ENG4 Main DQ (Textbook Unit 3: Composition and Literature, Perkins Unit3)

ENG4 Main DQ (Textbook Unit 3: Composition and Literature, Perkins Unit3)

1. Initial post:  200-300 words response with reference/ citation.

  1. Choose one of the assigned poems from the textbook or from the Poet Laureate.
  2. Look through the critical approaches described by Muller and Williams in the Week 1 reading, and choose 2 that you think could be used to analyze the poem you chose.
  3. In your post, explain how using each approach might affect your understanding of the poem. Would you focus on different parts of the poem? Different themes? Why? Make sure to support your claim with examples from the Muller and Williams chapter and from the poem itself.
  4. End by explaining which critical approach seems to be more suited to the poem you chose. Be sure to explain your reasons for thinking this.

Please divide your posts into paragraphs for easier reading, and make sure to reference, paraphrase, or quote specific passages from the text to support and illustrate what you say (and cite the passages using MLA citation format).


Poet Laureate:

1. http://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/pilgrimage

2. http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/237548

3. http://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/theories-time-and-space

4. http://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/kitchen-maid-supper-emmaus-or-mulata

5. http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/176998


2. As explained in the lesson notes, IGOs are supranational organizations that are heavily connected to regional or international security and international law. A prime example is the UN. Today, the UN is involved in a number of peacekeeping missions around the world. Each time the UN intervenes it sets precedent, which could evolve into customary law.

For this forum, please visit the UN peacekeeping homepagehttp://www.un.org/en/peacekeeping/operations/

and choose one current or past mission to focus on. For that mission, explain the circumstances that created the need to intervene (background), the purpose of the mission (mandate) and any interesting facts and figures about it. Please be sure to paraphrase and cite the information rather than quoting it. I recommend thinking of it as telling the story behind the mission much like the producers did in the movie Black Hawk Down. What happened and what did the UN do about it? Is there something unique about the mission that is setting precedent or impacting international law?

When possible, avoid showcasing the same mission as another student.

Instructions: Your initial post should be at least 350 words with reference.



Unit 3: Reading & Writing
About PoetryMuller−Williams: Ways In:
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Literature and Film, 2/e
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Writing about Poetry
xperts generally acknowledge poetry as the oldest form of literature, but
the “problem of defining it is the problem of defining its extraordinariness,”
as one critic observes.
The earliest poetry we know is narrative poetry, which reflected the history,
celebrations, beliefs, and mores of ancient peoples in the Egyptian offering
lists, utterances, and papyri; in the Greek epics, the Indian Vedas, the
Norse sagas, the Hebrew Old Testament, the Babylonian Gilgamesh epic, and
elsewhere. Robert Graves called these narratives a “dramatic shorthand
record.” Cicero believed that the poet performed invaluable service by recording
the deeds of national heroes and noblemen. What poetry is and what it
does are questions that have been debated for centuries.
Matthew Arnold said, “There are two offices of poetry—one to add to one’s
store of thoughts and feelings—another to compose and elevate the mind by
sustained tone, numerous allusions, and a grand style.” Arnold’s is a late definition
of poetry which for centuries had been considered a kind of fiction, wherein
stories were told and a “faigning” (feigning) observable. Sir Philip Sidney
thought poetry was “distinctive” because it joined philosophy and history, a
theory that John Donne also believed. William Wordsworth in his Preface saw
the debate about what poetry is as one concerned with the differences between
“matter of fact and science.” He was joined in this opinion by Samuel Taylor
Coleridge and Leigh Hunt. There is for all discussion, however, one monumental
difference today between poetry and prose, and it is that prose mimics ordinary
speech, while poetic language is extraordinary in the selection of words it
uses and in its metrical rhythms. A stanza from Donne’s sardonic “Song” (Go
and Catch a Falling Star) provides an example of unusual language filled with
bite and imagery:
Go and catch a falling star
Get with child a mandrake root,
Tell me where all past years are,
Or who cleft the Devil’s foot,
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Teach me to hear mermaids singing,
Or to keep off envy’s stinging,
And find
What wind
Serves to advance an honest mind.
In this single stanza we find stated divisions between “matter of fact” and science,
and myth and personal observation. (Donne, after a rakish youth, became a
clergyman.) Prose, it was believed by the leading Romantic writers, was better
suited for scientific exposition than poetry. Thomas Mann insisted that it was “a
fruitless and futile mania” for critics to keep probing for differences between the
works of prose writers and poets. Ezra Pound agreed, saying that “all essays
about ‘poetry’ are usually not only dull but inaccurate” and without value.
Poetry is further distinguished by structure or form and its use of meter,
which produces rhythm and rhyme. Conversely, some poetry relies heavily on
imagery and very little on rhythm and rhyme. In sum, the now traditional differences
between poetry and prose are these: poetry may be written in meter,
but prose is not; poetry may use rhyme, while prose does not; poetry most
often uses “a special language,” but, for the most part, prose does not. (Joyce,
of course, would be one of several exceptions.)
The major characteristic of poetry as it evolved through the ages has become
its ability to distill monumental themes down to their essences. (We rarely today
see a poem that fills a book, like The Iliad or The Odyssey.) In a time when Americans
are said to be upset by global politics, the following two poems might be considered
not only prophetic, but good examples of the distillation of themes that
have always concerned us. The first, “America” by Claude McKay, is in traditional,
fourteen-line, iambic pentameter, sonnet form. The second, by e. e. cummings,
“next to of course god,” is in “open” or “free verse” form. Consider not
only the topic, but the differences in structure, language, and tone:
Although she feeds me bread of bitterness,
And sinks into my throat her tiger’s tooth,
Stealing my breath of life, I will confess
I love this cultured hell that tests my youth!
Her vigor flows like tides into my blood,
Giving me strength against her hate.
Her bigness sweeps my being like a flood.
Yet as a rebel fronts a kind in state,
I stand within her walls with not a shred
Of terror, malice, not a word of jeer.
Darkly I gaze into the days ahead,
And see her might and granite wonders there,
Beneath the touch of Time’s unerring hand,
Like priceless treasures sinking in the sand.
“next to of course god america i
love you land of the pilgrims; and so forth oh
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say can you see by the dawn’s early my
country ‘tis of centuries come and go
and are no more what of it we should worry
in every language even deafanddumb
thy sons acclaim your glorious name by gorry
by jingo by gee by gosh by gum
why talk of beauty what could be more beautiful
than these heroic happy dead
who rushed like lions to the roaring slaughter
they did not stop to think they died instead
then shall the voice of liberty be mute.”
He spoke. And drank rapidly a glass of water.
A single reading of a poem, short or long, is not enough to perceive its
meaning, for a poem is somewhat like a mystery to be solved, or a language
to be understood. Poetry should be studied line by line. Because of its nature
to compress or distill, every word in a poem tends to bear more weight
than every word in a story or novel. “Sound out” a poem; read it aloud to
detect what silent readings may not offer up. Better still, go to poetry readings
remembering that poems were originally sung and that there are still
places in the world where poets and sometimes musical instruments are
called singers.
It is important to know when, approximately, a poem was written; as
suggested in the fiction section, it is also helpful to know something about
the author and his or her life. A poem’s title may also give you a clue as to
its theme, and with each reading you’ll discover more about the work and
find yourself responding to it. That’s what the poet wants; that’s what any
writer wants, because the crucial importance about a poem is that you, the
reader, come to feel what the poet wants you to. If this occurs, that means
you have penetrated his or her imaginative arena, unlocked the mystery, understood
the language.
Poets, being “the athletes of language,” according to Robert Boynton,
are forever challenging our ability to keep up with them. They are like
drummers in the band called Literature: they set the pace, diminish or augment
it with new or different chords, “sound,” images, signals. If we as
players somehow lose the beat, we need only “listen” closely to the drummer
to get back to it. Poetry is not confined to books; folk singers, blues
singers, rockers, and rappers are “the poets of everyday,” their lyrics perhaps
more current, but certainly linked to the way many people have
thought and felt over time.
Your understanding of and sensitivities about popular music may help
you with the study of poetry and strengthen the confidence you have in your
ability to understand, enjoy, and write about poetry. Like fiction, poetry tells
us stories, but they are stories in miniature. The poet leaves it to you to open
the work and see his or her world in which you, too, live.
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When you have come to feel the importance of a poet and the special qualities
of his or her work, you have reached the stage where you should be capable of
writing critical essays about that work. However, critical writing requires that
you deal with the major elements of poetry, which are detailed in the following
Types of Poetry
Broadly and structurally speaking there are two basic kinds of poetry. The
first and by far the more traditional, is the “closed” form, which follows a pattern
that we may find in a sonnet or villanelle, “heroic” or “blank” verse (verso
sciolto). Closed poetry abides by rules of form set down long ago and rarely
departs from them. These rules determine the length of each line, and where
rhyme and accent are placed. Of course, as poetry evolved, various authors
experimented with the traditional forms.
The “open” form, often called “free verse” or vers libre, is considered to be
an American-created form as opposed to the closed forms, which are European.
The open form relies heavily not on rhyme and not necessarily on the
traditional metric feet that create rhythm, but on a perhaps more subtle
rhythm called “cadence,” and imagery.
Beneath the headings of closed and open are many types of poetry, easily
a dozen or even more, which are variations of three major styles in poetry:
narrative (treated earlier in this chapter), dramatic monologue, and lyric.
Matthew Arnold characterized the monologue as being “The dialogue of the
mind with itself.” Believed to be popular only since the Middle Ages, it nevertheless
is rooted much deeper in the poetic imagination, back to the epics and
sagas and papyri, to the Greek plays, which are written in poetry. Everyone
knows the beginning of Hamlet’s soliloquy (or monologue)—“To be or not to
be,” spoken while Hamlet ponders revenge. The critical situations of characters
in all literature have always been the ideal times for them to range about
within themselves for solutions. In the following example of dramatic monologue,
Alfred, Lord Tennyson places “Ulysses” in a very special place located
between the allegorical renderings of Dante and the myths related by the
Homerian Iliad and Odyssey. In this section, Ulysses from afar contemplates
the virtues and perhaps defects in his son:
This is my son, mine own Telemachus,
To whom I leave the sceptre and the isle—
Well-loved of me, discerning to fulfil
This labour, by slow prudence to make mild
A rugged people, and thro’ soft degrees
Subdue them to the useful and the good.
Most blameless is he, centered in the sphere
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Of common duties, decent not to fail
In offices of tenderness, and pay
Meet adoration to my household gods,
When I am gone. He works his work, I mine.
“Ulysses” is in blank verse—metered in iambic pentameter without rhyme. It
is a closed poem.
Lyric poetry is distinguished by the personal posture of the poet—how he
or she views the world. The language is strong yet plain and striking. We are
made aware of the world around us through the personification of the elements
of which it is composed. Yet lyric poetry is controlled through its structure
which defines it, too, as closed, as we see in Wordsworth’s “Composed
Upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802”:
Earth has not anything to show more fair:
Dull would be he of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty:
This city now doth, like a garment, wear
The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky;
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.
Never did the sun more beautifully steep
In his first splendour, valley, rock, or hill;
Ne’er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!
The river glideth at his own sweet will:
Dear God! the very houses seem asleep;
And all that mighty heart is lying still!
William Wordsworth became the standard-bearer of lyric poetry (lyric:
“fit to be sung with a lyre or harp”), with his 1798 publication of Lyrical Ballads
(first edition; there were three). By contrast, in the United States Walt Whitman
“said his ‘God be with you’ to the European poets and then parted company
with them irrevocably… and with his American colleagues, too. He
sang no sweet songs, but long, loosely metered chants,” wrote critic Max
Herzberg. Leaves of Grass was Whitman’s mark upon the land and mind of
America in 1855, and, shortly after, the world.
An example of Whitman’s innovative open poetry is his “Cavalry Crossing
a Ford,” set during the Civil War:
A line in long array where they wind betwixt green islands,
They take a serpentine course, their arms flash in the sun—hark to the musical
Behold the silvery river, in it the splashing horses loitering stop to drink,
Behold the brown-faced men, each group, each person a picture, the negligent rest
on the saddles,
Some emerge on the opposite bank, others are just entering the ford—while,
Scarlet and blue and snowy white,
The guidon flags flutter gayly in the wind.
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“Calvary Crossing a Ford” contains very long lines and some short lines. Basically,
the language is not used to yield thundering interior or metric
rhythms. Like a serpent (“serpentine course”), the cavalry winds from one
bank of the river to the other. The emphasis is on alliteration, the repetition of
consonant or vowel sounds at the beginning of words: “A line in long array”;
“emerge . . . opposite… others… entering… flags flutter . . . .”;
“Scarlet and blue and snowy white” not only is alliterative, but has a subtle
rhythm as well. The intent of this open poem is to create a picture through
word images, and a single picture usually captures one event in progress,
“narrates” one story that opens on a wider world. In this case that world is
the Civil War.
Voice and Tone
Tone is the “voice” or attitude we encounter in a poem. Tone tells us the way
the poet feels about you, himself or herself, the world. Gwendolyn Brooks’
diction in “The Bean Eaters” is designed to make us feel a very particular way:
They eat beans mostly, this old yellow pair.
Dinner is a casual affair.
Plain chipware on a plain and creaking wood,
Tin flatware.
Two who are Mostly Good.
Two have lived their day,
But keep on putting on their clothes
And putting things away.
And remembering…
Remembering, with twinklings and twinges,
As they lean over the beans in their rented back room that
is full of beads and receipts and dolls and cloths,
Tobacco crumbs, vases and fringes.
Describe the tone of “The Bean Eaters.” Note the several images that highlight
the condition of these elderly people, and the empathy Brooks expresses.
In some ways there is a similarity between the determination of the couple to
“keep on” doing things and Ulysses’ pledge “to strive, to seek, to find and not
to yield” (in the final stanza). In Brooks’ poem, also note the structure with
both short and long lines, and rhyme, though it is irregular. Is the poem open,
closed, or a combination of both?
Note the differences in tone—attitude—and structure between Brooks’
poem and Cyn. Zarco’s poem:
There’s a washcloth
with a picture of asparagus
in my bathroom.
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Did you know
that Filipinos were picked
to grow asparagus in the West
because they were short
and built close to the ground?
I’m 5′3″. I don’t use
that washcloth anymore.
There is a cleanness and brevity of line in this poem that contains a tone of defiance
about the past—and the future. It is an open, lyrical poem, but you have
to fill in some of the story.
Sound is frequently associated with voice and tone. But the creation of
sound in a poem, that is, making you seem to hear sound, is a process of diction.
Poets select certain words that we have come to associate with certain
sounds. “Splash,” “buzz,” and “hiss,” for example, are commonly associated
with water, flying insects, geese, and serpents. The Greek word onomatopoeia
simply means naming a thing or action by imitating it vocally. Sound often
may be sensed in the way a poem is written, for example in Coleridge’s
“Kubla Khan,” before we are actually aware of the sound. But do remember
that most poets think about sound because their work traditionally was heard,
not read, although there is much poetry written today primarily to be read.
The utilization of rhythm, meter, alliteration, assonance, and dissonance (see
the glossary on page 159) are crucial in producing sound in a poem.
Imagery and Symbolism
Poetry would not be poetry without imagery (words and phrases that address
the senses) and symbolism (words that evoke additional meanings beyond
their literal significance). Homer gives us the “rosy-fingered dawn” and the
“wine-dark sea,” images that have lingered more than 2,000 years. An image,
may be created with one or several related words used to make us feel that we
are “living in a poem” through hearing, feeling, tasting, seeing, or smelling.
The Symbolist movement began in France late in the nineteenth century.
Its members believed poetry could better express and explore the human psyche
by recreating human consciousness through symbols, which often reflect
inexpressible emotions. In the United States, the “Imagists” were the American
counterparts of the Symbolists.
Sometimes the major image in a poem is indicated by its title, as in Imagist
Amy Lowell’s “Taxi”:
When I go away from you
The world beats dead
Like a slackened drum.
I call out for you against the jutted stars
And shout into the ridges of the wind.
Streets coming fast,
One after the other,
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Wedge you away from me.
And the lamps of the city prick my eyes
So that I can no longer see your face.
Why should I leave you,
To wound myself upon the sharp edges of the night?
All the related images employed here define a situation. What is it, what’s
going on? How does the text of the poem fracture the “I” and “you” found in
five of the twelve lines? Is this an open or closed poem?
In poetry (and fiction) the function of symbolism is to stand for a state of
mind instead of representing a specific object. For example, in everyday life,
we know that the green light tells us that we may walk across the street, while
the red one advises us not to. The red, white, and blue flag with thirteen
stripes and fifty stars is a symbol having many meanings to Americans. If the
flag were green with black stripes and red stars it would have very little
meaning for most of us because, as Kenneth Burke wrote, “A symbol is the
verbal parallel to a pattern of experience,” and our experiences have prepared
us not for green, black, and red, but red, white, and blue, the flag that stands
for the United States of America.
Some poets take standard symbols and create new ones that have reference
to the old, familiar ones. For it is in the nature of poetry to create newer
and possibly more accurate symbols for the world we know. The first and
final stanzas of Gerald Vizenor’s “Haiku” offer us familiar symbols with uncommon
october sunflowers
like rows of defeated soldiers
leaning in the frost
october wind
garage doors open and close
wings of the moth
Although the term “image” calls up something we have seen, in poetic
terms we are considering specific, related words that have to do with sensual
(the five senses) experiences.
A symbol, on the other hand, stands for something other than what it is.
Simile and Metaphor
A simile is a figure of speech that compares two things from different categories,
using signal words such as “like,” “as,” and “seems.” A metaphor also
makes a comparison between unlike things but without these signal words.
“Johnson is as tall as Bird” is not a simile, but “Johnson is as tall as a small
tree” is, because of the dissimilarity of the references or comparisons. Similes
use “like” or “as”—“He ran like the wind.” Metaphors also substitute one
thing for another, hence “tree” for “Bird.” Aristotle believed that the ability to
find resemblance in disparate things was “the best gift of the poet.”
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In Maya Angelou’s “To a Husband” we find powerful metaphors in the
opening lines:
Your voice at times a fist
Tight in your throat
Jabs ceaselessly at phantoms
In the room,
Your hand a carved and
Skimming boat
Goes down the Nile
To point out Pharaoh’s tomb.
Note the absence of “like” in the first and fifth lines of the stanza.
Analogy is often associated with simile and metaphor. It presumes a resemblance
between two things. This example is from Francis Bacon: “Money is
like muck, not good unless it’s spread.” Allusion, also to be found in this company,
is an indirect reference to some person, place, object, or event within a
literary work. Babette Deutsch’s poem, “Disasters of War: Goya at the Museum,”
alludes to a famous painting by Francisco y Lucientes Goya
(1746–1828) that hangs in the Prado Museum in Madrid.
Diction and Syntax
Diction is the conscious manipulation of language. It has been described as the
clothes words wear. But, since words wear out with use and become cliché, for
permanence as well as poetic sensibility, diction should suggest rather than
state. And the use of symbolism, metaphor, and simile, which in themselves
require linguistic knowledge and dexterity, can only be effective through judicious
diction—the selection and use of poetic language.
Syntax is the way words are organized in order to have meaning; words
so formed become sentences and phrases, which in turn can become poems,
stories, novels, or plays, or today’s big newspaper story. The word selection or
diction in Octavio Paz’s “Engaged” is supported by a syntax that seems deceptively
Stretching out on the grass
a boy and a girl.
Sucking their oranges, giving kisses
like waves exchanging foam.
Stretched out on the beach
a boy and a girl.
Sucking their limes, giving their kisses
like clouds exchanging foam.
Stretched out underground
a boy and a girl.
Saying nothing, never kissing,
giving silence for silence.
The poet has described, with slight differences, places where there are
always “stretched out” “a boy and a girl,” who are “giving” their kisses until
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the final stanza. Then the first and last two lines surprise. We want to say at
the end, “Wait a minute,” and reread the poem to absorb that final difference,
not so much in the syntax, which led us there, as much as the place that
makes the disruption in behavior, tone, and meaning. Note the similes
within the syntax.
Meter and Rhythm
In Greek, meter means metron or measure. Most consistently used in closed poetry
(which need not necessarily be “traditional”), meter is the regular recurrence
of a pattern of rhythm or rhythms in lines of poetry; meter is the beat we
can relate to just as in music. If you think of the poems you remember best, you
might discover that they were rhythmical as well as rhymed. Critic John Middleton
Murry wrote: “There is a background of metrical sameness separating us
like a curtain from the practical world; there is a richness of rhythmical variation
to make the world in which we are, worthy of attention.” Rhythm is formed by
the stress (or accent or beat) on certain syllables within what are called “feet” in
lines of poetry. Some words are naturally stressed, others naturally not, so another
function of diction is not only to select the right words to make the point
of the poem, but to select the right ones with the right stress or lack thereof. In
poetry written in English, the typical metrical feet are iambic (

′), trochaic (′

anapestic (
′), and dactylic (′
). Scansion is the method of analyzing the kind
of meter and number of feet used in a poetic line.
Ben Jonson’s “Still to Be Neat,” which follows, is an example of a rhythmical
(and rhymed) poem containing precisely four feet in each line but with interesting
metrical variation. Try “scanning” each line.
Still to be neat, still to be drest,
As you were going to a feast;
Still to be pou’dred, still perfum’d:
Lady, it is to be presum’d,
Though arts hid causes are not found
All is not sweet, all is not sound.
Give me a look, give me a face,
That makes simplicity a grace;
Robes loosely flowing, hair as free:
Such sweet neglect more taketh me,
Than all th’adulteries of art.

They strike mine eyes, but not mine heart.
You wonder if Jonson is writing about Art or Woman—or both—here, but
it is the striking control of meter that creates the rhythm that in the first place
entraps us in the poem long enough to examine its theme.
As indicated in the section on fiction, theme is the essence of subject, which is
more general. In that section, poet Wilfred Owen was contrasted with fiction
writers Tolstoy and Hemingway. Here is another poet, perhaps the greatest,
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William Shakespeare, who within the constraints of the fourteen-line sonnet
(number 116), addresses the durability of true love:
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O, no; it is an ever-fixèd mark,
That looks on tempests and is never shaken:
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.
Themes in literature provide us with the tools we require for understanding
a work. But theme is never stated; we arrive at it through action and insight
when we have worked our way inside a story, novel, or poem.
When we say “work our way inside,” we mean knowing a work of literature as
well as we can. Reading and rereading a poem, aloud as well as silently, is one
step to interpreting poetry. Another, as in fiction, is to know under what circumstances
a poem was written. This, of course, additionally means knowing
something about the author, and the more the better since, obviously, poems
do not write themselves. Exercising your knowledge of the elements of poetry
is a crucial factor in interpretation.
While there can be several interpretations of a work, there are always
common elements that writers consider. Decide what kind of poetry is under
discussion, dramatic monologue, lyric, or narrative (or a combination of
them). Are you writing about closed poetry with its traditional rules, or open
poetry which tends to make its own rules? Unlike a story, remember, a poem
will render a great theme down to its essences, its most important aspects.
Critical analysis requires that, early on in your paper, you state clearly what
the theme is. Once you know that, you can then find the elements in the poem
to support your opinion that the theme is what you think it is. If you are right,
discuss the clues that led you to this conclusion, the words, the images, the
lines and their formations.
Should your assignment be to compare two poems, the process is essentially
the same. For example, given Shelley’s “Ozymandias” and Coleridge’s
“Kubla Khan,” you might arrive at somewhat similar themes that suggest, in
sinister fashion, a warning to humankind. Both are set in unworldly locations;
both possess an ominous, sometimes eerie tone, yet both are by lyrical poets
58 Part 2 The Elements of Literature
232 ENGL200Muller−Williams: Ways In:
Reading and Writing about
Literature and Film, 2/e
II. The Elements of
4. Writing about Poetry © The McGraw−Hill
Companies, 2005
who use meter, rhythm, and rhyme to convey meaning. The most obvious
point of contrast, on the other hand, is in the length of the two poems, the
brevity of Shelley’s, and the length and growth of power in Coleridge’s.
Although Coleridge was born twenty years before Shelley, who drowned
at 30, both were influenced by Wordsworthian ideals and the philosophies of
the Age of Reason, which are other comparisons you can make. Coleridge
died at 62, but the lines in his “Kubla Khan” remain, as Rudyard Kipling said,
“the most magical in the English language.”
If your instinct for liking what is good has served you well, trust it now. That
is the starting place for evaluating a poem. A good poem should have meaning
for you; it should make you think or wonder—and then think and wonder
again about its content.
Not all poetry, however, is good, even if it has been published, but it still
may be worthy of your consideration. If you examine rhythm or cadence in a
closed or open poem, you should be critical of the poet’s ability to maintain
the beat; if it has broken down without any plausible reason, perhaps the poet
tired of maintaining it, or forgot to. This failure might be one that caused you
not to like the poem, though you may not have known the reason why.
If a poem has relied heavily on images you do not understand, or offers
no hope whatsoever of being made clear, your evaluation will of course be
negative, and rightly so. (Some poets work hard not to be understood.) Other
poets, while seemingly accessible, are more subtle with the elements they employ,
and you may find their work seductive. A poem with an abundance of
metaphors or similes is one with too many images. On the other hand, a poem
stingy with these and other elements that poetry requires may offer too little
to engage you. Imprecise diction may echo like a wrong note played on a musical
instrument, but recall that it was the precision of most of the diction that
called your attention to the imprecision in the first place. Look for what
bounces best off your own sensibilities, taking note of the advice suggested
above. It may be worth knowing that for many poets, a poem remains an unfinished
work; he or she will often go back to even an already published work
in some cases and change something in it, which he or she believes will make
it better. For most of us, good poetry makes us feel a way we cannot always
explain other than to say, “good.”
Chapter 4 Writing about Poetry 59
Ways In: Reading and Writing about Literature and Film, 2/e 233Perkins−Perkins:
Selections from American
Spirituals, Blues,
Go Down, Moses © The McGraw−Hill
Companies, 2000
Go Down, Moses1
American Folksong
When Israel was in Egypt’s land:
Let my people go,
Oppress’d so hard they could not stand,
Let my people go.
Go down, Moses, 5
Way down in Egypt land,
Tell ole Pharaoh,
Let my people go.
Thus saith the Lord, bold Moses said,
Let my people go; 10
If not I’ll smite your first-born dead,
Let my people go.
Go down, Moses, &c.
No more shall they in bondage toil,
Let my people go; 15
Let them come out with Egypt’s spoil,
Let my people go.
Go down, Moses, &c.
When Israel out of Egypt came,
Let my people go; 20
And left the proud oppressive land,
Let my people go.
Go down, Moses, &c.
O, ’twas a dark and dismal night,
Let my people go; 25
When Moses led the Israelites,
Let my people go.
Go down, Moses, &c.
’Twas good old Moses and Aaron, too,
Let my people go; 30
’Twas they that led the armies through,
1 “Go Down, Moses” was taken from J. B. T. Marsh, The Story of the Jubilee Singers, revised edition, 1881. By the 1880s, the Fisk University
Jubilee Singers were a leading concert attraction, singing spirituals which had been little noticed in the years prior to the Civil War. Hampton
Institute, Tuskegee Institute, and other schools soon followed with their own fund-raising groups.
234 ENGL200Perkins−Perkins:
Selections from American
Spirituals, Blues,
Go Down, Moses © The McGraw−Hill
Companies, 2000
Let my people go.
Go down, Moses, &c.
The Lord told Moses what to do,
Let my people go; 35
To lead the children of Israel through,
Let my people go.
Go down, Moses, &c.
O come along, Moses, you’ll not get lost,
Let my people go; 40
Stretch out your rod and come across,
Let my people go.
Go down, Moses, &c.
As Israel stood by the water side,
Let my people go; 45
At the command of God it did divide,
Let my people go.
Go down, Moses, &c.
When they had reached the other shore,
Let my people go; 50
They sang a song of triumph o’er,
Let my people go.
Go down, Moses, &c.
Pharaoh said he would go across,
Let my people go; 55
But Pharaoh and his host were lost,
Let my people go.
Go down, Moses, &c.
O, Moses, the cloud shall cleave the way,
Let my people go; 60
A fire by night, a shade by day,
Let my people go.
Go down, Moses, &c.
You’ll not get lost in the wilderness,
Let my people go; 65
With a lighted candle in your breast,
Let my people go.
Go down, Moses, &c.
Blues Spirituals, Go Down, Moses 235Perkins−Perkins:
Selections from American
Spirituals, Blues,
Go Down, Moses © The McGraw−Hill
Companies, 2000
Jordan shall stand up like a wall,
Let my people go; 70
And the walls of Jericho shall fall,
Let my people go;
Go down, Moses, &c.
Your foes shall not before you stand,
Let my people go; 75
And you’ll possess fair Canaan’s land,
Let my people go.
Go down, Moses, &c.
’Twas just about in harvest time,
Let my people go; 80
When Joshua led his host divine,
Let my people go.
Go down, Moses, &c.
O let us all from bondage flee,
Let my people go; 85
And let us all in Christ be free,
Let my people go.
Go down, Moses, &c.
We need not always weep and moan,
Let my people go; 90
And wear these slavery chains forlorn,
Let my people go.
Go down, Moses, &c.
This world’s a wilderness of woe,
Let my people go; 95
O, let us on to Canaan go,
Let my people go.
Go down, Moses, &c.
What a beautiful morning that will be,
Let my people go; 100
When time breaks up in eternity,
Let my people go.
Go down, Moses, &c.
O bretheren, bretheren, you’d better be engaged,
Let my people go; 105
For the devil he’s out on a big rampage,
236 ENGL200Perkins−Perkins:
Selections from American
Spirituals, Blues,
Go Down, Moses © The McGraw−Hill
Companies, 2000
Let my people go.
Go down, Moses, &c.
The Devil he thought he had me fast,
Let my people go; 110
But I thought I’d break his chains at last,
Let my people go.
Go down, Moses, &c.
O take yer shoes from off yer feet,
Let my people go; 115
And walk into the golden street,
Let my people go.
Go down, Moses, &c.
I’ll tell you what I likes de best,
Let my people go; 120
It is the shouting Methodist,
Let my people go.
Go down, Moses, &c.
I do believe without a doubt,
Let my people go; 125
That a Christian has the right to shout,
Let my people go.
Go down, Moses, &c.
Blues Spirituals, Go Down, Moses 237Perkins−Perkins:
Selections from American
Robert Bly Driving to Town Late to
Mail a Letter
© The McGraw−Hill
Companies, 2007
Driving to Town Late to Mail a Letter
It is a cold and snowy night. The main street is deserted.
The only things moving are swirls of snow.
As I lift the mailbox door, I feel its cold iron.
There is a privacy I love in this snowy night.
Driving around, I will waste more time. 5
Reprinted from Silence in the Snowy Fields by Robert Bly, Wesleyan University Press, 1962, by permission
of Robert Bly.
238 ENGL200The iDeal Reader Anne Bradstreet, ‘‘To My
Dear and Loving Husband’’
Reading with Questions for
Discussion and Writing
© The McGraw−Hill
Companies, 2001
Anne Bradstreet (1612?–1672) was schooled by her father, who was the steward of the Earl
of Lincoln, in the Earl’s extensive library; thus, for her day, she was better schooled than most
women. In 1628 she married Simon Bradstreet, who was her father’s assistant. Being Puritans, Anne
and Simon, together with her parents, emigrated to the Massachusetts colony in 1630, enduring
the hardships of the first years of the Pilgrims in the New World. Despite the difficult living
conditions and having eight children, Bradstreet wrote poetry. Her themes were the typical Puritan
themes of sin and redemption, but she also wrote on domestic topics, such as her fear of dying in
childbirth, and the love for her children and husband. In 1650 she published The Tenth Muse Lately
Sprung Up in America, a collection of her poetry. This was revised and enlarged in 1678 as Several
Poems Compiled with Great Variety of Wit and Learning, Full of Delight
To My Dear and Loving Husband
Anne Bradstreet
If ever two were one, then surely we.
If ever man were loved by wife, then thee;
If ever wife was happy in a man,
Compare with me, ye women, if you can.
I prize thy love more than whole mines of gold, 5
Or all the riches that the East doth hold.
My love is such that rivers cannot quench,
Nor ought1 but love from thee, give recompense.
Thy love is such I can no way repay,
The heavens reward thee manifold, I pray. 10
Then while we live, in love let’s so persevere2
That when we live no more we may live ever.
1641–1643? 1678
Pronounced “per séver” in the seventeenth century.
Anne Bradstreet, To My Dear and Loving Husband: Reading with Questions for Discussion and Writing 239The iDeal Reader Anne Bradstreet, ‘‘To My
Dear and Loving Husband’’
Reading with Questions for
Discussion and Writing
© The McGraw−Hill
Companies, 2001
Questions for Discussion
1. Do you think Bradstreet’s love for her husband is realistic, or overstated? What words
and phrases support your interpretation?
2. What is the meaning of line 8?
3. What is the meaning of the last two lines? How do they relate to the rest of the poem?
4. How might this poem reflect a Puritan world view?
5. What are the images with which Bradstreet compares her love for her husband?
6. What word does Bradstreet repeat? What is the effect of repeating this word?
7. Bradstreet uses apostrophe, the poetic technique of directly addressing the subject of
the poem. How effective is this technique for this poem?
Questions for Reflection and Writing
1. Compare this poem to one or more love poems by other women poets. How are the
poems similar? How do they differ?
2. Find one or two images that you like in this poem and explain why they appeal to you.
3. Do some research into the life and times of Anne Bradstreet. What are some of the
Puritan themes that appear in her poetry? How did she balance her full domestic life
with her writing?
240 ENGL200Perkins−Perkins:
Selections from American
Bob Dylan A Hard Rain´s A−Gonna
© The McGraw−Hill
Companies, 2007
A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall1
Oh, where have you been, my blue-eyed son?
Oh, where have you been, my darling young one?
I’ve stumbled on the side of twelve misty mountains
I’ve walked and I’ve crawled on six crooked highways
I’ve stepped in the middle of seven sad forests 5
I’ve been out in front of a dozen dead oceans
I’ve been ten thousand miles in the mouth of a graveyard
And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, and it’s a hard
And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall
Oh, what did you see, my blue-eyed son? 10
Oh, what did you see, my darling young one?
I saw a newborn baby with wild wolves all around it
I saw a highway of diamonds with nobody on it
I saw a black branch with blood that kept drippin’
I saw a room full of men with their hammers a-bleedin’ 15
I saw a white ladder all covered with water
I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken
I saw guns and sharp swords in the hands of young children
And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall 20
And what did you hear, my blue-eyed son?
And what did you hear, my darling young one?
I heard the sound of a thunder, it roared out a warnin’
Heard the roar of a wave that could drown the whole world
Heard one hundred drummers whose hands were a-blazin’ 25
Heard ten thousand whisperin’ and nobody listenin’
Heard one person starve, I heard many people laughin’
Heard the song of a poet who died in the gutter
Heard the sound of a clown who cried in the alley
And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard 30
And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall
Oh, who did you meet, my blue-eyed son?
Who did you meet, my darling young one?
I met a young child beside a dead pony
I met a white man who walked a black dog 35
“A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” by Bob Dylan. Copyright © 1963 by Warner Bros. Inc. Copyright renewed
1991 by Special Rider Music. All rights reserved. International copyright secured. Reprinted by
1. This song is from The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan (1962).
Bob Dylan, A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall 241Perkins−Perkins:
Selections from American
Bob Dylan A Hard Rain´s A−Gonna
© The McGraw−Hill
Companies, 2007
I met a young woman whose body was burning
I met a young girl, she gave me a rainbow
I met one man who was wounded in love
I met another man who was wounded with hatred
And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard 40
It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall
Oh, what’ll you do now, my blue-eyed son?
Oh, what’ll you do now, my darling young one?
I’m a-goin’ back out ’fore the rain starts a-fallin’
I’ll walk to the depths of the deepest black forest 45
Where the people are many and their hands are all empty
Where the pellets of poison are flooding their waters
Where the home in the valley meets the damp dirty prison
Where the executioner’s face is always well hidden
Where hunger is ugly, where souls are forgotten 50
Where black is the color, where none is the number
And I’ll tell it and think it and speak it and breathe it
And reflect it from the mountain so all souls can see it
Then I’ll stand on the ocean until I start sinkin’

But I’ll know my song well before I start singin’ 55
And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall
242 ENGL200Perkins−Perkins:
Selections from American
Bob Dylan The Times They Are
© The McGraw−Hill
Companies, 2007
The Times They Are A-Changin’1
Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon 5
You’ll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’
Come writers and critics 10
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won’t come again
And don’t speak too soon
For the wheel’s still in spin 15
And there’s no tellin’ who that it’s namin’
For the loser now will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin’
Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call 20
Don’t stand in the doorway
Don’t block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There’s a battle outside and it is ragin’ 25
It’ll soon shake your windows and rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin’
Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don’t criticize 30
What you can’t understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is rapidly agin’
“The Times They Are A-Changin’” by Bob Dylan. Copyright © 1963 by Warner Bros. Inc. Copyright
renewed 1991 by Special Rider Music. All rights reserved. International copyright secured. Reprinted by
1. This song is from The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan (1962).
Bob Dylan, The Times They Are A-Changin’ 243Perkins−Perkins:
Selections from American
Bob Dylan The Times They Are
© The McGraw−Hill
Companies, 2007
Please get out of the new one if you can’t lend your hand 35
For the times they are a-changin’
The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast 40
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is rapidly fadin’
And the first one now will later be last
For the times they are a-changin’ 45
244 ENGL200Perkins−Perkins:
Selections from American
Robert Frost Mending Wall © The McGraw−Hill
Companies, 2007
Mending Wall
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it
And spills the upper boulders in the sun,
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing: 5
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made, 10
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go. 15
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
“Stay where you are until our backs are turned!”
We wear our fingers rough with handling them. 20
Oh, just another kind of outdoor game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across 25
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, “Good fences make good neighbors.”
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
“Why do they make good neighbors? Isn’t it 30
Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offense.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall, 35
That wants it down.” I could say “Elves” to him,
But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather
He said it for himself. I see him there,
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed. 40
Robert Frost, Mending Wall 245Perkins−Perkins:
Selections from American
Robert Frost Mending Wall © The McGraw−Hill
Companies, 2007
He moves in darkness as it seems to me,
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father’s saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, “Good fences make good neighbors.” 45
246 ENGL200Perkins−Perkins:
Selections from American
Robert Frost The Road Not Taken © The McGraw−Hill
Companies, 2007
The Road Not Taken
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth; 5
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that, the passing there
Had worn them really about the same, 10
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back. 15
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference. 20
1915, 1916
Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken 247Perkins−Perkins:
Selections from American
Woody Guthrie Plane Wreck at Los Gatos © The McGraw−Hill
Companies, 2007
Plane Wreck at Los Gatos1
The crops are all in and the peaches are rott’ning,
The oranges piled in their creosote dumps;
You’re flying ’em back to the Mexican border,
To pay all their money to wade back again.
Goodbye to my Juan, goodbye, Rosalita,2 5
Adios mis amigos, Jesus y Maria;
You won’t have your names when you ride the big airplane,
All they will call you will be “deportees.”
My father’s own father, he waded that river,
They took all the money he made in his life; 10
My brothers and sisters come working the fruit trees,
And they rode the truck till they took down and died.
Some of us are illegal, and some are not wanted,
Our work contract’s out and we have to move on;
Six hundred miles to that Mexican border, 15
They chase us like outlaws, like rustlers, like thieves.
We died in your hills, we died in your deserts,
We died in your valleys and died on your plains,
We died ’neath your trees and we died in your bushes,
Both sides of the river, we died just the same. 20
The sky plane caught fire over Los Gatos Canyon,
A fireball of lightning, and shook all our hills,
Who are all these friends, all scattered like dry leaves?
The radio says they are just deportees.
Is this the best way we can grow our big orchards? 25
Is this the best way we can grow our good fruit?
To fall like dry leaves to rot on my topsoil
And be called by no name except deportees?
Words by Woody Guthrie; Music by Martin Hoffman. TRO–© Copyright 1961 (Renewed) 1963 (Renewed)
Ludlow Music, Inc., New York, NY. Used by Permission.
1. On January 28, 1948, a chartered plane “carrying 28 Mexican farm workers from Oakland to the El
Centro, CA, Deportation Center” (New York Times) crashed, killing all twenty-eight.
2. The second stanza is a refrain, usually repeated after each succeeding stanza. The song remained a
poem until a decade later, when Martin Hoffman put it to music and Pete Seeger began singing it.
248 ENGL200Perkins−Perkins:
Selections from American
Woody Guthrie This Land Is Your Land © The McGraw−Hill
Companies, 2007
This Land Is Your Land
This land is your land, This land is my land,
From California to the New York island;
From the red wood forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and me.
As I was walking that ribbon of highway, 5
I saw above me that endless skyway;
I saw below me that golden valley;
This land was made for you and me.
I’ve roamed and rambled and I followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts; 10
And all around me a voice was sounding:
This land was made for you and me.
When the sun came shining, and I was strolling,
And the wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling,
As the fog was lifting a voice was chanting: 15
This land was made for you and me.
As I went walking, I saw a sign there,
And on the sign it said “No Trespassing,”
But on the other side it didn’t say nothing,
That side was made for you and me. 20
In the shadow of the steeple I saw my people,
By the relief office I seen my people;
As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking
Is this land made for you and me?
Nobody living can ever stop me, 25
As I go walking that freedom highway;
Nobody living can ever make me turn back,
This land was made for you and me.
Words and Music by Woody Guthrie. TRO– © Copyright 1956 (Renewed) 1958 (Renewed) 1970
(Renewed) 1972 (Renewed) Ludlow Music, Inc., New York, NY. Used by Permission.
Woody Guthrie, This Land Is Your Land 249Perkins−Perkins:
Selections from American
Langston Hughes Harlem © The McGraw−Hill
Companies, 2007
What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore—
And then run? 5
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over—
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load. 10
Or does it explode?
Print rights: “Harlem,” from The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes by Langston Hughes, copyright
© 1994 by The Estate of Langston Hughes. Used by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random
House, Inc. Online rights: “Harlem,” from The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes by Langston
Hughes. Reprinted by permission of Harold Ober Associates Incorporated. Copyright © 1994 by The
Estate of Langston Hughes.
250 ENGL200The iDeal Reader Langston Hughes, ‘‘The
Negro Speaks of Rivers’’
Reading with Questions for
Discussion and Writing
© The McGraw−Hill
Companies, 2004
angston Hughes (1902–1967) was born in Joplin, Missouri, and lived in Kansas, Illinois,
and Ohio before studying at Columbia University and earning an A.B. from Lincoln University
in 1929. Hughes was a prolific writer of poetry, plays, songs, fiction, and nonfiction. Much of
Hughes’s writing offers a transcription of urban life through a portrayal of the speech, habits,
attitudes, and feelings of an oppressed people. His work does more, however, than reveal the pain
of poverty—it also illustrates racial pride and dignity. Hughes’s many books include the poetry
collection Montage of a Dream Deferred (1951), the novel Tambourines to Glory (1958), the shortstory
collection The Ways of White Folks (1934), and the nonfiction work Black Misery (1969).
Among his many awards and honors, Hughes won a Guggenheim Fellowship and an Anisfeld-Wolfe
Award. “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” was first published in 1921 in the NAACP journal The Crisis
and reprinted in Hughes’s first collection of poetry,
The Weary Blues (1926).
The Negro Speaks of Rivers
Langston Hughes
I’ve known rivers:
I’ve known rivers ancient as the world and older than the
flow of human blood in human veins.
My soul has grown deep like the rivers.
I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young.
I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep.
I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it.
I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln
went down to New Orleans, and I’ve seen its muddy
bosom turn all golden in the sunset.
I’ve known rivers:
Ancient, dusky rivers.
My soul has grown deep like the rivers.
From The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes, published by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Copyright © 1994 the Estate of Langston Hughes. Used with
Questions for Discussion
1. You know where the Mississippi River is, right? If you don’t know the locations of
the Euphrates, Congo, or the Nile consult an almanac, atlas, or map. How does knowledge
of this geography help inform you regarding this poem?
2. Discuss the implications of the lines: “I’ve known rivers ancient as the world and older
than the/flow of human blood in human veins” in the context of the poem.
Langston Hughes, The Negro Speaks of Rivers: Reading with Questions for Discussion and Writing 251The iDeal Reader Langston Hughes, ‘‘The
Negro Speaks of Rivers’’
Reading with Questions for
Discussion and Writing
© The McGraw−Hill
Companies, 2004
3. Note the instances of repetition in the poem. How can this repetition be seen to
contribute to the meaning of the poem?
4. What was Abe Lincoln doing in New Orleans? If you don’t know, guess, then look it
up. When you know (or if you already knew), how does this bit of historical information
fit in with the rest of the poem? If you guessed, how close were you?
5. Hughes’s work is often described in conjunction with music. In what ways can this
poem be said to be musical?
Questions for Reflection and Writing
1. This page <http://www.poets.org/poems/poems.cfm?45442B7C000C07030C71> has
a link that will let you download “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” read by Hughes. Read
the poem along with him. How does your reading differ from his? What’s similar about
your readings?
2. Hughes uses rivers as a device to tell a story of a people. What people? What device or
image would you use to tell the story of your own people? How do you define “your
own people”?
3. Think of the rivers you have seen in person. Which ones have you seen? How old were
you? What were you doing, generally, at the time? What is it about rivers, do you think,
that makes them such widely used objects and images in art?
4. Interested in putting Hughes into a historical context? This page <http://www.
writingproject.org/Resources/hughes.htm> from the National Writing Project will
be a great help in getting your research started. Click over and you’ll find links to critical
writings, biographies, and even some information about a stamp featuring Hughes.
252 ENGL200The iDeal Reader Christopher Marlowe, ‘‘The
Passionate Shepard to His
Reading with Questions for
Discussion and Writing
© The McGraw−Hill
Companies, 2002
Christopher Marlowe (1564–1593) led a brief life filled with controversy. At Corpus Christi
College, Cambridge, college authorities hesitated to grant him his degree, apparently dubious
about his frequent absences and suspicious of his political loyalties. A letter from the Privy Council
implied that his absences were spent in service to Queen Elizabeth, and the degree was granted.
In 1589, he and fellow poet Thomas Watson were jailed on charges of murder for their part in a
street fight in which a young man was killed, but both were later released. In May 1593, playwright
Thomas Kyd testified before a government council that Marlowe was an atheist, a charge later
repeated by a government informant; Marlowe was questioned and released. Twelve days later, in
the company of notorious spy Robert Poley, Marlowe was killed in a tavern, supposedly over a dispute
concerning the bill. Many have speculated that he was, rather, murdered for political reasons. After
Shakespeare, Marlowe was the greatest dramatic writer in English during the sixteenth century. His
masterpieces are Tamburlaine and Doctor Faustus, and his major poetic work is Hero and Leander,
an original treatment of the mythical story of two drowned lovers. In “The Passionate Shepherd to
His Love,” one of his most famous lyrics, Marlowe adopts the conventions of pastoral poetry (a
The Passionate Shepherd to His Love
Christopher Marlowe
Come live with me and be my love,
And we will all the pleasures prove
That valleys, groves, hills, and fields,
Woods, or steepy mountain yields.
conventional mode that celebrates the innocent life of shepherds and shepherdesses).
And we will sit upon the rocks,
Seeing the shepherds feed their flocks
By shallow rivers, to whose falls
Melodious birds sing madrigals.
And I will make thee beds of roses
And a thousand fragrant posies,
A cap of flowers and a kirtle°
Embroidered all with leaves of myrtle;
A gown made of the finest wool
Which from our pretty lambs we pull;
Fair-linèd slippers for the cold,
With buckles of the purest gold;
A belt of straw and ivy buds,
With coral clasps and amber studs.
11 kirtle skirt
Christopher Marlowe, The Passionate Shepherd to His Love: Reading with Questions for Discussion and Writing 253The iDeal Reader Christopher Marlowe, ‘‘The
Passionate Shepard to His
Reading with Questions for
Discussion and Writing
© The McGraw−Hill
Companies, 2002
And if these pleasures may thee move,
Come live with me and be my love.
The shepherds’ swains shall dance and sing
For thy delight each May morning.
If these delights thy mind may move,
Then live with me and be my love.
Questions for Discussion, Reflection, and Writing
1. What kind of argument does the shepherd construct to persuade the nymph? What
kinds of support does he use?
2. What kind of life will the two lead, if she accepts his proposal?
3. Giving him the benefit of the doubt for a moment, what does the “shepherd” actually
offer here? How would he expect the “nymph” to understand his offerings?
§. Connect the readings: Compare the pleas of the “shepherd” here to the response of
the “nymph” in Raleigh’s “The Nymph’s Reply.” Whose argument do you find more
254 ENGL200The iDeal Reader Andrew Marvell, ‘‘To His
Coy Mistress’’
Reading © The McGraw−Hill
Companies, 2002
Andrew Marvell (1621–1678) was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge. He was
sympathetic to the Crown until his appointment as tutor to Mary Fairfax, daughter of one of
Cromwell’s generals, at which time he switched his loyalty to the Puritan cause. Marvell later served
under Cromwell as Assistant Latin Secretary, and he soon became a close friend of Milton. After
Cromwell’s death, Marvell entered Parliament, where he served for almost twenty years. During
the Restoration, he wrote bitter satires in prose and verse that, while not read much today, brought
him some fame in his time. Today, we remember him for his lyric poetry. “To His Coy Mistress”
(1681) is an example of carpe diem lyric—poetry exhorting listeners to “seize the day, for tomorrow
To His Coy Mistress
Andrew Marvell
we die”—noteworthy especially for its wit and playful irony.
Had we but world enough, and time,
This coyness, lady, were no crime.
We would sit down, and think which way
To walk, and pass our long love’s day.
Thou by the Indian Ganges’ side 5
Shouldst rubies find; I by the tide
Of Humber° would complain. I would
Love you ten years before the flood,
And you should, if you please, refuse
Till the conversion of the Jews.° 10
My vegetable° love should grow
Vaster than empires, and more slow;
An hundred years should go to praise
Thine eyes, and on thy forehead gaze;
Two hundred to adore each breast, 15
But thirty thousand to the rest;
An age at least to every part,
And the last age should show your heart.
For, lady, you deserve this state,°
Nor would I love at lower rate. 20
But at my back I always hear
Time’s wingèd chariot hurrying near;
And yonder all before us lie
Deserts of vast eternity.
Humber an English river
conversion of the Jews at the end of time
vegetable flourishing
state stateliness; pomp
Andrew Marvell, To His Coy Mistress 255The iDeal Reader Andrew Marvell, ‘‘To His
Coy Mistress’’
Reading © The McGraw−Hill
Companies, 2002
Thy beauty shall no more be found; 25
Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound
My echoing song; then worms shall try
That long-preserved virginity,
And your quaint honor turn to dust,
And into ashes all my lust: 30
The grave’s a fine and private place,
But none, I think, do there embrace.
Now therefore, while the youthful hue
Sits on thy skin like morning glow,
And while thy willing soul transpires 35
At every pore with instant fires,
Now let us sport us while we may,
And now, like amorous birds of prey,
Rather at once our time devour
Than languish in his slow-chapped° power. 40
Let us roll all our strength and all
Our sweetness up into one ball,
And tear our pleasures with rough strife
Thorough the iron gates of life:
Thus, though we cannot make our sun 45
Stand still, yet we will make him run.
chapped jawed
256 ENGL200The iDeal Reader Sir Walter Raleigh, ‘‘The
Nymph’s Reply’’
Reading with Questions for
Discussion and Writing
© The McGraw−Hill
Companies, 2002
Sir Walter Raleigh (ca. 1552–1618) represented to his contemporaries the Elizabethan
Renaissance ideal of the complete individual. Raleigh was a poet, historian, courtier, explorer,
colonist, seaman, soldier, and diplomat. The fact that he more often than not failed at his many
pursuits did not interfere with his symbolic stature. Found guilty of conspiring against the newly
installed King James I, Raleigh was sentenced to death in 1603 and spent fifteen years imprisoned
in the Tower of London before his execution in 1618. His poetry is informed with a keen awareness
of the transitory nature of existence.
The Nymph’s Reply
Sir Walter Raleigh
If all the world and love were young,
And truth in every shepherd’s tongue,
These pretty pleasures might me move
To live with thee and be thy love.
Time drives the flocks from field to fold,
When rivers rage and rocks grow cold,
And Philomel° becometh dumb;
The rest complains of cares to come.
The flowers do fade, and wanton fields
To wayward winter reckoning yields;
A honey tongue, a heart of gall,
Is fancy’s spring, but sorrow’s fall.
Thy gowns, thy shoes, thy beds of roses,
Thy cap, thy kirtle,° and thy posies
Soon break, soon wither, soon forgotten,—
In folly ripe, in reason rotten.
Thy belt of straw and ivy buds,
The coral clasps and amber studs,
All these in me no means can move
To come to thee and be thy love.
But could youth last and love still breed,
Had joys no date nor age no need,
Then these delights my mind might move
To live with thee and be thy love.
7 Philomel the nightingale
14 kirtle skirt
Sir Walter Raleigh, The Nymph’s Reply: Reading with Questions for Discussion and Writing 257The iDeal Reader Sir Walter Raleigh, ‘‘The
Nymph’s Reply’’
Reading with Questions for
Discussion and Writing
© The McGraw−Hill
Companies, 2002
Questions for Discussion, Reflection, and Writing
1. What is the gist of the “nymph’s” argument here? How do you think the “shepherd”
might respond?
2. How does the poet weave the imagery of the passing seasons into the argument against
the shepherd?
3. What is it, exactly, that the nymph prefers in line 17 to a “belt of straw and ivy buds”?
§. Connect the readings: Raleigh’s poem is an explicit reply to Marlowe’s “The Passionate
Shepherd to His Love.” Find and read this poem. Who, in your opinion, makes the
better argument? Why?
§. Connect the readings: To what end is the image of fading flowers used in this poem?
Find other examples of this image—for example, in Robert Herrick’s “To the Virgins”—
and discuss the differences in the way it is used.
258 ENGL200Perkins−Perkins:
Selections from American
Theodore Roethke My Papa’s Waltz © The McGraw−Hill
Companies, 2007
My Papa’s Waltz
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 5
Slid from the kitchen shelf;
My mother’s countenance
Could not unfrown itself.
The hand that held my wrist
Was battered on one knuckle; 10
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 15
Still clinging to your shirt.
“My Papa’s Waltz,” copyright 1942 by Hearst Magazines, Inc., from The Collected Poems of Theodore
Roethke by Theodore Roethke. Used by permission of Doubleday, a division of Random House, Inc.


Theodore Roethke, My Papa’s Waltz 259The iDeal Reader Christina Rossetti, ‘‘Uphill’’ Reading with Questions for
Discussion and Writing
© The McGraw−Hill
Companies, 2002
Christina Rossetti’s (1830–1894) father was an Italian political refugee, and her brother
was the poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Christina was a devout High Anglican who dedicated her
life to caring for relatives and doing good works for the church and charity. She broke off two
engagements because, by her standards, neither man proved sufficiently devout. The apparent
simplicity of many of her poems often masks complex emotional underpinnings. Many of her poems
Christina Rossetti
Does the road wind uphill all the way?
deal with painful breakups. “Uphill” (1862), a religious allegory, is one of her most famous poems..
Yes, to the very end.
Will the day’s journey take the whole long day?
From morn to night, my friend.
But is there for the night a resting-place? 5
A roof for when the slow dark hours begin.
May not the darkness hide it from my face?
You cannot miss that inn.
Shall I meet other wayfarers at night?
Those who have gone before. 10
Then must I knock, or call when just in sight?
They will not keep you standing at that door.
Shall I find comfort, travel-sore and weak?
Of labor you shall find the sum.
Will there be beds for me and all who seek? 15
Yea, beds for all who come.
Questions for Discussion, Reflection, and Writing
1. This poem a devotional allegory. Given this, what do you think the road stands for?
The day? The inn? The beds?
2. What do you think of the tone of the poem? Point to specific lines that support your
§. Connect the readings: Compare this poem to Donne’s “Death Be Not Proud” or Keats’s
“When I Have Fears” in terms of the way it attempts to grapple with a common
human fear.
260 ENGL200The iDeal Reader Percy Bysshe Shelley,
Reading © The McGraw−Hill
Companies, 2001
Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792–1822) was a well-born, thoughtful, serious boy who was often
bullied at school. He was interested in many fields and studied medicine, philosophy, science,
and literature. His studies, his experiences, and perhaps even his being bullied, resulted in radical
political ideas that championed the causes of the working class and urged social and religious reform.
At Oxford he became close friends with another student, Thomas Jefferson Hogg, and the two of
them wrote The Necessity of Atheism, a pamplet defending atheism. For this they were expelled.
Shelley had also written a gothic novel, Zastrozzi, a gothic poem, “St. Irvyne,” and with Hogg a
collection of erotic poetry, Posthumous Fragments of Margaret Nicholson, which they published as
the writings of a madwoman. None of these works reflects Shelley’s mature style. From 1810 to 1812,
Shelley and Hogg, expelled, spent their time together. During this time Shelley met and fell in love
with sixteen-year-old Harriet Westbrook, and in 1811 they eloped. But in 1814 Shelley also fell
in love with Mary Godwin, the sixteen-year-old daughter of the philosopher William Godwin,
whom he had met two years previously. He and Mary eloped to Europe, although Shelley continued
to provide for Harriet and their two children. In 1816 Harriet killed herself, and Shelley and
Mary married, spending the summer in Switzerland where Shelley met and became close friends
with Byron. In 1818, after a brief time back in England, Shelley and Mary moved permanently to
Italy, where Shelley had his most productive years. There he wrote his masterpiece verse drama
Prometheus Unbound (1819) and Adonais: An Elegy on the Death of John Keats(1821). In 1822 Shelley
and a friend drowned when their sailboat capsized during a storm. Much of Shelley’s work reflects
his political beliefs about social reform, atheism, free love, and equality of the classes and sexes.
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, ash attered visage lies, whose frown,
A recurring theme is nature as a life force evoking imagination and love.
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command, 5
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: 10
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.
Percy Bysshe Shelley, Ozymandias 261The iDeal Reader Dylan Thomas, ‘‘Do Not Go
Gentle into That Good
Reading with Questions for
Discussion and Writing
© The McGraw−Hill
Companies, 2002
Dylan Thomas (1914–1953) was born in the Welsh seaport of Swansea, where his formal
education began and ended at Swansea Grammar School. With the publication of Eighteen
Poems in 1934, Thomas achieved widespread and immediate fame. His lyrical poetry features vivid
metaphors, Christian and Freudian imagery, puns, and intricate patterns of sound, yet it tends to
be more immediately accessible and emotional than many of the moderns’ works. His colorful
personality and melodious speaking voice made his reading tours the most successful of any poet in
this century. While on his third American reading tour, Thomas died in New York City after a
Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night
Dylan Thomas
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
reckless drinking binge. “Do Not Go Gentle” was first published in 1952.
Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Printed by permission of New Directions Publishing Corp.
262 ENGL200The iDeal Reader Dylan Thomas, ‘‘Do Not Go
Gentle into That Good
Reading with Questions for
Discussion and Writing
© The McGraw−Hill
Companies, 2002
Questions for Discussion, Reflection, and Writing
1. To whom is the poem addressed? How did you arrive at your conclusion?
2. What is the tone of the poem?
3. What is “that good night”? In what way(s) is the thing described like the night?
4. In what way is the “night” good? Is there any contradiction in the warning not to yield
to it?
5. Why do the different kinds of men the poet identifies all “rage against the dying of the
light”? Why should they?
§ Connect the readings: Compare this poem to another poem that addresses mortality,
such as Milton’s “When I Consider How My Light Is Spent,” Keats’s “When I Have
Fears That I May Cease to Be,” and Donne’s “Death Be Not Proud.”
Dylan Thomas, Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night: Reading with Questions for Discussion and Writing 263The iDeal Reader Phillis Wheatley, ‘‘Liberty
and Peace’’
Reading with Questions for
Discussion and Writing
© The McGraw−Hill
Companies, 2001
Liberty and Peace
Phillis Wheatley
LO! Freedom comes. Th’ prescient Muse foretold,
All Eyes th’ accomplish’d Prophecy behold:
Her Port describ’d, “She moves divinely fair,
“Olive and Laurel bind her golden Hair.”
She, the bright Progeny of Heaven, descends, 5
And every Grace her sovereign Step attends;
For now kind Heaven, indulgent to our Prayer,
In smiling Peace resolves the Din of War.
Fix’d in Columbia her illustrious Line,
And bids in thee her future Councils shine. 10
To every Realm her Portals open’d wide,
Receives from each the full commercial Tide.
Each Art and Science now with rising Charms
Th’ expanding Heart with Emulation warms.
E’en great Britannia sees with dread Surprize, 15
And from the dazzling Splendors turns her Eyes!
Phillis Wheatley (1754?–1784) was taken from her home in Senegal, West Africa, and sold
into slavery. She was just seven years old. She was on a ship bound for the West Indies, but
because of her youth and apparent frailty, she was not sold there but brought to Boston with others
who had not been sold. There, the slave ship’s captain thinking she was dying, Wheatley was
sold to Susanna Wheatley. The Wheatleys soon discovered her literary talent and so taught her
to read and write along with their own children. She read the classics, history, astronomy, and
religious writing, and was soon writing poetry. Wheatley’s first published poem, at the age of thirteen,
told the story of a rescue at sea and was published locally. A year later, however, her Elegiac Poem
was published and gained her national and then international fame. By the time she was eighteen,
she had published 28 poems, first published in London as Poems on Various Subjects. In 1771 she
went to London accompanied by Nathanial, the Wheatley family’s son. Her notoriety brought many
people to see her, including abolitionists, who made her their cause célèbre. Back in the colonies,
Wheatley was once again the family’s slave, and the Wheatleys did not free her until 1774, after
which she stayed on as a paid servant and continued to write poetry. By 1778, however, the
Wheatleys had all died, leaving Phillis in a difficult situation. Although she married John Peters
that year, she did not get any financial security. Peters was a skilled businessman, but as a black man
he could not get his business ventures accepted by the white business community. As a result,
Wheatley, never very strong, slowly exhausted her energy working as a cleaning woman and raising
three children. Although she continued to write poems, she could not interest the local publishers
to print them. Scholars estimate that she wrote perhaps 145 poems, but most have been lost. In
December of 1784, with her three children having all died young, and her husband in debtor’s
jail, Wheatley died alone.
264 ENGL200The iDeal Reader Phillis Wheatley, ‘‘Liberty
and Peace’’
Reading with Questions for
Discussion and Writing
© The McGraw−Hill
Companies, 2001
Britain, whose Navies swept th’ Atlantic o’er,
And Thunder sent to every distant Shore;
E’en thou, in Manners cruel as thou art,
The Sword resign’d, resume the friendly Part! 20
For Galia’s Power espous’d Columbia’s Cause,
And new-born Rome shall give Britannia Law,
Nor unremember’d in the grateful Strain,
Shall princely Louis’ friendly Deeds remain;
The generous Prince th’ impending Vengeance eye’s, 25
Sees the fierce Wrong, and to the rescue flies.
Perish that Thirst of boundless Power, that drew
On Albion’s Head the Curse to Tyrants due.
But thou appeas’d submit to Heaven’s decree,
That bids this Realm of Freedom rival thee! 30
Now sheathe the Sword that bade the Brave attone
With guiltless Blood for Madness not their own.
Sent from th’ Enjoyment of their native Shore
Ill-fated-never to behold her more!
From every Kingdom on Europa’s Coast 35
Throng’d various Troops, their Glory, Strength and Boast.
With heart-felt pity fair Hibernia saw
Columbia menac’d by the Tyrant’s Law:
On hostile Fields fraternal Arms engage,
And mutual Deaths, all dealt with mutual Rage: 40
The Muse’s Ear hears mother Earth deplore
Her ample Surface smoake with kindred Gore:
The hostile Field destroys the social Ties,
And every-lasting Slumber seals their Eyes.
Columbia mourns, the haughty Foes deride, 45
Her Treasures plunder’d, and her Towns destroy’d:
Witness how Charlestown’s curling Smoaks arise,
In sable Columns to the clouded Skies!
The ample Dome, high-wrought with curious Toil,
In one sad Hour the savage Troops despoil. 50
Descending Peace and Power of War confounds;
From every Tongue celestial Peace resounds:
As for the East th’ illustrious King of Day,
With rising Radiance drives the Shades away,
So Freedom comes array’d with Charms divine, 55
And in her Train Commerce and Plenty shine.
Britannia owns her Independent Reign,
Hibernia, Scotia, and the Realms of Spain;
Phillis Wheatley, Liberty and Peace: Reading with Questions for Discussion and Writing 265The iDeal Reader Phillis Wheatley, ‘‘Liberty
and Peace’’
Reading with Questions for
Discussion and Writing
© The McGraw−Hill
Companies, 2001
And great Germania’s ample Coast admires
The generous Spirit that Columbia fires. 60
Auspicious Heaven shall fill with fav’ring Gales,
Where e’er Columbia spreads her swelling Sails:
To every Realm shall Peace her Charms display,
And Heavenly Freedom spread her golden Ray.
Questions for Discussion
1. What does Wheatley think of Liberty and Peace? What kind of liberty and peace does
she espouse?
2. What is the relationship between Liberty and Peace?
3. What must happen before liberty and peace can be attained?
4. Who or what are the following: Britannia, Galia, Columbia, Albion, Europa, Hibernia,
Scotia, and Germania? What is each one’s function in helping to bring about liberty
and peace?
5. Why might Wheatley have used the elaborate imagery of this poem?
6. In what places is the reader positioned to view the scenes? What can the reader see
from each position that is significant?
7. Where does Wheatley use personification and allegory? What might have been her
purposes for using these literary techniques?
Questions for Reflection and Writing
1. Describe Freedom as Wheatley describes “her.” Paraphrase the poem, providing a lineby-line
restatement of Wheatley’s words.
2. After you have paraphrased the poem, write a brief interpretation of it.
3. Paraphrase the poem, as above, and write an interpretation of it in the context of
historical events at the time of its writing.
266 ENGL200Perkins−Perkins:
Selections from American
Phillis Wheatley On Being Brought from
Africa to America
© The McGraw−Hill
Companies, 2007
On Being Brought from Africa to America
’Twas mercy brought me from my Pagan land,
Taught my benighted soul to understand
That there’s a God, that there’s a Saviour too:
Once I redemption neither sought nor knew.
Some view our sable race with scornful eye, 5
“Their colour is a diabolic die.”1
Remember, Christians, Negroes, black as Cain,
May be refin’d, and join th’ angelic train.
1768 1773
1. Dye.
Phillis Wheatley, On Being Brought from Africa to America 267Perkins−Perkins:
Selections from American
Walt Whitman Out of the Cradle Endlessly
© The McGraw−Hill
Companies, 2007
Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking1
Out of the cradle endlessly rocking,
Out of the mocking-bird’s throat, the musical shuttle,
Out of the Ninth-month2 midnight,
Over the sterile sands and the fields beyond, where the child leaving his bed
wander’d alone, bareheaded, barefoot,
Down from the shower’d halo, 5
Up from the mystic play of shadows twining and twisting as if they were alive,
Out from the patches of briers and blackberries,
From the memories of the bird that chanted to me,
From your memories sad brother, from the fitful risings and fallings I heard,
From under that yellow half-moon late-risen and swollen as if with tears, 10
From those beginning notes of yearning and love there in the mist,
From the thousand responses of my heart never to cease,
From the myriad thence-arous’d words,
From the word stronger and more delicious than any,
From such as now they start the scene revisiting, 15
As a flock, twittering, rising, or overhead passing,
Borne hither, ere all eludes me, hurriedly,
A man, yet by these tears a little boy again,
Throwing myself on the sand, confronting the waves,
I, chanter of pains and joys, uniter of here and hereafter, 20
Taking all hints to use them, but swiftly leaping beyond them,
A reminiscence sing.
Once Paumanok,3
When the lilac-scent was in the air and Fifth-month grass was growing,
Up this seashore in some briers, 25
Two feather’d guests from Alabama, two together,
And their nest, and four light-green eggs spotted with brown,
And every day the he-bird to and fro near at hand,
And every day the she-bird crouch’d on her nest, silent, with bright eyes,
And every day I, a curious boy, never too close, never disturbing them, 30
Cautiously peering, absorbing, translating.
1. “Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking” became the first poem in a section titled “Sea-Drift” in the
1881 edition of Leaves of Grass. In the 1871 edition this section was titled “Sea-Shore Memories.” The
sea provided inspiration for Whitman, who in these poems hints at some of the major crises of his life.
2. The Quaker designation for September may here also suggest the human cycle of fertility and birth,
in contrast with “sterile sands” in the next line.
3. Whitman liked the Indian name for Long Island (“a fish” or “fish shaped”). This poem, like “Starting
from Paumanok,” deals with the genesis of his life.
268 ENGL200Perkins−Perkins:
Selections from American
Walt Whitman Out of the Cradle Endlessly
© The McGraw−Hill
Companies, 2007
Shine! shine! shine!
Pour down your warmth, great sun!
While we bask, we two together.
Two together! 35
Winds blow south, or winds blow north,
Day come white, or night come black,
Home, or rivers and mountains from home,
Singing all time, minding no time,
While we two keep together.4 40
Till of a sudden,
May-be kill’d, unknown to her mate,
One forenoon the she-bird crouch’d not on the nest,
Nor return’d that afternoon, nor the next,
Nor ever appear’d again. 45
And thenceforward all summer in the sound of the sea,
And at night under the full of the moon in calmer weather,
Over the hoarse surging of the sea,
Or flitting from brier to brier by day,
I saw, I heard at intervals the remaining one, the he-bird, 50
The solitary guest from Alabama.
Blow! blow! blow!
Blow up sea-winds along Paumanok’s shore;
I wait and I wait till you blow my mate to me.
Yes, when the stars glisten’d, 55
All night long on the prong of a moss-scallop’d stake,
Down almost amid the slapping waves,
Sat the lone singer wonderful causing tears.
He call’d on his mate,
He pour’d forth the meaning which I of all men know. 60
Yes my brother I know,
The rest might not, but I have treasur’d every note,
For more than once dimly down to the beach gliding,
Silent, avoiding the moonbeams, blending myself with the shadows,
Recalling now the obscure shapes, the echoes, the sounds and sights after their
sorts, 65
The white arms out in the breakers tirelessly tossing,
I, with bare feet, a child, the wind wafting my hair,
Listen’d long and long.
4. The mockingbird songs were altered for rhythmic verisimilitude in several editions subsequent to the
magazine publication of 1859. Whitman, himself an ornithologist, had also the advice of his friend John
Burroughs, the talented naturalist. Note the characteristic reiteration and the staccato twittering (e.g., ll.
80, 91–92, 111).
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Listen’d to keep, to sing, now translating the notes,
Following you my brother. 70
Soothe! soothe! soothe!
Close on its wave soothes the wave behind,
And again another behind embracing and lapping, every one close,
But my love soothes not me, not me.
Low hangs the moon, it rose late, 75
It is lagging—O I think it is heavy with love, with love.
O madly the sea pushes upon the land,
With love, with love.
O night! do I not see my love fluttering out among the breakers?
What is that little black thing I see there in the white? 80
Loud! loud! loud!
Loud I call to you, my love!
High and clear I shoot my voice over the waves,
Surely you must know who is here, is here,
You must know who I am, my love. 85
Low-hanging moon!
What is that dusky spot in your brown yellow?
O it is the shape, the shape of my mate!
O moon do not keep her from me any longer.
Land! land! O land! 90
Whichever way I turn, O I think you could give me my mate back again if you
only would,
For I am almost sure I see her dimly whichever way I look.
O rising stars!
Perhaps the one I want so much will rise, will rise with some of you.
O throat! O trembling throat! 95
Sound clearer through the atmosphere!
Pierce the woods, the earth,
Somewhere listening to catch you must be the one I want.
Shake out carols!
Solitary here, the night’s carols! 100
Carols of lonesome love! death’s carols!
Carols under that lagging, yellow, waning moon!
O under that moon where she droops almost down into the sea!
O reckless despairing carols.
But soft! sink low! 105
Soft! let me just murmur,
And do you wait a moment you husky-nois’d sea,
For somewhere I believe I heard my mate responding to me,
270 ENGL200Perkins−Perkins:
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So faint, I must be still, be still to listen,
But not altogether still, for then she might not come immediately to me. 110
Hither my love!
Here I am! here!
With this just-sustain’d note I announce myself to you,
This gentle call is for you my love, for you.
Do not be decoy’d elsewhere, 115
That is the whistle of the wind, it is not my voice,
That is the fluttering, the fluttering of the spray,
Those are the shadows of leaves.
O darkness! O in vain!
O I am very sick and sorrowful. 120
O brown halo in the sky near the moon, drooping upon the sea!
O troubled reflection in the sea!
O throat! O throbbing heart!
And I singing uselessly, uselessly all the night.
O past! O happy life! O songs of joy! 125
In the air, in the woods, over fields,
Loved! loved! loved! loved! loved!
But my mate no more, no more with me!
We two together no more.
The aria sinking,5 130
All else continuing, the stars shining,
The winds blowing, the notes of the bird continuous echoing,
With angry moans the fierce old mother incessantly moaning,
On the sands of Paumanok’s shore gray and rustling,
The yellow half-moon enlarged, sagging down, drooping, the face of the sea
almost touching, 135
The boy ecstatic, with his bare feet the waves, with his hair the atmosphere
The love in the heart long pent, now loose, now at last tumultuously bursting,
The aria’s meaning, the ears, the soul, swiftly depositing,
The strange tears down the cheeks coursing,
The colloquy there, the trio, each uttering, 140
The undertone, the savage old mother incessantly crying,
To the boy’s soul’s questions sullenly timing, some drown’d secret hissing,
To the outsetting bard.
Demon or bird! (said the boy’s soul,)
Is it indeed toward your mate you sing? or is it really to me? 145
5. Robert D. Faner, in Whitman and the Opera, 1951, shows Whitman’s indebtedness to the aria and
other operatic forms of lyric.
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For I, that was a child, my tongue’s use sleeping, now I have heard you,
Now in a moment I know what I am for, I awake,
And already a thousand singers, a thousand songs, clearer, louder and more
sorrowful than yours,
A thousand warbling echoes have started to life within me, never to die.
O you singer solitary, singing by yourself, projecting me, 150
O solitary me listening, never more shall I cease perpetuating you,
Never more shall I escape, never more the reverberations,
Never more the cries of unsatisfied love be absent from me,
Never again leave me to be the peaceful child I was before what there in the
By the sea under the yellow and sagging moon, 155
The messenger there arous’d, the fire, the sweet hell within,
The unknown want, the destiny of me.
O give me the clew! (it lurks in the night here somewhere,)
O if I am to have so much, let me have more!
A word then, (for I will conquer it,) 160
The word final, superior to all,
Subtle, sent up—what is it?—I listen;
Are you whispering it, and have been all the time, you sea-waves?
Is that it from your liquid rims and wet sands?
Whereto answering, the sea, 165
Delaying not, hurrying not,
Whisper’d me through the night, and very plainly before daybreak,
Lisp’d to me the low and delicious word death,
And again death, death, death, death,
Hissing melodious, neither like the bird nor like my arous’d child’s heart, 170
But edging near as privately for me rustling at my feet,
Creeping thence steadily up to my ears and laving me softly all over,
Death, death, death, death, death.
Which I do not forget,
But fuse the song of my dusky demon and brother, 175
That he sang to me in the moonlight on Paumanok’s gray beach,
With the thousand responsive songs at random,
My own songs awaked from that hour,
And with them the key, the word up from the waves,
The word of the sweetest song and all songs, 180
That strong and delicious word which, creeping to my feet,
(Or like some old crone rocking the cradle, swathed in sweet garments, bending
The sea whisper’d me.
1859, 1881–1882
272 ENGL200The iDeal Reader William Butler Yeats, ‘‘The
Lake Isle of Innisfree’’
Reading with Questions for
Discussion and Writing
© The McGraw−Hill
Companies, 2002
William Butler Yeats (1865–1939) was born in Dublin to moderately prosperous
Protestant parents. His father was a lawyer turned artist. As a youth, Yeats spent his time
between London, Dublin, and his mother’s native county of Sligo. He eventually became the central
figure in the Irish Literary Revival of the 1890s. He drew on Irish materials to build a foundation
for his own work and to instill national pride in his fellow citizens. With Lady Gregory, he founded
the Dublin Abbey Theatre, which he hoped would be the voice of modern Irish culture. While
he was an accomplished writer of fiction, drama, literary criticism, essays, and autobiography, he
was foremost a poet. He wrote poetry throughout his long life, but it is the work of his last twenty
years that makes him one of the most important poets of the twentieth century. His poems are
celebrated for their use of symbols and strong rhythms and the remarkable clarity of their imagery.
Yeats won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1923. “The Lake Isle of Innisfree” was published in 1892.
The Lake Isle of Innisfree
William Butler Yeats
I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.
And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow, 5
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.
I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore; 10
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements gray,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.
Questions for Discussion, Reflection, and Writing
1. Do you think “Innisfree” exists? In what sense?
2. What does Innisfree signify to the poet? To the reader?
§. Connect the readings: Compare Innisfree as a “refuge” to the imagined refuge presented
in Wylie’s “Wild Peaches.”
William Butler Yeats, The Lake Isle of Innisfree: Reading with Questions for Discussion and Writing 273

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