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Short Analytical Essay Assignment
Please write a three to fourpage essay (800-1,000 words) providing a close reading of one or more poems in Meyer that we have not discussed at length in class. (You may, however, use a poem you have written a Friday Paragraph about.) If you write about more than one poem, be sure to show a connection between the poems, whether of similarity or difference (or both). That is, write a single, unified essay, with a single unified argument, not just a collection of paragraphs. Each essay should be typed (doublespaced). At the top of the first page, please place your name, the title of your essay (no quotation marks necessary unless your title is itself a quotation), and the date.
Begin by asking yourself the questions Meyer proposes on pp. 45-46. Not all of them will be relevant to the particular poems you want to write about, so skip the irrelevant ones. Write responses to the questions that you do think are relevant. You may or may not use a particular response in your essay, but the process of getting ideas down on paper will be helpful nonetheless.
After you have done these preliminaries, pick a tentative topic that you find interesting and start writing. The “quirky” (something you find difficult to explain at first) is often a good place to start. Just keep writing until you have a draft. Writing is a way of thinking; so as you write, you will find yourself coming upon new ideas, new ways of looking at the poem or poems you are considering. Discard false starts (and disappointing tentative topics) and pursue the ones you find productive.
After you have a reasonable draft, edit it; that is, try to read it as other readers will, as someone who doesn’t know what you are trying to say. The final draft must be focused on a main idea (or thesis), and you must provide evidence and argument to support that thesis. Ground your discussion in the texts of the works themselves. Use specific evidence from the texts, but do not quote unnecessarily long passages. Don’t print a block of lines, and only, after doing so, explain what it means and how it relates to your argument. Integrate your quotations into your argument.
Make certain that each word and each sentence means what you want it to mean, that sentences construct useful paragraphs, that the paragraphs are arranged as part of a logical argument, providing information as it is needed. The first paragraph and the final paragraph will be different, because when your reader reads your first paragraph, he or she will have no idea what you are trying to argue. By the time your reader reaches the final paragraph, he or she will have the benefit of having read your evidence and argument and be prepared for the stunning conclusion to it all.
The final step is to proofread your work. It is difficult to think and type at the same time. As you type, you mind is concerned with what comes next. So errors creep in. Proofreading allows you to correct those errors. Remember that your reader can’t read your mind. All the reader knows is what finally appears in the essay itself. The correctness of your final draft will disproportionately affect how a reader views your work. Imagine a beautifully designed and sewn silk blouse. It is a thing of beauty, but it has a ketchup stain on it. All that others will see, alas, is the ketchup stain.
Quotations: This essay doesn’t require research. It is intended to reflect your personal engagement with the poetry. You don’t have to provide bibliographical information (on a “Works Cited” page) for material quoted from Thinking and Writing about Poetry. Cite quotations from the text with “p.” or “pp.” and the page number (s):
Michael Mayer argues that “the somber tone” of Robert Frost’s “Acquainted with the Night,” “suggests that the lines have symbolic meaning, too” (p. 121).
Cite poetry with the poem’s title in quotation marks (if it’s not already clear what poem you are quoting) and the line number:
In “Dover Beach,” Matthew Arnold expresses the hope that human love can somehow compensate for a world which has in itself “neither joy, nor love, nor light, / Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain” (33-34).
Note (1) that there is a spaced forward slant (/) to indicate the line break and (2) that the period (which would go before the close quotes if there were no citation) is postponed until after the citation.
Special rules for blocked quotations: For a blocked quotation (usually of 3 to 5 lines), indent the entire quotation a couple of tabs (ten spaces). Don’t use quotation marks unless the quotation is itself a quotation. There is no need for slants (/) in blocked, indented quotations of poetry, since you will quote the passage exactly as it appears in the text, so each line ends will end where it ends in the original. The citation (unlike a citation with a quotation embedded in your text) goes after the closing period in the quotation. For example:
No, I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To start a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince. . . . (Eliot, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, 111-14)
If you do use words or ideas from a secondary source, you do need to provide a citation. If you use a secondary source, please follow the directions in Meyer (pp. 383-89). Presenting someone else’s words or ideas as your own will result in a failing grade in the course and will be reported to Student Affairs. Just so you know--I use the “Turnitin” service, which compares your work to internet sources and other student work to check whether sources have been properly credited in an essay. I do this chiefly to discourage the susceptible from resorting to plagiarism in the first place.
1. "Delight Disorder"-Robert H
2. "Song"- John Donne
Short Analytical Essay Assignment
Please write a three to fourpage essay (800-1,000 words) providing a close reading of one or more poems in Meyer that we have not discussed at length in class. (You may, however, use a poem you have written a Friday Paragraph about.