For your weekly posts, please continue our practice of close reading the poetry assigned for Thursday Jan. 14. We can focus
on Elizabeth Bishop's three poems.
1. General Notes on Reading Poetry
For those of you new to poetry, please take some time to practice the skills of reading poetry critically and appreciatively.
It is different from prose, and there are certain stages in reading poetry that you need
to move through in order to appreciate it. For more information on reading poetry, you can
find Perrine's Sound and Sense: An Introduction to Poetry or look online at
Poetry Foundation resources.
The first thing you should strive for is an understanding of the poem on the denotative
level, that is, what the poem says. You should
be able to summarize what the poem is about and to paraphrase the lines.
The second level of meaning arises when we examine the use of figurative language, sound
and other types of poetic technique. You should be able to understand what the poem
suggests -- or its connotation. This becomes easier as we discuss the poems in class.
Finally, ALWAYS read the poems more than once. At least once read the poem aloud.
Perrine offers (pp. 27-31) some important questions to address when we read a poem. Let's get used
to answering them:
- Who is the speaker?
- What is the occasion?
- What is the central purpose of the poem?
- By what means is that purpose achieved?
2. Elizabeth Bishop
We are discussing "The Bight," "Florida," and "Seascape." Practice on one of the poems. Begin by annotating the poem
for words or phrases that stick out for you -- whether they are unknown or strange in the context -- and learn more
about the terms.
What is the most important line in any one of the poems? Write about that line, what it means and how it relates
to the poem as a whole.
What are the dominant images of the poem? How does the poet construct the images (words, devices) and what effect does
this choice have on the meaning?
What is the dominant metaphor, if any, of the poem? What two things are being compared and how does bringing these things
together affect the meaning of the poem?
3. Next Class
Start reading the chapters in Cresswell, and be prepared on Thursday to bring your questions about place theories to
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