Poetry Response #1 – Classical Poetry
Instructions: Read Percy Bysse Shelly’s “Ozymandius” (p. 698) which is a traditional sonnet. How does the formality of a sonnet add weight to the words and despair of the erosion that Shelly is describing?
BY PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY
I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal, these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”
Poetry Response #2 – Dueling Themes: Negative Argument
Instructions: Read Theodore Roethke’s “My Papa’s Waltz,” (p. 885). The poem has classically been read as either a scene of abuse or a scene of bonding between a parent and a child. Argue that one of these interpretations is not correct. Give evidence for why one of these two interpretations cannot be possible rather than arguing for which interpretation is correct.
My Papa’s Waltz
BY THEODORE ROETHKE
The whiskey on your breath
Could make a small boy dizzy;
But I hung on like death:
Such waltzing was not easy.
We romped until the pans
Slid from the kitchen shelf;
My mother’s countenance
Could not unfrown itself.
The hand that held my wrist
Was battered on one knuckle;
At every step you missed
My right ear scraped a buckle.
You beat time on my head
With a palm caked hard by dirt,
Then waltzed me off to bed
Still clinging to your shirt.
Poetry Response #3 – Subtext
Instructions: Read Adrienne Rich’s “Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers,” (p. 799). What is the commentary that Rich never states. How is this commentary made obvious? What are the keywords that tell you what she is commenting on?
Explain in 200-300 words.
Adrienne Rich, “Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers”
Aunt Jennifer’s tigers prance across a screen,
Bright topaz denizens of a world of green.
They do not fear the men beneath the tree;
They pace in sleek chivalric certainty.
Aunt Jennifer’s finger fluttering through her wool
Find even the ivory needle hard to pull.
The massive weight of Uncle’s wedding band
Sits heavily upon Aunt Jennifer’s hand.
When Aunt is dead, her terrified hands will lie
Still ringed with ordeals she was mastered by.
The tigers in the panel that she made
Will go on prancing, proud and unafraid.
Poetry Response #4 – Worldview
Instructions: Read Langston Hughes, “Theme for English B” (p. 920). Hughes’ persona described the gulf in geography and experience between a white teacher and a black student in the early 20th century. How does this commentary remain relevant today? Use specific lines from Hughes to explain your thoughts.
“Theme for English B”
BY LANGSTON HUGHES
The instructor said,
Go home and write
a page tonight.
And let that page come out of you—
Then, it will be true.
I wonder if it’s that simple?
I am twenty-two, colored, born in Winston-Salem.
I went to school there, then Durham, then here
to this college on the hill above Harlem.
I am the only colored student in my class.
The steps from the hill lead down into Harlem,
through a park, then I cross St. Nicholas,
Eighth Avenue, Seventh, and I come to the Y,
the Harlem Branch Y, where I take the elevator
up to my room, sit down, and write this page:
It’s not easy to know what is true for you or me
at twenty-two, my age. But I guess I’m what
I feel and see and hear, Harlem, I hear you.
hear you, hear me—we two—you, me, talk on this page.
(I hear New York, too.) Me—who?
Well, I like to eat, sleep, drink, and be in love.
I like to work, read, learn, and understand life.
I like a pipe for a Christmas present,
or records—Bessie, bop, or Bach.
I guess being colored doesn’t make me not like
the same things other folks like who are other races.
So will my page be colored that I write?
Being me, it will not be white.
But it will be
a part of you, instructor.
You are white—
yet a part of me, as I am a part of you.
Sometimes perhaps you don’t want to be a part of me.
Nor do I often want to be a part of you.
But we are, that’s true!
As I learn from you,
I guess you learn from me—
although you’re older—and white—
and somewhat more free.
Poetry Response #5 – Inaction
Instructions: Read T.S. Elliot “The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock” (p. 981). As Elliot’s persona wonders if he “dare disturb the universe,” the world passes him by as he seems to only be able to observe the world and not participate in it. What keeps him from participating and is he content to observe? Why? How do you reconcile any interpretation with the last line: “Till human voices wake us, and we drown.”
Too long for the full poem, so here’s the link:
Poetry Response #6 – Suicide Note
Instruction: Read Janice Mirikitani’s “Suicide Note” (p. 683-4). Examine how Mirikitani uses spacing and indentation to create voices in the poem – interruptions – through the visuals. How does this affect the meaning of the poem and the way it is read? Try to identify who these voices belong to and what it accomplished with these interruptions. What other editing techniques does Mirikitani use to call attention to the ideas she is exploring?
Write a minimum 200 word response.
Poetry Response #7 – Structural Poetry
Instructions: Read “Poem in which words have been left out” by Charles Jensen (p. 736). The poem is created through editing and moving the words of the well known “Miranda Rights” which are read to a suspect when they are being arrested for a crime. How does Jensen edit these rights in order to demonstrate problems with the justice system? Pick out one or two examples and explain what Jensen edits and why, and how it reveals a hidden meaning that Jensen thinks is a reality of the justice system.
“Poem In Which Words Have Been Left Out”
—The “Miranda Rights,” established 1966
You have the right to remain
anything you can and will be.
An attorney you cannot afford
will be provided to you.
You have silent will.
You can be against law.
You cannot afford one.
You remain silent. Anything you say
will be provided to you.
The right can and will be
against you. The right provided you.
Have anything you say be
right. Anything you say can be right.
Say you have the right attorney.
The right remain silent.
Be held. Court the one. Be provided.
You cannot be you.