Posted: March 23rd, 2022
“In Memory of My Dear Grandchild, Elizabeth Bradstreet.” Farewell dear babe, my heart’s too much content, Farewell sweet babe, the pleasure of mine eye, Farewell fair flower that for a space was lent, Then ta’en away unto eternity. Blest babe why should I once bewail thy fate, Or sigh the days so soon were terminate; Sith* thou art settled in an everlasting state. *Since By nature trees do rot when they are grown. And plums and apples thoroughly ripe do fall, And corn and grass are in their season mown, And time brings down what is both strong and tall. But plants new set to be eradicate, And buds new blown, to have so short a date, Is by His hand alone that guides nature and fate. In this 1000-word paper, the rough draft of which will be due for peer review a week from today, you will be analyzing one of four poems by the Puritan poet Anne Bradstreet. Your “thesis” will be an argument about the emotional impact that the poem has on you. In other words, how does this poem make you feel? Note: these poems were written in the seventeenth century. How Bradstreet’s poetry was viewed by her contemporaries might be very, very different from the way in which the poetry resonates for you, a citizen of the twenty-first century. So, how do you proceed here? First, pick one of the four poems to write about. Pick the Bradstreet poem that resonates (in either a positive or a negative way) strongly for you. Then, quite simply, identify how it makes you feel. Then, you begin the real work. How does Bradstreet use language to achieve that emotional response in you? You must be VERY, VERY specific. What images does she create? How does she construct these images from words? How do the sounds of the words and the sounds and rhythms of the words in combination work to produce a feeling in you? Your paper should have the following basic structure: 1. Roadmap paragraph: Give me an introduction and a hook. Then give me a thesis-and-because statement: Her poem X makes me feel X because it does X. Then, give me three ways–each outlined in a sentence–in which the poem does X. 2. Body paragraphs: Each paragraph should begin with one of the arguments from above. Then, you should give me an example of Bradstreet doing what you say she does. Give me an exact quote from the text. Then explain the quote. How are the words working here to do what you you say they are doing? You can give up to two or three quotes if you want. Explain each quote individually. Summarize what she does, and then move to the next topic in the next paragraph. 3. Concluding paragraph: Restate your thesis-and-because statement. Restate your supporting points. Then, wax philosophical for a few sentences. You could, for example, talk about whether the worldview expressed in your poem even translates into the postmodern world we live in. One of the neat parts of reading Bradstreet is seeing the world through Puritan eyes. But does the lens offered by Bradstreet allow us to see anything–love, loss, authorship–more clearly? Or does she make our vision fuzzy? Points to keep in mind: 1. Don’t spend any time summarizing the poem. Assume that your audience is familiar with the poem. That audience is interested in your interpretation of Bradstreet’s work. 2. Use MLA conventions for dealing with poetry. W 3. Be very specific in terms of your treatment of Bradstreet’s language. Go word by word when you’re telling us how one of her lines works to create an image or a feeling. Detail wins the day here!
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