Read the selections from the “Reading Other Poems” section of chapter 1 (15-25). Think about the poem(s) as “utterances coming out of a particular life situation. Try to make deductions from each one” (Vendler 15). Write a response about your findings. Follow her questions as much as you need to:
- What has recently happened to the speaker?
- What aspects of his or her life has the speaker been thinking about? Is this a private life situation (a family death, for instance) or a public situation (a religious massacre, a war memorial [for example])?
- What stage of life has the speaker reached?
- How much does the speaker tell you about his or her feelings?
As you see on page 15, some of her additional questions are specific to one poem or another, and some of the questions ask you to compare poems. Use these prompts in whatever way is helpful, especially if you pick a poem that she doesn’t mention in her questions.
In your response, you may also discuss what drew you to the poem and how the poem demonstrates the general theme of “the poem as life.” Develop your ideas in paragraph form (rather than short answers to a series of stand-alone questions). One and half double-spaced typed page