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    LIT 4386 British and American Literature by Women

    Class 30

    Sharon Olds, "Rite of Passage" (2288), Louise Gluck, "Terminal Resemblance" (2293)
    Post 13 Group B

    Class Objectives:

  • To examine representations of men in poetry by women
  • To draw course themes to closure?

    In a Room of One's Own, Woolf claimed that it had been the responsibility of women from time memorial to hold up the mirror to man and magnify his image twice the size. In "When We Dead Awaken" Adrienne Rich claims that women poets began to revise the "mythology" of man in their poetry, breaking the hold of the past and creating a new language, a new way of describing and articulating experience. The two poems for today both present images of man in poetry by women. As we bring the semester to a close, let us examine how these two poems create or revision the image of man in the poetry of women.

Notes and Discussion Questions:

1. Sharon Olds, "Rites of Passage" (2288)

Read the poem carefully several times. Read it out loud. Make sure you look up any words that might have a meaning unknown to you.

What images does the poet use to describe the small boys at the birthday party?

How are these boys like the older men in the images?

What is the impact of line 22?

What images of life and death do you see in the poem? How are they in conflict?

What is the relationship between speaker and the boys?

What is the "Rite of Passage" referred to by the title?

2. Louise Gluck, "Terminal Resemblance" (2293)

At the start of the poem, what is the "terminal resemblance" referred to by the title?

What might the terminal resemblance mean by the end of the poem? Is there more than one possible meaning?

What does it suggest about the movement of the poem, the poem's "argument," that the meaning of the title changes from one to the other(s)?

In what ways are the speaker and her father alike?

How does the context of her last meeting with her father matter?

Are the tone, setting and details of the poem at odds (in tension) with a daughter's parting with her father forever?

How might you describe the representation of men in these poems by women? Are there any surprises? Any risks?