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You are required to submit the thesis and outline by 11:59 p.m. (ET) on Monday of Module/Week 4 for instructor feedback.

The Poetry Essay is due by 11:59 p.m. (ET) on Monday of Module/Week 5 and must include a title page (see the General Writing Requirements), a thesis/outline page, and the essay itself followed by a Works Cited/References page of any primary and/or secondary texts you cite in the essay.


Guidelines for Developing Your Paper Topic


Chapter 41 of the Kennedy and Gioia textbook (Chapter 43, pages 1132–1142 in the eText) provides some helpful pointers for reading poems, taking notes, brainstorming, developing a clearly-defined thesis statement, preparing an outline, writing a cogent literary analysis of a poem, and citing your sources. This chapter specifically addresses Robert Frost’s “Design,” which is studied in this course, so be sure to read it before doing any further work for this assignment. Also, take notice of the example of a poetry thesis and outline on pages 1344–1345 (pages 1135–1136 in the eText).


Choose 1 of the poems from the list below to address in your essay:

  • The Lamb” or “The Tiger” or “The Chimney Sweeper” by William Blake;
  • “Batter my heart, three-personed God” or “Death Be Not Proud” by John Donne (watch the video lecture on  John Donne’s “Batter my heart, three-personed God” for more ideas to help you write your essay on this poem);
  • “Journey of the Magi” by T. S. Eliot;
  • “God’s Grandeur” or “Pied Beauty” or “Spring” by Gerard Manley Hopkins;
  • “Ode on a Grecian Urn” or “Ode to a Nightingale” by John Keats;
  • “Ozymandias” by Percy Bysshe Shelley;
  • “My Last Duchess” by Robert Browning (watch the video lecture on  Robert Browning’s “My Last Duchess” for more ideas to help you write your essay on this poem);
  • “Sailing to Byzantium” by William Butler Yeats;
  • “The Road Not Taken” or “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost;
  • “It Sifts from Leaden Sieves” or “There’s No Frigate Like A Book” by Emily Dickinson (Read  Gilbert and Gubar’s “The Freedom of Emily Dickinson” for more ideas to help you write your essay on Dickinson’s poetry);
  • “Ulysses” by Alfred Lord Tennyson; and
  • “That Time of Year” (Sonnet 73) by William Shakespeare (watch the video lecture on  William Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 73”for more ideas to help you write your essay on this poem).


Consider the following questions for the poem that you have chosen:

  • What is or are the theme(s) of the poem?
  • Is there a literal setting or situation in the poem? What lines from the poem tell the reader this information? What details does the author include? 
  • Is the setting symbolic?
  • How would you describe the mood of the poem? What elements contribute to this mood?
  • Is the title significant to the poem’s content or meaning? How?
  • What major literary devices and figures of speech does the poet use to communicate the theme(s)? 
  • How are rhyme and other metrical devices used in the poem? Do they support the poem’s overall meaning? Why or why not?
  • Is the identity of the poem’s narrator clear? How would you describe this person? What information, if any, does the author provide about him or her?
  • Does the narrator seem to have a certain opinion of or attitude about the poem’s subject matter? How can you tell?


NOTE: These questions are a means of getting your thoughts in order when you are collecting information for your essay. You do not need to include the answers to all of these questions in your essay; only include those answers that directly support your thesis statement.

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