why?” or “So what?”)
      3. Etc.
    2. Part 1 (Category 1) (second topic in thesis statement)
      1. Section 1 (should be 1-2 paragraphs)
        1. Transition and topic sentence
        2. Explain the category
        3. Provide a Quote
        4. Explain the Quote
        5. Analyze the quote – significance (answers the questions “Why?” or “So what?”)
      2. Section 2 (should be 1-2 paragraphs)
        1. Transition and topic sentence
        2. Explain the category
        3. Provide a Quote
        4. Explain the Quote
        5. Analyze the quote – significance (answers the questions “Why?” or “So what?”)
      3. Etc.
    3. Part 1 (Category 1) (third topic in thesis statement)
      1. Section 1 (should be 1-2 paragraphs)
        1. Transition and topic sentence
        2. Explain the category
        3. Provide a Quote
        4. Explain the Quote
        5. Analyze the quote – significance (answers the questions “Why?” or “So what?”)
      2. Section 2 (should be 1-2 paragraphs)
        1. Transition and topic sentence
        2. Explain the category
        3. Provide a Quote
        4. Explain the Quote
        5. Analyze the quote – significance (answers the questions “Why?” or “So what?”)
      3. Etc.
  3. Conclusion
    1. 2-3 summary sentence of what analyzed
    2. Pow sentence – what you want your reader to walk away thinking

Here is an example of a filled in outline based on the generic outline:

  1. Introduction
    1. How many people have ever heard of Anne Bradstreet, one of America’s first female poets?
    2. Introduce the Story to Your Reader
      1. Anne Bradstreet
      2. “The Author to Her Book”
      3. Poem about how poetry is like malformed child – doesn’t think worthy of being published – mad at brother-in-law for publishing work
      4. Considered first female American poet – female poets often overlook in literature – important to know these women
    3. In order to convey her personal sense of inadequacy as a poet, Bradstreet employs figurative language, evokes the senses, and makes an emotional appeal in order to garner sympathy from her audience.
  2. Body
    1. Figurative Language
      1. Metaphor
        1. Transition – use appeal to audience; topic sentence – about how using metaphor
        2. Metaphor used create image in reader’s mind
        3. “ill formed offspring” (line 1)
        4. Comparing poem to child born with part of body not shaped right
        5. “ill formed” – “ill” – something terribly wrong – implies curable, but actually not curable; “formed” – process of creation – poems don’t come out of thin air; “offspring” – child, but also labor of love – “offspring” also used for plant – written works growing and taking different forms
      2. Personification
        1. Transition – another kind of figurative language; about how personification used
        2. Personification – give poem qualities of human child – makes sympathetic/relatable
        3. “rambling brat” (line 8)
        4. Saying poem doesn’t go anywhere and can’t be tamed
        5. “rambling” – without a destination; keeps going on even when should stop; “brat” – spoiled child – spent too much time on poems – indulged need to write – feeling spoiled maybe herself for having time to write when others working at other occupations

 

  1. Evoking the Senses
    1. Sight
      1. Transition – Not only use fig. lang, but also evokes senses; topic – say covering sight
      2. Describing how something looks – creates picture in reader’s mind
      3. “blushing” (line 7); “blemishes” (line 12)
      4. Rosy color and imperfect skin
      5. “blushing” – creates idea of pink or red tinging – can be embarrassment, but can also be anger – angry at brother-in-law for publishing book of poems without permission; “blemishes” – imperfections easily noticed – especially on women imperfection considered bad; children supposed to unblemished, so if have early on – think parent did something wrong or child cursed/sinful
    2. Touch
      1. Transition – cursed child dressed in rags; say paragraph about touch
      2. Touch – memory of tactile sensation – might cause reader to rub fingers together – engages reader fully in work
      3. “homespun cloth” (line eighteen)
      4. Homespun cloth – rough cloth, not professional
      5. “homespun” – implying rough, made at home, not from seamstress or store; from poor family – can’t afford buy cloth pre-made; homespun – rough to touch – creates tactile sensation that belies idea of child in poor shape; “cloth,” not clothing – goes to unformed (like cloth before sewn into outfit) -  nature of child/poem
  2. Emotional appeal
    1. Sympathy (with undercurrent of anger)
      1. Transition – use idea of poor and sympathy going together; say paragraph about emotional appeal and specifically sympathy
      2. When reader emotionally invested have stake in outcome
      3. “still thou run’st more hobbling than is meet” (line 16)
      4. In spite of mother’s care, kid still won’t be “normal”
      5. “still” – even after trying, can’t even help kid – feeling of inadequacy as mother – mothers reading might relate; “hobbling” – pointing out different when running – can’t run like regular child – mother blaming self; “meet” meaning acceptable – society treating child differently – shame at having “different” child; also anger at self for not being able to “fix” child and anger at brother-in-law for exposing child to view of public via publication of book of poems
  1. Conclusion
    1. Analyzed metaphor, personification, use sight and touch – create images and get reader into poem; analyzed emotional appeal – sympathy – get reader to relate and understand predicament
    2. Although Bradstreet may not have understood the importance of her publication during her lifetime, her poetry has stood the test of time and reminds readers that women did, indeed, write poetry before the modern era.
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