Please write a well-organized essay interpreting any ONE of the six poems reproduced on the following pages. Support your interpretation with specific references to the poem. What is the poem saying, and why does it need to be a poem to say what it is saying? How does form express content?
More specific questions to consider (not all are equally relevant to each poem)—
How does the poem use auditory devices (such as rhyme, rhythm, alliteration, assonance, etc.) to express and emphasize ideas and feelings?
How does the poem use figurative language (metaphors and similes) to create meaning? What senses do the poem’s images appeal to? Does the poem have a central metaphor that shapes its meaning? In what ways is the poem concerned with literal things and activities as well as with figurative connections?
How does the poem’s structure—its organization into lines and stanzas, and its use of established forms like the sonnet—serve to emphasize its meaning?
How many sentences does the poem have, and how does sentence structure relate to line structure? Do the ends of clauses and phrases match the ends of lines or sometimes continue across line endings (enjambment)? How do sentence details support the thoughts and feelings the poem is expressing?
On your first few readings, what features of the poem seem strange and/or hard to grasp? The unexpected features of a poem can be key to its most interesting meanings.
You are not required to do any research for this assignment, but if you do consult any sources other than your chosen poem, you should provide the appropriate MLA-style citation.
- Rebecca Goss, “Hi Honey, I’m Home”
Two soft packets of Marlboro on the sideboard
and she knew he’d arrived.
She lit one, moved to the table
and saw SURPRISE written in spilt sugar.
She couldn’t help thinking of flies.
He was in bed for certain, waiting for her
to join him in pseudo-sleep.
Thinking of his mouth, she almost went upstairs,
but telephoned her sister
and arranged to meet in a Tapas bar.
She added D and a question mark
to his greeting on the table,
picked up his cigarettes
and left the front door open.
- Robert Crawford, “Opera”
Throw all your stagey chandeliers in wheelbarrows and move them north
To celebrate my mother’s sewing-machine
And her beneath an eighty-watt bulb, pedalling
Iambs on an antique metal footplate
Powering the needle through its regular lines,
Doing her work. To me as a young boy
That was her typewriter. I’d watch
Her hands and feet in unison, or read
Between her calves the wrought-iron letters:
SINGER. Mass-produced polished wood and metal,
It was a powerful instrument. I stared
Hard at its brilliant needle’s eye that purred
And shone at night; and then each morning after
I went to work at school, wearing her songs.