Week 10 Close Reading

John Keats “To Autumn” is an ode poem about the autumn season. The first stanza is one sentence with the next two stanzas starting with questions, in which they also become a run-on sentence. Keats uses imagery with vivid images to describe the “season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,” known as autumn. Personification is used in the poem as he references Autumn, Summer, and Spring as if they were people. Nature is a major focus with Keats stating that all the flowers have led to an over abundance of honey from Summer. Autumn is referenced as a reaper who is “like a gleaner.” A gleaner is who gathers up corn after reapers have passed but the use of reaper might be a reference to the Grim Reaper who cleans up the dead. This would also be a suggestion of Autumn being the personification of death. Many think of the beginning of Autumn as the passing away of summer and leaves falling down. With that said, Keats portrayal of Autumn makes it out to be a representation a season filled with beginnings and endings

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Week 9 Close Reading

A “Holy Sonnet 10” by John Donne is a poem about death. More specifically it is about Donne’s feelings about death and how it is “mankind’s last enemy.” Donne does this by personifying death and even capitalizing death as if it was a pronoun. Another way he personifies death is by giving traits of being “mighty and dreadful” and saying that Death itself “shalt die.” Donne also shows the power of death by mentioning that the best men are “slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men, and dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell.” Donne, states earlier though that death must give much pleasure because he can rest and sleep longer. This type of thinking shows us that Donne wants to believe death is an enjoyable experience rather than a somber one. The reference to the Bible at the end illustrates the theme of the poem since many of people who believe in the Bible believe that death is just a stepping stone to a better place.

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Week 8 Close Reading

Bob Dylan’s “Boots of Spanish Letter” is a ballad that was also a song released by Dylan. As a ballad each stanza has four lines, with the second and fourth lines rhyming in each stanza. The poem is about a women leaving across sea and the man who is presumably in love with her. It is written as a conversation, and in the beginning the poem switches between the man and the women. This goes on for a while until the last three stanzas. The woman asks whether the man would like any gift. The man however, refuses and says he just wants her to come back. Once he realizes she’s not returning he laments his situation and for the last three stanzas we are given his feeling of her loss. At the end he takes up on her request and asks for “Spanish boots of Spanish leather,” clearly a far cry from the relationship he wanted to have with her.

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Week 7 Close Reading

“Snow-Storm” by Ralph Waldo Emerson is a poem simply about nature and snow itself.  The first thing that comes to mind when looking at this poem is Emerson’s description of how much power snow has. This is seen when he says “the whited air hides hills and woods, the river and the heaven and veils the farmhouse at the garden’s end.” He goes on to mention how snows make “all friends shut out” and that “all the housemates sit around the radiant fireplace, enclosed in a tumultuous privacy of storm.” Those lines show the power that nature has over human lives, since it can control or activities and what we do.  Towards the end he personifies snow and says that it “curves his white bastions with projected roof round every windward stake, or tree, or door.” Continuing, Emerson mentions that the snow ends “when his hours are numbered, and the world is all his own, retiring as her were not leaves, when the sun appears,” which gives us another way of looking at snow when it finishes.  By personifying snow and describing its power the reader is able to realize how important nature is to their life.

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Week 6 Close Reading

“Shiloh” written by Herman Melville is a poem referencing the battle at Shiloh Church in Tennessee during the Civil War in the year 1862. The poem is a description of the area before the battle and after the battle that occurred on April 6 and April 7, 1862. The word choice used is simple and helps keep the shorts lines organized.  Melville writes in third person as a storyteller while he tells the reader of the horror of “dying foremen mingled there.” It’s also of note that it was one of the bloodiest battles during the Civil War which makes the somber beginning of the poem making it contradictory since the land would later be filled with the blood of twenty-four thousand men.  One noticeable part of the poem is the complex rhyme scheme that seemed to go ABACCDDA from line 2 to line 10. The interesting part is that poem is only one stanza so the poem is unique and can’t be put into one box.

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Week 5 Close Reading

The poem “Paradoxes and Oxymorons” is four stanzas with four lines poem written by John Ashberry. It is a poem that points the reader to the vocabulary of the poem and what Ashberry is trying to say. This is exemplified in the beginning of the poem where he says “This poem is concerned with language on a very plain level. Looking at it talking to you.” Ashberry continues to play with words in the third line where he says “You have it but you don’t have it,” which is an example of a paradox or contradictory statements.

The second stanza starts out with the author mentioning that the poem is “sad because it wants to be yours, and cannot.” The use of personification is another use of wordplay since we know a poem is an object and has no feelings. He also returns to a statement from the first stanza when asking “What’s a plain level?” This statement is another attempt by the author to get the reader to closely analyze the poem.

The third stanza starts out with an oxymoron when Ashberry  states “A deeper outside thing.” It’s an oxymoron because there is no indication on whether it’s talking about the world outside the poem or the world from which the poem comes from. “A dreamed role-pattern” is also a line with no distinction on whether it’s talking about organization or uncertainty. “These long August days / Without proof…” suggests that he wrote it in August but that’s the only thing clear in the stanza.

The last stanza starts out with Ashberry saying the poem is “played once more” bringing back the idea that the poem can have a feeling. He then goes on to talk about the reader teasing him into thinking that the poem more than an object. He finishes this thinking by saying “the poem is has set me softly beside you. The poem is you.” This brings the poem full circle with reader since Ashberry metioned throughout the poem that poem has been talking to “you”. In that sense he is saying that we are the poem ourselves.

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Week 4 Close Reading

“We Real Cool” is a short poem written by Gwendolyn Brooks that only has eight lines, but makes sure that each line has meaning behind it. The poem mentions the fact that the seven characters the author is writing about are all playing pool and hanging out at the moment. The first two lines of the poem set up the significance by stating “We real cool. We left school.”  This statement sets up the poem with Brooks mentioning that the boys think they are cool because they left school. By mentioning they left school, it is evident that the pool players are school age and should be in school. The next line mentions that “We lurk late. We strike straight.” Once again Brooks shows us the state these young boys are in. Instead of being at home and studying they are lurking late at night where terrible things happen to people.

The next line utters “We sing sin. We thin gin.” This line illustrates the point that they sing songs or divulge sinful stories while drinking liquor at the pool place. The reader must also remember that that they are too young to drink, which shows that these guys are in a very bad place. Lastly, the poem goes on to say “We jazz June. We die soon.” The term “jazz” most likely refers to sex which the boys have with random girls like June. While most of the poem mentioned the daily life of street persons the last line was very impactful for people. “We die soon,” proves that their lifestyle was the wrong one because their lifestyle led to their forthcoming death.


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