English 112 Short Paper #1. The Power of Words in Poetry: Analatical essay on true love
English 112 Short Paper #1: The Power of Words in Poetry Due Date: Wednesday, April 2nd @ 5:30p “Poetry focuses… on connotative, emotional, or associative meanings and conveys meaning more through suggestion, indirection, and the use of metaphor, symbol, and imagery” (Making Literature Matter 143) For this first assignment, you will select one of the poems we read so far in Chapters 1 & 6 and write a 600 word short essay that focuses on one word in the poem, explaining its significance and how it creates, changes, and explores the overall meaning of the poem. Here is the comprehensive list of poems from those chapters: “Lying in a Hammock…”, “Woodchucks”, “We Did Not Fear the Father”, “What Work Is”, “Singapore”, “Blackberries”, “The Mill”, “So Mexicans Are Taking Jobs from Americans”, “The Lady in the Pink Mustang”, “The Secretary Chant”, and “The Restaurant Business”, “Ex-Boyfriends”, “True Love” (Szmborska version), “True Love” (Sharon Olds version). You must select one of these poems. This essay will likely be somewhat difficult in the beginning. The concept of writing 600 words about one word seems daunting and impossible. My advice to you is to not focus on how to write 600 words about one word, but instead, focus on exploring the various meaning and uses that this word takes in this poem. Here are some strategies for doing this: •Explore the connotative & denotative meanings of the word. Remember that words contain both connotative and denotative meanings. The denotative definition of the word is the dictionary definition; it gives us a frame for understanding the word, but it does not convey a great deal of emotion behind that definition. Think of the definition for the word “beach”; “a pebbly or sandy shore, esp. by the ocean between high- and low-water marks”; is this what you think of when you hear the word “beach”? Very likely, your answer here is no; when you think of the word “beach”, you likely feel the word more than you hear it: you feel relaxation when you picture the water flowing over the sand, you hear waves crashing and perhaps children laughing, you feel a sense of calm when you imagine why you might be at that beach to begin with: perhaps you are on a vacation of some sort, which leads you to associate the word “beach” with certain circumstances. You might also feel sun baking your skin, sand between your toes, and sunglasses on your face. All of these mental images come together to create the connotative definitions for the word “beach”. Use this sort of emotional tone in your piece. What connotative associations will your reader likely have for the word you select? Remember, there are likely MANY different associations depending on audience. What might “beach” mean to a child? To a teenager? To an old man? Don’t be afraid to paint a mental picture for your reader. •Quote lines from the poem that use this word and explore both what this line means, what it means within that stanza, and what that line and/or stanza means in relation to the rest of the poem. Do not limit yourself to only lines where this word is used; use any line from the poem that will help you explain why this word is so powerful and/or any line that changes or is affected by the word. •Consider discussing how this word affects other words in the poem as well, including how various definitions of it affect the same lines (ie. if you focus on the word “deliver” in “The Secretary Chant”, there are two different definitions for this word – “to hand over something” and “to state something” – how does the line “I am about to be delivered / of a baby” in “The Secretary Chant” change based on these two definitions of the word “deliver”?). •Discuss lines where a similar version of the word is used (if you are discussing the word “my” in “The Secretary Chant”, you can also discuss the use of the word “me” or “I” in the poem). MAKE SURE YOU ARE NOT SIMPLY SUMMARIZING THE POEM BUT RATHER ANALYZING ITS CONTENT. One way to test this is to view your paper from an outsider perspective and ask yourself: am I adding my personal opinion or am I just restating what the poem in my own words? If your paper could be written by anyone in the class, you are likely just rehashing the poem itself; your job here is to go beyond what is says and explain what it means. Don’t worry about analyzing it “correctly” or trying to figure out what exactly I (your professor) thinks it means; I am interested in what YOU think it means. The beauty of poetry (and all literature in general) is that there is more than one way to interpret the same work; be confident in YOUR way and YOUR conclusions about what this poem means, what the lines mean, and what it is trying to say. You will likely need to define this word using a Dictionary. You may use up to two online or paper dictionaries, but no more. You do not want your essay to be overloaded with definitions, and you do not want the majority of your writing to be someone else’s. Furthermore, do not just put this definition in your paper and expect it to explain itself. Use this definition to better explain to your reader what this word means and how this definition contributes to an understanding of this word’s power in the poem. You should also connect the denotative definition (which is the dictionary definition) to its connotative associations. When using outside source material (the poem itself as well as any online dictionaries do count as “outside” sources), make sure you are citing using the proper MLA standards for citing poetry and dictionaries. Please consult the Purdue OWL and other reputable citation websites for help with citation: https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/03/ (for poetry); http://bcs.bedfordstmartins.com/resdoc5e/res5e_ch08_s1-0001.html (for dictionary definitions). Make sure you include a works cited page with your essay. The formatting for this paper is as follows: at least 600 words, double-spaced, with 12 point Times New Roman font, and standard 1 inch margins on all sides. Your name should be on every page. Remember to use spell check and grammar check before turning anything in. Reading aloud yourself, or having a friend (or writing tutor!) read your paper aloud is a fantastic way to catch small errors and edit for clarity. .