INTERPRETATION OF A SINGLE POEM

Doc TypeEssayAcademic Levelcollege-undergraduateSubjectEnglishTitleINTERPRETATION OF A SINGLE POEMCitationMLARequired Sources1Pages3Due Date3 hoursPaper DescriptionRe-read through the EPIPHANY & NATURE sections of the anthology, A Book of Luminous Things. INTERPRETATION OF A SINGLE POEM: Write an essay in which you interpret the overall meaning (or message) of a single poem from those we read. Choose a poem which you feel will provide enough depth and material for your essay. Make sure to express the meaning (or message) in a clear thesis statement. The best way to approach this essay would be to ask yourself: “What’s the single message, or lesson, the poet is trying to get across?” If you can answer that question, you’ll be on your way to developing an arguable thesis.2. FORMAT REQUIREMENTS: 3. Format: Times New Roman Font, 12 point font, double spaced, MLA Formatting, Works Cited4. Length: 900+ words MINIMUM
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ESSAY #1—
1.
Re-read through the EPIPHANY & NATURE sections of the anthology, A Book of
Luminous Things. INTERPRETATION OF A SINGLE POEM: Write an essay in
which you interpret the overall meaning (or message) of a single poem from
those we read. Choose a poem which you feel will provide enough depth and
material for your essay. Make sure to express the meaning (or message) in a
clear thesis statement. The best way to approach this essay would be to ask
yourself: “What’s the single message, or lesson, the poet is trying to get across?”
If you can answer that question, you’ll be on your way to developing an
arguable thesis.
2. FORMAT REQUIREMENTS:
3. Format: Times New Roman Font, 12 point font, double spaced, MLA
Formatting, Works Cited
4. Length: 900+ words MINIMUM
SOME EPIPHANY POEMS:
Here are some poems from the Epiphany section. Read the poems with an open mind,
hoping for surprises, for if poems offer anything it’s surprises. I read poetry a lot, and I’m
always surprised at things I hadn’t thought or seen before. A lot of that has to do with others
sharing their thoughts. You’re part of the experience as much as the poem is.
LET’S BEGIN~!
MAXIMUS by D.H. Lawrence, page 5.
In the poem “Maximus,” D.H. Lawrence addresses that age old paradox: God is so large, no
human conception, no human language, no human eye can see him. But in the poem, the
speaker, Maximus, ends up visiting with the God Hermes!
KIKAKU & ISSA poems, page 6.
In these two short haiku poems, the poets distill each image into a simple essence. We’re left
with the simplest of images. For instance, in the first one, even though the geese are flying,
we sense a stillness in the poem; we see the “bellies” of the birds, a startling simple image.
The speaker must be very still and sharp eyed to capture that image. Simarly, in the second
poem, we again feel the stillness, the frozen moment of the image. The bough (a branch)
floats, yet we are still, listening to “insect song.”
MUSIC OF SPHERES by Jean Follain, page 7.
Ambiguity, something we might say is the heart of poetry (and of life), is captured in this
poem. For instance, what makes this poem ambiguous is that we are unsure if it is an image
of loneliness, or profound contemplation. Is it a moment of spiritual clarity, of deep
appreciation of the ‘sky studded with stars’? Or is it about loneliness, that feeling of ‘cold
emptiness’ we as humans sometimes feel? Either way, the poem offers us multiple
interpretations, even though it’s quite short. Its richness lies in the little images such as ‘old
can’, ‘frozen road.’ These images carry very charged meanings.
NATURE
In the following poems, we experience poet’s feelings and understanding about the nonhuman world. Yet, as humans, we cannot help to see, understand, and feel nature through a
human lens. Thus, we may never really know nature in a true sense. This is the philosophical
struggle poets deal with in their poems about nature.
THE AUTHOR OF AMERICAN ORNITHOLOGY SKETCHES A BIRD, NOW EXTINCT by
David Wagoner, page 13.
In this poem we see a great irony. In order to paint the ivory-billed woodpecker, the hunterartist must capture and eventually kill by starvation, the bird. The irony is that the bird
becomes an extinct species. So in order for the bird to be represented in a book to represent
its species, it has to give its life. The bird, the second to last stanza, refuses to eat, even
though it still fights against its captor.
IRISES by Li-Young Lee, page 17.
Li-Young Lee expresses an intense passion for flowers in this poem. I have to admit, I first
thought it odd that he wanted to ‘tear into these petals with [his] teeth.’ In section I, he
posits a near erotic experience with the flowers. But in section II, he cools down, becoming
more philosophic and distant about the irises.
LIKE THEY SAY by Robert Creeley, page 18.
This poem is for daydreamers and daytrippers, those of us who understand the phrase ‘why
not?’ Granted, one can’t always sit under a tree on soft grass and happily disturb
woodpeckers while the day passes–most of us have to work–but it is a great pleasure to do
so, or something like similar. And if you don’t relate to the poem, well, I just don’t
understand you at all. If we didnt’ have ‘why not?’, we wouldn’t have the interesting lives,
the inventions, the loves, the losses, the experiences we have as humans.
MOTHS by Adam Zagajewski, page 19
Inside. Outside. Humans live most their lives inside. Most cultures seeks some form of
shelter. We live our lives inside working. We live our lives inside school. We live our lives
inside sleeping. Nature is outside. This poem makes some suggestion about the moths
(representing nature), about how we are ‘skewered by their lambent gazes.’
IN PRAISE OF SELF-DECEPTION by Wislawa Szymborska page 21
We think animals–as this poem suggests–do not have any self-awareness. Thus, they live
completely free of any moral worry. How great to be so innocent, yet so ruthless at the same
time~! No guilt~! Szymborska’s poem says more about what it means to be human than the
animal world.
FOUR IN THE MORNING by Wislawa Szymborska, page 22.
Szymborska’s poem has a strange charm to it. I sense he is someone who really knows about
that ‘hollow hour,’ four in the morning. He’s someone who has an intimate feeling for that
hour. Read it through again, slowly, taking time for each line to have its emphasis. I think
you’ll really feel that feeling of four in the morning.

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