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Poetry Selections

Poetry Selections

Read the six poems in this handout and these seven from The Conscious Reader:

•    Taylor Mali: “The The Importance of Proofreading” (173-175)

•    Rudyard Kipling: “If” (248-249)

•    T.S. Eliot: “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” (250-254)

•    Anne Sexton: “Her Kind” (254-255)

•    Langston Hughes: “Theme for English B” (334-335)

•    Affonso Romano de Sant’Anna: “Letter to the Dead” (554-555)

•    Sara Littlecrow-Russell: “Apology to the Wasps” (727)

Choose one of the thirteen poems – either one from the textbook or one of the ones below – and complete the “letter to the author” assignment (on Blackboard under “assignments”).


“Coal” by Audre Lorde (1934-1992)


Is the total black, being spoken

From the earth’s inside.

There are many kinds of open.

How a diamond comes into a knot of flame                       5

How a sound comes into a word, coloured

By who pays what for speaking.

Some words are open

Like a diamond on glass windows

Singing out within the crash of passing sun                        10

Then there are words like stapled wagers

In a perforated book—buy and sign and tear apart—

And come whatever wills all chances

The stub remains

An ill-pulled tooth with a ragged edge.                        15

Some words live in my throat

Breeding like adders. Others know sun

Seeking like gypsies over my tongue

To explode through my lips

Like young sparrows bursting from shell.                        20

Some words

Bedevil me.

Love is a word another kind of open—

As a diamond comes into a knot of flame

I am black because I come from the earth’s inside                       25

Take my word for jewel in your open light.


“How Sweet I Roamed” by William Blake (1757-1827)

How sweet I roam’d from field to field,

And tasted all the summer’s pride

‘Til the prince of love beheld

Who in the sunny beams did glide!

He shew’d me lilies for my hair                                5

And blushing roses for my brow;

He led me through his garden fair,

Where all his golden pleasures grow.

With sweet May dews my wings were wet,

And Phoebus fir’d my vocal rage                            10

He caught me in his silken net,

And shut me in his golden cage.

He loves to sit and hear me sing,

Then, laughing, sports and plays with me;

Then stretches out my golden wing,                            15

And mocks my loss of liberty.


“somewhere I have never traveled, gladly beyond” by e.e. cummings (1894-1962)

somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond

any experience,your eyes have their silence:

in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,

or which i cannot touch because they are too near

your slightest look easily will unclose me                        5

though i have closed myself as fingers,

you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens

(touching skilfully,mysteriously)her first rose

or if your wish be to close me, i and

my life will shut very beautifully ,suddenly,                        10

as when the heart of this flower imagines

the snow carefully everywhere descending;

nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals

the power of your intense fragility:whose texture

compels me with the color of its countries,                        15

rendering death and forever with each breathing

(i do not know what it is about you that closes

and opens;only something in me understands

the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)

nobody,not even the rain,has such small hands                    20


#632 (“The Brain—is wider than the Sky—“) by Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

The Brain—is wider than the Sky—

For—put them side by side—

The one the other will contain

With ease—and You—beside—

The Brain is deeper than the sea—                            5

For—hold them—Blue to Blue—

The one the other will absorb—

As Sponges—Buckets—do—

The Brain is just the weight of God—

For—Heft them—Pound for Pound—                            10

And they will differ—if they do—

As Syllable from Sound—


“You Fit Into Me” by Margaret Atwood (b. 1939)

You fit into me

like a hook into an eye

a fish hook

an open eye


“Mad Girl’s Love Song” by Sylvia Plath (1932-1963)

I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead;

I lift my lids and all is born again.

(I think I made you up inside my head.)

The stars go waltzing out in blue and red,

And arbitrary blackness gallops in:                            5

I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I dreamed that you bewitched me into bed

And sung me moon-struck, kissed me quite insane.

(I think I made you up inside my head.)

God topples from the sky, hell’s fires fade:                        10

Exit seraphim and Satan’s men:

I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I fancied you’d return the way you said,

But I grow old and I forget your name.

(I think I made you up inside my head.)                        15

I should have loved a thunderbird instead;

At least when spring comes they roar back again.

I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

(I think I made you up inside my head.)


Dear Emily Dickinson,

How are you? We have been reciting your poem “The Brain—is wider than the Sky”, which is thoughtful and amusing with rationality. This is a very well written poem in extent of deep meaning inside the simplicity of word necklace. You must have surprised seeing us writing towards you, this poem of brain encourages us to be more creative as the brain and sky has compared in your wider sense of imagination.

Brain is the greatest hub of entire human body which circulates entire operation and gives the central decision order based on the observation and logic of judgment.

The capacity of brain is wider than any substances in true sense as we have experienced in every deal of life activity. So you have mentioned in the poem it is deeper and deeper than the sea. This can include the vast comparison, where the generosity of blue has spilled over the poem to draw the sky and sea and their wideness.

Within this span of writing it is to be important to keep the rhythm of the line in more tuning, where discrete word may have reduced the elegance of the poem and its charm to the audience. This expression could be much elaborative and poetic tone, where the great topic of human being initiated to compare with the universal phenomena.

Comparison to the syllable and sound apparently uneven than comparing brain with sky and sea, this segment of the poem can be more challenging for entire part of charm. To reach at the point of syllable and sounds few more steps could give the audience much understanding about the illusion of great mind as a poet that you cherish.

This poem focused the precise focus on crucial part of human being, which is brain as how the wide capacity of roaming mind can be guided by this center. Human thinking and its revolution is outperforming over the edges, and we can observe the many blessing and establishment through the era of prosperity.

Brain is such a core where all the agony can be realized in depth, so does the happiness can be speeded all over the body. This sophistication can be compared with the blue sky and ocean which was precisely implicated by the harmony of this poem.

Even though this poem has limited plot to gaze, it can be analyzed very easily that the vast expression of sea and sky should not be left alone with the ending of sponge and bucket. The poem with such wider concept, should have maintained proper steps and chronology with break of sense and poetic rational stage.

With all these contribution and coherency of Emily Dickenson’s poem, gave us distinct picture of brain and it’s dwelling in the modern environment. From this poem presentation it is obvious that short cut in rhythm and restriction, where turn from brain and sky or sea did not take proper flow of river to reach its end meat.

This appreciation and criticize can, improvise the future many more poet who are promising and rising significantly for the better. This pays tribute for the poet and the congressional admiration and also suggestion to the pure new poet for the exemplary limitations.

Wishing all the best to her lifelong creativity and given pleasure with motivation to the upcoming generation we are closing our surprise here today.

Take the poem you’ve been working on (the same poem you used for the “letter to the author” assignment this week) and write a two page explication (or “close reading”) in which you use words or passages from the poem to support your analysis of the poem. While your letter could be chatty, informal, and inquisitive, your explication should be more formal and make a claim for what you think the poem means, then back that claim up using the poet’s own words (the same way that a research paper uses your sources to support your thesis.)

Also like in a research paper, your opinion or feelings should not come in to play in your explication. The poem might make you feel happy or sad or angry, but don’t simply write “this poem makes me feel sad.” Instead think about WHY the poem makes you feel sad, why the vocabulary or images make you feel the way they do.

Before you begin, you might want to check out the glossary of literary terms and the handout “Issues to Think About When Writing a Literature Paper” on Blackboard (to find them go to “course materials.”)


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