Instructions: choose any poem from the reader that appeals to you



  • Choose any poem from the reader that appeals to you (it may be useful to re-read some of the poems to make a decision). Then, begin writing – and revising – an arguable (i.e., contestable) thesis about your chosen poem. (We will spend some time working on this in class.)
  • Create a working outline to organize your supporting claims into body paragraphs. It is very helpful to consider topic sentences and transitions at this phase.
  • Write a draft that supports your thesis with concrete, textual details from the poem. Include an engaging introduction and a meaningful conclusion that goes beyond summary. (Remember – a close reading involves examining how the language of the text creates particular effects; stay focused on the specific language of the poem. For every point you make, you ought to be able to refer back to a specific part of the text for support. Conversely, for every quotation you include, you must explain how it supports your argument.)
  • Go back to your thesis – do you still think it is correct? Does it need to be modified in light of the evidence that you have analyzed? Make any necessary changes to your thesis.
  • Read through the body of the essay. Does it need to be modified to match up with the thesis? Are there points that need more support? Does each paragraph lead logically into the next? Make the necessary changes.
  • Repeat steps #4 – 6 until you are satisfied with your work, exhausted, or both. Then come to my office hours with any questions you have. 

LIST OF POEMS – choose from these ones

 Alfred Tennyson,“Timbuctoo”

Walt Whitman, “On the Beach at Night Alone” and “Pioneers! O Pioneers!”

Henry Abbey, “Faith’s Vista”

Robert Frost, “The Star-Splitter”

William Carlos Williams, “Heel & Toe to the End”

Stanley Kunitz, “The Flight of Apollo”

Ray Bradbury, “If Only We Had Taller Been” 


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