Title: Poetry comparison
- Compare and contrast some of the poems from this week's readings. You may compare poems from a single poet, or compare poems across poets. Have a debatable, persuasive claim and focus on specific points of comparison, using the Lesson in week 7 to guide your structure.
From this week's Lesson:
- COMPARE AND CONTRAST WRITING
- If I'm comparing/contrasting, I might think of two subjects and then three ways to compare/contrast them, my "points of comparison." I would then, most likely, structure the body of my paper like this:
- Intro with thesis
1st body paragraph: Setting: discuss both poems and how they treat the physical setting of the poem.
2nd body paragraph: Imagery: discuss the particular images employed in each poem.
3rd body paragraph: Theme: discuss how the first two elements create a thematic statement in each poem.
- Then I would conclude.
This is called a point-by-point arrangement and can be applied to any compare and contrast assignment, whether you are examining movies, poems, generals, disease treatment protocols, presidents, graduate schools, etc.
This week's reading assignments (poems to choose from for the assignment)
- Read: John Grisham: Somewhere for Everyone (in our text).
- Read: Sharon Olds, "First Thanksgiving" at http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poems/detail/53387
- Read: Sharon Olds, "Still Life in Landscape" at http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poems/detail/53386
- Read: Sharon Olds, "After Making Love in Winter" at http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/browse?contentId=36723
- Read: Sharon Olds, "The Planned Child" at http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/browse?contentId=36230
- Read: Linda Pastan, "A Rainy Country" at http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/browse?contentId=42085
- Read: Linda Pastan, "I Am Learning to Abandon the World" at http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poems/detail/34957
- Read: Linda Pastan, "The Obligation to Be Happy" at http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poems/detail/39788
- Read: Linda Pastan, "Why Are Your Poems So Dark?" at http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poems/detail/41918
- Read: Larry Levis, "SIgns" at http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poems/detail/47941
- Read: Larry Levis, "To a Wren on Calvary" at http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poems/detail/47946
- Read: Larry Levis, "Winter Stars" at http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poems/detail/53388
Your essays should be in MLA Style and approximately 1625-1950 words, not including the Work(s) Cited page. Meeting the minimum word requirement makes you eligible for a C grade. Meeting the maximum word requirements makes you eligible for an A grade. As with most academic writing, this essay should be written in third person. Please avoid both first person (I, we, our, etc.) and second person (you, your).
In the upper left-hand corner of the paper, place your name, the professor’s name, the course name, and the due date for the assignment on consecutive lines. Double space your information from your name onward, and don't forget a title. All papers should be in Times New Roman font with 12-point type with one-inch margins all the way around your paper. All paragraph indentations should be indented five spaces (use the tab key) from the left margin. All work is to be left justified. When quoting lines in literature, please research the proper way to cite short stories, plays, or poems.
You should use the online APUS library to look for scholarly sources. Be careful that you don’t create a "cut and paste" paper of information from your various sources. Your ideas are to be new and freshly constructed. Also, take great care not to plagiarize.
Two of the most important aspects of poetry are imagery and setting. These two are essential in aiding the reader to connect with the poem. While setting is used to describe the environment of the poem as well as time, imagery is used to create certain snapshots to the reader about the exact content and sense the poet wishes to convey. Another essential aspect in every poem is the use of themes which reflects on the specific realm the poem is based upon. It is possible to use two or more themes in a poem depending on the contents and the poet’s message. Different poems have specific structures which are according to the poet’s choice. However, construction of the poem can determine its effectiveness as well as ease of reading. It is, therefore, imperative to develop a poem that has these three elements which will enhance its structure and composition. This paper seeks to compare two poems, The Obligation to be happy and Still Life in Landscape based on the aforementioned three elements, setting, imagery and thematic development. While Sharon Olds uses integral setting and Linda Pastan employs background type of setting, both poets use imagery to develop their themes which are death and happiness respectively.
Understanding the Poems
The poem Still Life in Landscape, by Sharon Olds, is based on an accident resulting in the death of a lady. The poem describes the occurrence of events and how everything is at the moment when the poet is narrating it. As the poet views the body of the dead lady, her mother tries to obstruct her by grabbing her head and hiding it in her chest. She recounts similar events previously but notes that the dead woman is not the person the father had ran over sometimes back. The scene of the accident is reflected by the body and clothes of the dead lady being spread on the road with the pieces of the vehicle being embodied in her. This aspect is noted in the poem by phrases such as “the elements ranged around her” (Olds, line 25). The second poem used in this discussion is that by Linda Pastan, The Obligation to be happy which as the name suggests is an account of the elements that are needed for one to be happy. The poem is structured in a manner that reflects on the flow by first defining the concept of happiness and later explaining the requirements of happiness. In addition, there is an explanation of how the poet views the main subject, happiness. A comparison between the two poems in regards to the structure is that the poem Still Life In Landscape is written in a single clause while the poem The Obligation to be Happy uses three stanzas which are all equal in the number of lines per clause, seven.
Analyzing the Setting of the poem
As noted above, the setting of a poem is described as the environment which the story occurs. Essential to note is that the setting of the poem provides the specific information and time when the event is taking place. Several aspects of setting include historical, weather, geographic location and the time of the poem. Additional, setting could be a location such as a region or a city. Notably, there are two main types of settings which are dependent on the relationship between the events and environment (McCully 4). Background setting is when the setting itself is not essential for the story. This implies that the location or the time of events occurrence does not reflect on the main contents of the poem. The second type of setting is the integral which refers to the time and place of the events in the poem influencing the action or theme in the story. In this type of setting, it controls the characters in the poem.
In the poem The Obligation to be Happy, the setting is background. This is because the main content of the story which is happiness is not based on the time and place of the poem. In fact, there is no relationship between the title of the poem and place or time which is important in determining the type of setting. In regards to time and place, there is no clear definition of any events which can link them to the topic. For instance, the reflection on the main aspect of happiness is not related to the poem’s events such as rising of the sun. Considering the place where events occur, they include the house where the poet is bumping into things which is also not related. Crucial to note is that there is limited use of time and place to effectively describe the setting of the poem as integral. On the other hand, the poem Still Life in the Landscape uses integral setting as reflected by the time and place of events occurrence. The use of this type of setting begins in the title where the landscape is the place where the accident occurs which in this case is the road. Further, the accident which is the cause of death has occurred in the night where it had also rained, an aspect of weather. The writer and her parents are on the other hand driving past the scene of the accident. Time is also used when the writer recalls a similar event that occurred. This was when the father ran over another person sometimes back although the person did not die which is reflected by the writer's words “who had suddenly leaped away from our family car” (Olds, Line 21).
Use of Imagery
The imagery in poems is used to create a snapshot in the mind of the reader about a particular sense. Poets use imagery to draw the intended sensory experience. These snapshots appeal to the five senses which include sound, taste, touch, sight and smell. Through the use of images, it is possible to comprehensively bring out a given meaning which will compare with the snapshots that are created in the minds as well as the memories the reader has had (Kao 11). Imagery is mainly used to connect emotionally with the poem. Although there is an aspect of revealing the reader's own experiences, it is important to note that images can be used to create a new light. Most poems are brief, an aspect which is proved by the two poems being analyzed in this discussion. Therefore, poets are tasked with creating that world of senses for the reader in the few lines. Essential to note is that efficient communication emanates from an array of images in the poem. Further, various forms of imagery include visual and auditory among others which correspond to the feeling, action or sense.
The poem Still Life in Landscape uses imagery in various ways. Several senses are brought up including that of sight and touch. Examples of the tactile imagery include “sticking out of the stub of her thighs” (Olds, Line 9) and “clamped it into her chest” (Olds, Line 12). In these two sentences, the use of imagery is used to describe the action of sticking and clamping which all employ the sense of touch. Visual imagery is also present in this poem which is used to indicate the sense of sight. Such include the line “on wet black macadam” (Olds, Line 16) which describes the color of the respective subject, macadam. Imagery is also profoundly used in the poem The Obligation to be Happy. Unlike in Sharon’s poem, Linda uses imagery to indicate feelings or emotions. There is also an aspect of indirect meaning to the imagery which also brings out the aspect of feeling. Action related imagery includes “harder than love,” (Pastan, Line 3) and “sadness was a hidden vice” (Pastan, Line 9). These two are used to indicate feeling imagery such as sadness and love although the latter is used in conjunction with tactile imagery. Use of metaphor as an imagery form is also evident in the poems. For instance, Linda compares the expectation of the happiness with coming up of the sun despite the rains and clouds. She further compares hoisting happiness on the narrow shoulders with a knapsack of gold coins which she stumbles over and bumping into things. Visual imagery is used when Linda describes the darkness at dawn while the tactile imagery is used to describe the warmth aspect.
In every poem, an important aspect is the profound introduction of the theme being reflected on by the poet. The use of imagery and settings can also be used to develop the theme of the poem. Notably, several themes can be introduced in a poem and despite the shortness of the story; the theme should be easily noted by the reader. Themes are important to communicate to the reader on the specific topic of the poem. It is imperative that poets focus on developing a particular theme which will aid in communicating the intended message to the reader. Linda mainly focuses on the theme of happiness which she brings out by explaining what it means to be happy and her experiences with the theme. To begin with, she compares happiness with several aspects such as love. At the same time, she states that happiness is expected of her similarly to the way the sun comes up irrespective of the rain or colds. The poet further talks about her previous thinking about the main theme where she thought love and health are irrelevant for happiness, an aspect proven wrong from experience (Pastan, Line 10). The poet also uses imagery to reflect on the struggles to hoist the happiness on her, but similarly to carrying the knapsack of gold coins; she is stumbling in the house while bumping into things. This implies that getting the happiness is a challenging aspect.
Sharon Olds on the other hand while reflecting on the theme of death identifies it with its major cause, accident. Imagery and setting in the poem are used to manifest on the theme of death in several ways. Death in this poem is reflected by the woman who has been run over by a vehicle and her body as well as clothes have accidented off (Olds, Line 7). It is dark and has rained, but the poet manages to see the body of the dead lady despite her mother trying to prevent her from seeing the scene. The poet’s father has also been engaged in an accident previously where she hit a woman. The theme of death is further analysed through the woman getting up and walking away. Use of imagery to talk about the theme is through the mother grabbing the poet’s head and clamping it into her chest. The setting, in this case, is used to indicate the blackness of the macadam where the poet’s family is coming from.
In conclusion, imagery and setting of a poem remain some of the most important elements in the development of a story and conveying an intended message effectively. These two aspects are also essential to connect the reader with the narration while bringing out key themes in the poem. While imagery refers to the creation of the different senses in the poem, setting is described as the place and time of events occurrence. Most important to consider is the use of the setting and imagery to develop the theme of the poem. Despite the poem’s length, the poet is tasked with ensuring the theme is brought out effectively. The above discussion is centered on two poems Still Life in the Landscape by Sharon Olds and The Obligations to be Happy by Linda Pastan which are based on the themes of death and happiness respectively. Notably, while Linda employs backdrop setting, Sharon uses integral setting to bring out their themes. Visual, tactile and feeling imagery are also used profoundly to connect the reader with the poem. Metaphors are also used although more by Linda than Sharon
Kao, Justine, and Dan Jurafsky. "A computational analysis of style, affect, and imagery in contemporary poetry." NAACL Workshop on Computational Linguistics for Literature. 2012.
McCully, Chris. Setting in Literature and Creative Writing A Resource for Teaching a-Level English. 2015. Web. 19 Dec. 2016.
Olds, Sharon. Still life in landscape by Sharon Olds. Poetry Foundation, 18 Dec. 2016. Web. 19 Dec. 2016.
Pastan, Linda. The obligation to be happy by Linda Pastan. Poetry Foundation, 18 Dec. 2016. Web. 19 Dec. 2016.