• Choose ONE of the following prompts.
  • If it is helpful to you, use the questions from page 715 to assist in developing your response.
  • Please include your name, date, and the title of the poem to which you are responding.
  • Your response should be more than ONE page, but less than TWO.
  • Your response should be a WORD document, double-spaced, 12-point font (Arial or Times New Roman).
  • You should edit and revise prior to submitting, but it may be treated more informally than an essay.

GROUP 1 -- Symbolism and Allegory


"Advice to My Son" by Peter Meinke
What is this poem's message? How old do you think the speaker's son is? What makes you say this? How do you think this message will be received (by the speaker's son)? What advice do you imagine you will give your son or daughter some day? How does it compare to the advice the speaker gives his son in this poem?

"A Poison Tree" by William Blake
What message was Blake sending about anger and its effects (on the person who is anger and the person to whom the anger is directed)? Write about a time in your life when you let your anger grow. What were the consequences of the growing anger? Who was hurt more -- the person with whom you were angry or you?

"The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost
Explore both the literal and symbolic natures of this well-known poem. Tell the literal story, then identify the symbols and discuss their meanings.

GROUP 2 -- Symbolism and Allegory

  • Choose ONE of the following prompts.
  • If it is helpful to you, use the questions from page 715 to assist in developing your response.
  • Please include your name, date, and the title of the poem to which you are responding.
  • Your response should be more than ONE page, but less than TWO.
  • Your response should be a WORD document, double-spaced, 12-point font (Arial or Times New Roman).
  • You should edit and revise prior to submitting, but it may be treated more informally than an essay.

"Because I could not stop for Death" by Emily Dickinson
Is this poem generally symbolic or is it allegorical? Explain your stance. Zero in on lines 9 - 13 and lines 17 - 20. Why are these particular lines so significant? What do they represent? In addition to these questions, consider this: Where is the speaker? Heaven? Hell? Somewhere else? What is the tone of this poem? Is the speaker's attitude fearful? contemplative? joyful? curious? something else? How do you know?

CHOOSE from GROUP 1
Choose from GROUP 1, one of the prompts that you did NOT respond to the first time.

GROUP 3 -- Syntax

  • Choose ONE of the following prompts.
  • Please include your name, date, and the title of the poem to which you are responding.
  • Your response should be more than ONE page, but less than TWO.
  • Your response should be a WORD document, double-spaced, 12-point font (Arial or Times New Roman).
  • You should edit and revise prior to submitting, but it may be treated more informally than an essay.

"The Man He Killed" by Thomas Hardy
Take note that the first two stanzas are each a single sentence. Explain how each stanza relates to the other both logically (content) and stylistically (syntactically, in particular). What purpose do the dashes in stanzas three and four serve? How do they suggest the speaker's state of mind? (Read aloud to HEAR the breaks.) What does the contrast in fluency between the first and second stanzas, versus the third and fourth, versus the final stanza? Explain your stance.

"The Man He Killed" by Thomas Hardy CONNECTION TO "Guests of the Nation" by Frank O'Connor
Compare the view of war presented by the speaker in "The Man He Killed" with that of the narrator in O'Connor's "Guests of the Nation".

"The Silken Tent" by Robert Frost
Keeping in mind that this poem compares a woman to a tent (not a canvas camping tent, but a more luxurious --SILKEN-- tent that "sways at ease" in a "summer breeze"). What is the speaker saying about women based on this metaphor? Take note that this poem is A. a single sentence and B. a sonnet. What effects does those two structural features have on the meaning and/or tone of the poem?

"Me up at does" by e e cummings
Start by rearranging the syntax of this poem to better resemble the word order of a Standard English sentence. Once you have done that, answer these remaining questions: What is the message of this poem? Why would cummings have made this syntactical choice for this particular description? What point of view is shown in this poem? Is there a shift in POV? What makes this poem surprising? humorous?

GROUP 4 -- Sound

  • Choose ONE of the following prompts.
  • Please include your name, date, and the title of the poem to which you are responding.
  • Your response should be more than ONE page, but less than TWO.
  • Your response should be a WORD document, double-spaced, 12-point font (Arial or Times New Roman).
  • You should edit and revise prior to submitting, but it may be treated more informally than an essay.

"During Wind and Rain" by Thomas Hardy
Chart the poem's rhyme scheme, which lines and words are repeated and any alliteration. What effect do these features have on the meaning and feeling of the poem? Read again the final line of the poem. What does this descending rhythm suggest about the poem's content? Why do you think Hopkins begins this line with Down? Why does he use all monosyllabic words to end this poem? What effect do eight monosyllables create?

"Sound and Sense" by Alexander Pope
Focus in on lines 5-6 versus lines 7-8. How do they differ? What does this difference in diction stress in the idea being presented here? Now look at lines 9-10 versus lines 11-12. What do you notice about this comparison? What syntax choices did Pope make? Why do you think he inverted the conventional word order in line 9? To what is he drawing our attention?

"The Universe" by May Swenson
What does the repetition in this poem reflect? Pay close attention to lines 10-15 and 24-31. Are there any definitive responses to the questions posed in this poem? What is the tone of this poem? Does the poem remain the same throughout, or is there a shift somewhere? Explain.

"The Word Plum" by Helen Chasin
Look closely. In which ways is the word plum sounded and resounded in this poem? (HINT: Look at lines 2 -3 in particular and think of the spelling of the focal fruit: p-l-u-m.) Identify any alliteration you see. What purpose does this technique serve for this poem? To which senses does this poem appeal? What is the question and what is the reply in lines 9-10?