Close Reading (sonnet)

Posted: April 11th, 2022

I have attached the paper directions and guidelines. It is a Write an interpretive essay in which I have to discuss one out of four poems. I choose Claude McKay’s “The White House,

My professor wants us to refrain from us to research the poem or poet. I want to write this os the poet having an internal fight/argument with himself. Choosing from reacting or retaliating and walking away with grace.

MY professor wants us to focus on the specific language and form of the poem.

Please read my professor requirements below As you did in your first essay, consider how elements of poetic craft such as diction, figures, sound, the line and any other aspects of language and form make our experiences of the speaker, poetic voice and/or poetic event. In addition, with these twentieth-century sonnets, consider how the poet employs the sonnet as a “given form,” as a form adopted by generations of poets before the twentieth century. By the time these poets are writing, the sonnet–as a form–has been “given” through generations of use, yet the sonnet is rarely simply “given”: as poets take up the form throughout literary history, sonnets have as often been changed, extended, revised, contested and/or renewed in terms of their conventional speaker, topic and/or form(s).

Think about how the sonnet you choose to write about interacts with the sonnet tradition and the small sampling we are reading and thinking about in ENGL 165W. How does this poem work as a sonnet? Can you identify what sonnet conventions the poet continues and where and when the poet may revise those conventions? Where and how does the poet continue the sonnet tradition? Where and how do they revise the sonnet tradition? Thinking about the sonnet as a sonnet might begin by observing whether it is a Petrarchan (or Italian) sonnet or a Shakespearian (or English) sonnet, or perhaps a hybrid of both conventional forms, or perhaps something different from either of those conventional forms. If it is indeed something new, then what aspects of the poem’s language and form still make it a sonnet?

How does the choice and use of the sonnet as a form work with other aspects of poetic craft that you notice? How does the choice of this “given form” and the choices about how the poet will shape their sonnet(s)—how do these choices meet with other elements of poetic craft, make our experiences of the speaker, the voice, the poem?

Some Suggestions

As with your first essay, this essay should offer an interpretive thesis in response to the topic, articulated above. Remember: a thesis is an understanding that you develop through your discussion and, hence, it needs to be found throughout your essay. If your process as a writer resembles mine at all, your thesis will emerge as you draft. Every part of your essay should be connected to your thesis: as you revise, ask yourself if you have articulated fully how each part of your discussion connects with (or builds) your thesis. These connections need not merely reiterate your thesis exactly (that’s boring); a thesis accumulates like a snowball, accruing detail, breadth, and dimension as you roll it along.

Remember too that, when you quote from the poem, you need to explain how you want your reader to understand what you are quoting. Never assume that your meaning (how you are reading) is self-evident.

Think carefully about the arrangement, or organization, of your essay (i.e. which details you focus on, in what combinations, and in what order you present the parts of your discussion). Use your arrangement or organization to help your reader see what you are showing and explaining about the poem’s meanings, language, and design. While it might be appropriate sometimes to start with a discussion of the beginning of a poem and to work slowly through each line, there are other ways of structuring your discussion to place emphasis on your thinking and the parts of the poem’s language and form that are most important for the articulation of your thesis.

Some Guidelines

Do not research the poet or the poem for this writing assignment. Such research, while certainly useful on other occasions, will not facilitate the learning goals for this assignment, your practice in identifying local instances of language and form and in composing those observations into a larger interpretive thesis. I do not want others’ interpretations to be getting in the way of your work on and presentation of your interpretive thesis.
Do not waste space with grandiose introductory remarks. Rather, get to your specific point in your first sentence. The rest of this short interpretive essay should consist of close examination (close reading) of specific poetic diction, figures, and form in the poem.
Use a title that introduces your interpretive thesis. This is a requirement, a crucial part of your essay.”

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