Analysis: Many critics often call “The Second Coming” a prophetic poem, suggesting that Yeats is writing not so much about history but more as someone who sees what the future “surely” holds. Others, however, argue that this poem oscillates or progresses between what has happened, what is happening, and what will happen.
Once you have decided how you would classify the poem (historical? prophetic? timeline?), trace and describe the events that Yeats provides through the text. A way to get started with this question is to ask yourself if the poem is a reflection of the past, contemplation of the present, or prediction of the future – or any combination of those.
Something to keep in mind: The poem is written in present tense, for example, “falcon cannot hear the falconer,” “blood-dimmed tide is loosed," so how does that impact you as a reader? By reading a poem in present tense, what is the effect?
Comparison & Analysis: In Espada’s “Litany at the Tomb of Frederick Douglass” and in Trethewey’s “Pilgrimage," we are given experiences at historical intersections. We experience what our writers feel as they consider the history of the places where they literally stand. While both tell their stories through their physical surroundings, they also consider the metaphysical. Tretheway notes a “ghost of history lies down beside me, rolls over, pins me beneath a heavy arm,” while Espada suggests, “Believers in spirits would see the pages trembling on the stone and say: Look how the slave boy teaches himself to read."
For this response, first, offer an analysis of how the poems are able to capture not only their present experiences but also reveal the history that they are experiencing as they stand in these hallowed places. Next, compare the poems. Do the poets use similar techniques? Different? What about the tones? Consider any other points you’d like as you compose a comparative discussion of the two poems.
Thematic Comparison & Analysis: As we saw based on the variety of readings about love and relationships, love is complex. Some authors write love as though it is eternal, while others reflect on its ephemeral, ever-changing nature. Some authors draw on nature to symbolize love, while others reference forbidden relationships, the inseparable connections between emotions and intimate physical relationships, and heartbreak. Love is paradoxical in that it is unique and special, yet universal and familiar.
But, no matter which of the point-of-view, there seem to be some thematic elements that connect writings about love. In this response, you are asked to identify one of those themes from at least two works about love and relationships from the Module or anywhere in the Valencia Reader and compare and analyze the details of the works.
For example, if you wanted to talk about love and nature, you could analyze and compare “The Passionate Shepard to His Love” and “The Nymph’s Reply to the Shepard." Eternal love? Consider “How Do I Love Thee” and “Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day?" The theme and works are your choices, just be sure to limit the scope of the discussion to one particular theme.
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