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LIT 4930.001
Appreciating Poetry


Fall 2004
Time: Monday and Wednesday
11:00am - 12:15 pm
Room: CPR 348


Class 3

Reading Assignment:

    Aug. 30: Perrine, chs. 4-5, Oliver pp. 76-108
    Group B: Post 1
POEM TO ANNOTATE:
    "A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning" by John Donne (Perrine 84-5)

Class Objectives:

  • Identifying imagery
  • Identifying Metaphor
  • Determining what imagery and metaphor contribute to a poem

    *********************
    1.

    The following words are introduced and defined in the reading for today. Please try to understand these terms and begin to use them in your analysis of poetry. If you have questions about them, bring the questions up in class for discussion.

  • Imagery
  • figure of speech (70)
  • figurative language (70)
  • simile (70)
  • metaphor(70)
  • personification (73)
  • apostrophe (75)

    2.
    Imagery often forms the heart and soul of poetry. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is for you to be able to speak or write precisely about the imagery of a poem. To begin, examine the categories of imagery provided by Perrine (page 55):
    VISUAL
    AUDITORY
    OLFACTORY
    GUSTATORY
    TACTILE
    ORGANIC
    KINESTHETIC

    Remember, however, that "We cannot evaulate a poem... by the amount or quality of its imagery alone. Sense impression is only one of the elements of experience. Poetry may attain its ends by other means. We should never judge any single element of a poem except in reference to the total intent of the poem" (57-8).

    Oliver offers an additional term, "texture," (pp 92-99) to name what imagery creates in a poem. How do you understand the "texture" of a poem? How would you describe the "texture" of Donne's poem for today?

    3.

    I appreciate Perrine's commonsense attitude toward understanding figures of speech and the centrality of the metaphor. Let us focus our attention on understanding metaphor in as complete a way as we can, and let the other details of naming fall into place where they may.

    Perrine offers us the distinction of four forms of metaphors, to be categorized according to whether their literal and figurative terms are explicit or implied. These are useful distinctions in helping us understand the meaning of a poem, and so I believe we should try to use them (pp. 71-3).

    First form : : both literal and figurative terms explicit

    Second form : : literal term explicit, figurative term implicit

    Third form : : literal term implicit, figurative term explicit

    Fourth form : : literal and figurative terms implicit

    Use Perrine's discussion of Dickinson's "It sifts from Leaden Sieves" to distinguish metaphoric forms (p. 72-3).

    Finally, keep in mind the REASONS why a metaphor or other figurative language might be effective. It is one thing to identify the figure; it is another and more important step to be able to say how it contributes meaning to a poem. Consider the following reasons as possibilities:

    "Figurative language affords us imaginative pleasure" (77).

    "Figures of speech are a way of bringing additional imagery into verse, of making the abstract concrete, of making poetry more sensuous" (78).

    "Figures of speech are a way of adding emotional intensity to otherwise merely informative statements and of conveying attitudes along with information" (78).

    "Figures of speech are an effective means of concentration, a way of saying much in a brief compass" (78).

    Oliver offers several examples of appropriate and inappropriate language for poetry. These can offer you clues in evaluating poems that you read. What is the difference, for example, between a metaphor that is dead and one that is alive with electricity?

    Remember the concept of "negative capability" discussed by Oliver on 80-84 for our discussion of Keats. Why is the concept of negative capability significant for good poetry?



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