ED paper

Forgot to say in class that the assignment for the short paper on ED, due just before spring break, is now posted as a document on a page to the right.  Enjoy.

Thursday Poems. Woo hoo.

If you want to read, indicate that in a comment below.  Guido, you can take the first slot.

I like Matt’s idea about including letters, since the interrogation of genre is important to our study of ED and also just because they’re lovely.  One possibility (of many) would be to start with ED’s initial letter to Higginson in which she asks him to say if her verses are alive.  You could progress by dates, or by thematic/imagistic resonance.  You should decide if you want to end on an up note or a shiver.  You should decide if you want any commentary within the reading.

Sarah S. could sing to start or finish, yes?  I happen to know that Meg sings also even though she’s never done it for us.

Ask Dr. Scansion (Reprise)

Q:  Dear Dr. Scansion,

I am new to formal analysis of poetry and am anxiously wondering: what terms do I really need to know? Can you help me navigate this new period in my education?



A: Dear Lavinia,

The terms of formal analysis and prosody are numerous, and some people may be comfortable taking on a more complex set, but for the most part you should have a vocabulary that includes the following:

1) basic accentual patterns: iamb, trochee, spondee, pyrrhic, anapest, and dactyl (Note: some people think that the pyrrhic doesn’t exist in English.  You will need to resist peer pressure and decide what seems true to you.  For my part, I believe.)

2) common metrical feet: trimeter, tetrameter, pentameter, hexameter

3) common stanza names: couplet, triplet, quatrain, sestet, octave

4) useful ways to characterize sound patterns: rhyme, half- or slant-rhyme, assonance, consonance, dissonance, alliteration

5) terms that describe line/sentence formations: end-stopped, caesura, enjambment

You may want to be comfortable with a handful of other terms, for example:  sonnet, sestina, blank verse, free verse.

Lavinia, there are resources for people like you.  This site has a wealth of information about prosody and form, or you can turn to sites like the glossary on  for better for verse, which is less exhaustive but has clear definitions.  In either case, don’t forget that reliable friends and grown-ups you trust can be helpful in working through these tough times.  Eventually you may even come to see formal and prosodic analysis as an important part of how you think.

All best wishes,

Dr. Scansion