Week 5 discussion forum: poetry 2: poetry annotations

POEM: https://poets.org/poem/mending-wall


  • Understand the general nature, purposes, and techniques of literature with a sense of its relationship to life and culture. 
  • Recognize a representative selection of literary works by major writers (including notable stylistic devices and features) representing a diversity of prominent historical and cultural traditions and issues.
  • Understand the biographical, historical, and cultural contexts of a representative selection of works by major writers. 
  • Identify the relationships among the literary works studied and the philosophical, religious, political, social, and economic milieus of the cultures and subcultures within and among which they were written.
  • Engage and respond to literary texts personally and creatively.
  • Think, write, and speak about literary texts critically and effectively.

Primary Post

Select one poem from the collection you chose to read. Do some research to situate the poem historically and culturally. When was it written? Consider what events (personal or public), movements, or culture its content reflects. What is special about the poem’s form or structure? Why are specific words significant? What meanings do they carry? How does figurative language deepen the poem’s meaning? What images are most impacting?

After your initial research, annotate the poem by writing ten notes explaining your reading and interpretation of the poem. An example is included.

  1. Each note should be 1-5 sentences long.
  2. You must write notes that fit in eight of the following categories (see list below). That means you may skip one and you will need to repeat one or two. See the example provided.
  3. You may use a comment system as shown in the example or other method of inserting your comments into a copy of the poem as long as your comments are easily distinguished from the lines of the poem.
  4. Include a Reference Page at the end of your assignment, noting any sources that helped you to understand the poem.

Annotation Categories

  • Date and culture (When was the poem published, and how does this help us to understand the poem? Are there any references that are best understood within a certain cultural context?)
  • Diction (Discuss the poet’s word choices. Why are the specific words he or she uses important? What meanings do they carry?)
  • Form (Write a comment on the form of the poem, including the way its stanzas or lines are grouped, any specific structure it conforms to (such as sonnet, haiku, ode, etc.), or the use of repetition or structure of the lines. There are many poetic forms explained in the two glossaries of poetic terms listed under this week’s resources.)
  • Explanation (What does a particular phrase or line mean? How is a certain poetic device at work? Explain it in your own words. Your explanation will likely be longer than the line you are explaining.)
  • Figurative language (Label and discuss the effect of an example of figurative language: simile, metaphor, apostrophe, personification, onomatopoeia, etc.)
  • Imagery (Identify and discuss the effect or importance of an example of imagery)
  • Shift (Identify a moment in the poem where the tone, purpose, or direction changes. What new focus does the shift lead a reader to?)
  • Question (Write a question about a line, image, or phrase in the poem. Include a possible answer.)
  • Theme (Discuss the poem’s theme. What message do you take away from the poem? Try to include a note on theme. How does a certain phrase, word, or poetic device build the theme?)
  • Sound (What devices use sounds to create effects in the poem? Rhyme? Alliteration? Cacophony? Repetition? Anaphora? How do the sound devices establish a mood or add a layer of meaning to the poem?)
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