8 short essay questions literature

1—–Read W. B. Yeats’s poem, “An Irish Airman Foresees His Death” (page 19 of poetry packet) and Thomas Hardy’s “The Man He Killed” (page 11).  In both poems, we are given reasons why the two men chose to fight in a war, each reason very different.  In a short essay, explain your understanding of these very different reasons and discuss which one you agree–or disagree–with most.  Be SPECIFIC in your answer.

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To help make the Hardy poem clearer:

“nipperkin” (line 4) refers to an alcoholic drink

“‘list” (line 13) means to enlist, to join the army

“his traps” (line 15) means one’s possessions–all he owns

“half a crown” (last line) refers to giving someone money to buy himself a drink

2—–Read W. H. Auden’s “The Unknown Citizen” (pages 8-9 of poetry packet), which we have discussed in class, and give your own answer to the two questions asked in the last two lines: “Was he free?  Was he happy?”  Do you agree with Auden that just asking these question is “absurd?”  Why do you believe he says this?  Also, explain what Auden means when he writes, “Had anything been wrong, we should certainly have heard.”  As with all the assignments you will be doing till the end of the semester, please answer in a brief essay.

3—–“Amazing Grace” (page 16) is a poem–which became a famous song in Christian churches throughout the world–that expresses the the basic idea on which much of the Christian religion is built.  Carefully read–and reread–each stanza.  What picture (“philosophic snapshot”) does it paint about human being and why “grace” is so important to a person’s life?  In addition, do you agree or disagree with this picture?  In a brief essay, be very specific in giving your reasons. You might want to include your own personal experience with this message, if such an experience was/is part of your own cultural upbringing.

4—-Countee Cullen’s poem, “Incident” (pages 23-24) is a short, simple poem in which a child remembers one moment from his past.  Being very specific in your answer, write a brief essay explaining exactly what the effect of this very brief incident was on the boy’s life–and maybe even into his adult years.  Refer especially to stanza 3 (page 24 top) and what these last four lines tells you.  Does this incident in any way remind you of something similar you have experienced in your own life and how it affected you?  As always, be very specific in answering.

5—-Choose ANY poem of your choice (one NOT in the poetry packet) and discuss in detail what its “philosophical snapshot,” its meaning, is for you.  Why did you select this poem?  What about its meaning speaks to you.  Explain what some of the lines in the poem mean for you.  Please include the whole poem itself along with your discussion.  This assignment takes the place of the oral presentation assignment which would have taken place if we were still meeting as we used to.  You can search online and find numerous poems from which to choose.

6—-Read Charles Bukowski’s “Poem for My 43rd Birthday” (page 27 of poetry packet).  In stanza 1, Bukowski tells you where he is and what he has (implying what he doesn’t have).  In stanza 2, he describes all the people he is watching going to whatever their job is, all “out there making money.”  In the final stanza, he tells you what he’d going to do after watching them.  In view of the idea we’ve discussed often in class, that “We don’t see things as THEY are, we see things as WE are,” discuss in a brief essay exactly how Bukowski sees the world and the people in it.  Do you agree or disagree with this view?  As always, be specific in your answer. 

7—-Refer to pages 14-16 for both versions of “Richard Cory,” the one by Edwin Arlington Robinson and the one by Paul Simon.  Focus especially on the repeated stanzas used by Simon throughout his poem, particularly his repetition of it at poem’s end.  What “philosophical snapshot” (message) is Paul Simon implying that’s not included in Robinson’s poem?  Please submit answers here by hitting “Reply.”  I will be checking these after their due date on Wednesday, March 18 at 11:59PM.  

8——-Here is the assignment for Wednesday, March 18.  In your poetry packet, read the following three poems by Robert Frost: “The Road Not Taken” (page 1), “Stopping by Woods on A Snowy Evening” (page 3), “Out, Out–” (page 7).  Discuss the “philosophic snapshot,” as we discussed in class, involving the idea of choice.  What part does choosing play in our lives?  With regard to “Out, Out–“, focus on the final sentence and how it relates to choosing how to live our lives following a tragedy.  This will be due Wednesday, March 18 at 11:59PM.  Upload a MS Word document here into Canvas.

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