As part of our continuing study of poetry, you will be keeping a journal of annotated poems and your commentary. Completing the journal tasks will help you with your facility and understanding of poetry as a genre and should aid in your reading and writing about poetry in preparation for both class assignments and the AP exam.
Each chapter of Sound and Sense is structured in the same way. The opening part of the chapter contains an explanation of the aspect of poetry being studied, with a small number of poems to illustrate the aspect (usually 2-4). A number of poems are included after the explanation for additional study. These are delineated in the table of contents by a line separating the parts of the chapter.
You will be preparing three journal entries for each chapter. Each entry should be assembled in the journal the same way. On a right-hand page, tape or glue a copy of the poem. I suggest you search for the poem and print a copy rather than hand-copying, especially if the poem is lengthy. Be sure to leave some space around the poem for annotation.
Annotation methods vary from student to student, but the goal of any method should be increased depth of thinking about the poem. The TPCASTT and Color Marking methods you have pasted into the inside front cover of the journal can guide your thinking. Instructions on both may also be found here.
On the corresponding left-hand page, you will be completing a task. This task will differ depending on which section of the chapter you are working with.
Please complete your entries in the following order:
ENTRY 1: Practice Poem
Read the entire explanatory section of the chapter, including all of the poems used in the explanation. Select one poem of at least ten lines in the section for your journal entry. Complete your annotation. On the left-hand page, answer the questions provided in the chapter for your selected poem.
ENTRY 2: Analysis Poem
Select one poem of at least ten lines from the section for additional study. Annotate the poem carefully. On the left-hand side, complete the Gimme Three Steps method pasted into the inside back cover of your journal. List any appropriate notes you need, drawing conclusions about overall patterns rather than listing all details, and create a two-step thesis as directed.
ENTRY 3: Reaction Poem
Select a second poem of at least ten lines from the section for additional study. Annotate the poem carefully. On the left-hand side, write a thoughtful reaction to the poem. What do you notice about it? What makes it interesting? Pleasing? Challenging? What overall impression do you have about what this poem is trying to communicate? Refer to specific quotations in the poem where appropriate.
Your careful journal work will help you with poetry analysis and writing questions in both the multiple choice and free response sections of the AP exam. Try to vary the types and styles of poems you select; think about period, form, style, etc. as you choose. We will be focusing on a chapter in Sound and Sense about every two weeks. Please label all pages of your journal entry with the chapter number for reference. You should bring your copy of Sound and Sense and your prepared journal to class that day for checkoff.
Are we actually reading all these books? Do we read the whole book of each selection? How many books do we read this year? Do you do in class group readings? You should complete an “elite eight” of titles by the end of the course. Some we’ll read in class together, and the others you’ll read on your own. I’ll assign the bulk of the works, but you’ll have a few opportunities for input into what we’ll be reading. If you’re talking about reading aloud for the class, no.
Will we be reading more modern or older books? The works I’ve selected are a blend of both. We’ll be spanning the gamut from ancient Greek drama to 20th-century masterpieces. And no, they won’t all be Shakespeare.
Are there other readings other than listed? We will read a few short works at the very beginning of the course to warm up your literary engines. We will also study poetry throughout the course alongside the major plays and novels.
Is the reading going to be very hard to understand? Some works will be more challenging than others. If you work diligently and ask questions, you should be fine. Students who complain that books are impossible are usually the ones who either 1) Haven’t read them at all and are trying to justify using the SparkNotes instead (not recommended) or 2) Procrastinated until they couldn’t complete the assigned reading, even if they intended to, and are therefore lost because they have no idea what everyone else is talking about. But if you ever do hit a snag, ask me. Helping you is my job!
What is the workload like? Will we have a lot of homework? Plan to do some reading nearly every night when you have an assigned novel in hand. Other assignments, like out of class essays, will have due dates for both the initial draft and the final copy to be submitted for grading posted well in advance so you can plan for them. Class will be a mixture of individual and group work, while homework is usually reading, completing tasks associated with the reading, poetry journals, and occasional out of class writing assignments or projects. Socratic seminars will be conducted at the end of each major work; you will be expected to prepare for these by completing a Six Pack Sheet as you read. More details later.
Will I be expected to read at my own pace, or are we given a schedule for when certain books should be read? I don’t usually specify a certain number of pages per night, since all of you differ in the kind and amount of homework you have. I will post on the class calendar how far you need to progress at certain points, like everyone being at the end of Chapter 10 on a particular date. Those days are usually posted on the whiteboard in the front of the class as well.
How often will we write? How many essay types will we work on? Writing practice happens frequently. Expect either an in-class timed writing or an out-of-class prepared essay for each major work. Out-of-class essays and the occasional revision of an in-class writing will be submitted electronically. You’ll also be practicing the prose and poetry questions of the AP exam. AP Lit essays, since they explore themes within works, are nearly always a kind of analysis. There is no synthesis-style question on the AP Lit exam. Figure on about an essay a week, on average. Alas, there’s very little time available for creative writing (short stories/poetry), but if you’re inclined to write that, I’d love to hear about it!
Is this class harder than AP Lang? That’s tough to answer. Both Lang and Lit are asking you to analyze writing at some of the highest levels. They’re designed to stretch you. They look at two different things, though. Lang focuses on claim and support for argumentation and primarily focuses on nonfiction works (essays, letters, speeches, etc.), while Lit asks you to provide textual evidence for interpretation of meaning. The claim and evidence structure is the same, but the type of claim and the evidence differ. If you tend to love novels and plays more than nonfiction, you might find Lit “easier,” although that’s really not the best word for it.
How many tests but we have per month? Is there a curve on tests? You’ll be writing far more often than you’ll be taking a test. An occasional reading quiz (quote and short answer format, primarily) might pop up, but old-school, end-of-chapter tests with a bajillion multiple choice questions? Not in here. Most of the multiple choice questions you’ll see will be AP practice items, and they aren’t graded like regular tests. I rarely curve because I rarely need to.
What materials do we need? Didn’t you read the syllabus? Notebook paper, a writing utensil (preferably pen), and a composition book. NO SPIRALS. Why? Because spiral notebook paper likes to have inappropriate relations with other spiral notebook paper, littering my desk with wee spiral shrapnel and generally making a nuisance of itself. Spiral paper is no bueno. If you can tear pages out of a spiral neatly and without that evil shredded wheat on the side, okay—but you’re pushing it!
What is life like when you take AP Lit? Pretty much like life without it, but with more books. Seriously, though, that depends on what kind of reader you are. If you enjoy reading and writing or are really good at planning your study time, you should be able to fit things in just fine. If you put it off or take shortcuts, it will start to dog your life and make you say naughty things. If your procrastination level equals the completion date of the Majesty Building, then ask me for tips on how to become a ninja in completion rather than avoidance.
How is the exam going to be set up? The AP Literature exam has two parts. Part I, the Multiple Choice section, comprises 45% of the overall score. The section has 55 questions which will test your close reading of both prose and poetry. Selections will be drawn from pre-20th century and post-20th century works. This section takes one hour. Part II, the Free Response, comprises 55% of the overall score. You will write three essays. One asks you to respond to a poem, one asks you to respond to a prose passage, and the third asks you to select a work of literature to illustrate/explore a given theme. This section takes two hours. There is no reading period on the AP Literature exam.
Will I be surprised by the AP exam? The only thing that will be a surprise on this exam will be the content of the questions themselves. You will practice every type of question several times so that you can be relaxed and ready to rock on test day.
What happens if I don’t pass the AP exam? Technically, there is no “passing” an AP exam, since the 1-5 composite score expresses the College Board’s recommendation for conferring college credit for the coursework. Typically, most colleges award credit for a score of 3 or higher, which means less money coming out of your pocket for tuition. The course is designed to train you to produce college-level work. Regardless of your score on the exam, if you do your work diligently for me and listen to me when I try to help you improve, you should be just fine in college. Your high school credits and graduation status are not affected by your AP score.
COLLEGE AND WHATNOT
Do you write recommendation letters? How about help with college essays? Scholarships? Yes, and yes. For letters, you might want to consider waiting until second semester, when I know you better, and ask me for scholarship recommendations or assistance. I’m happy to review essays as long as you give me some lead time. Last minute requests for either make me cranky; if I’m feeling benevolent, I might help you out—but you’ll have to grovel first. And I’ll put that picture on Instagram (you can bow your head in shame to hide your face, though).
Can you help with finding scholarships? What scholarships are available to seniors? How to obtain as much scholarship money as I can? Attaining scholarships can feel like a real burden, but they don’t have to be. The main thing is to stay organized and apply, apply, apply. The best scholarships, and the ones you’re more likely to earn, usually require effort: a full application, an essay, etc. Make sure you qualify for the scholarship you’re applying for so you make the best use of your time. And keep checking the Dr. Phillips Student Services page—it lists scholarships all the time, usually organized by deadline.
Where did you go to college? I earned my bachelor’s at Presbyterian College in Clinton, South Carolina. I double-majored in English and Fine Arts (drama/speech concentration) and minored in history. I earned a master’s at UCF in secondary English education. College was awesome. I highly recommend it.
What’s the best tip for doing well in senior year? Plan. Schedule your commitments, including homework, community service, jobs, etc., and stick to it. Remember that even though it feels like you’re done with high school, it ain’t over ’til it’s over, and it ain’t over until May. Keep on pushing!
What are some good anti-procrastination techniques? If I knew a great answer to that, I’d be a gazillionaire. Since I’m not, I’ll refer you to some great time management apps you should install on your phone or extensions to add to Chrome. Check out links to some of them in the “Simplify Your Life” menu to the right.
THE OTHER STUFF
Can we eat in class? I’ve had seniors who swore to me that they would be neat but who actually turned out to be Visigoths. Don’t be like them. I’m fine with drinks in containers with caps. Finger snacks like Goldfish crackers or carrots are okay, but save anything you have to eat with utensils for later. And pick up your trash!
Can we listen to 70s/80s music all year? Can we listen to music in class? What’s your favorite band? What’s your favorite rapper/rap group? I actually have pretty wide musical taste, so you’ll hear a little of everything except things I can’t concentrate to (sorry, screamo and hardcore rap). I won’t play music every day, but it makes regular appearances. As far as bands go, I have a bunch of music from R.E.M., Rush, Sting, The Police, U2, Jimmy Buffett, Foo Fighters, big band orchestras, Miles Davis, Liz Phair, and 80s music. I’m always open to new artists as long as they’re melodic, which is how my kids got me into Alt-J and St. Paul and the Broken Bones. And although rap is a genre I don’t listen to often, I like artists who have something intelligent to say in an interesting way, so bring on the Public Enemy, De La Soul, Childish Gambino, Kendrick Lamar, and Missy Elliott.
How long have you been teaching? What is your favorite thing about teaching? Since last century. It’s never the same day twice, and being around young people keeps me young.
What’s your favorite children’s book/book? Children’s books: Go, Dog. Go!, Charlotte’s Web, the Little House, Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, and Nicholas Flamel series, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, and The Phantom Tollbooth.
Grown people books: Pride and Prejudice, Fahrenheit 451, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Winter’s Tale.
Other favorites (color, animal, country, TV show, movie, thing ever)? • Blue, green, or purple (depends on the day)
• Horses for beauty and dogs for loyalty and companionship
• Scotland, because it’s the home of one of my hidden talents—traditional Scottish Highland dance. My other “hidden” talent is that I’m a published author. • British murder mysteries, especially those with history like Foyle’s War and Grantchester, The Big Bang Theory, classic Star Trek. I also enjoy hate-watching House Hunters. • The Princess Bride, Better Off Dead, Raising Arizona, Young Frankenstein, Galaxy Quest, The Emperor’s New Groove, and Monty Python and the Holy Grail. And Star Wars. All of it. Even The Phantom Menace, because you should always be kind to the awkward people.
What was your hair color before it was grey? Medium to dark brown. It’s still in there, but the white is taking over. Look closely and you’ll see.
What’s something you’ve never said aloud? What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done? If I’ve never said it aloud, why would I write it down? And probably agreeing to an AMA with high school seniors, LOL.
What is your favorite subreddit? Do you use Reddit a lot? Actually, I don’t use Reddit at all, but if I did, you’d find me with the writers and geeks and general know-it-alls. I’m all over Twitter, however.
Could Ned Stark have found a way out of that “situation”? Not really. His loyalty was to Robert Baratheon, so it’s not like he could refuse the request to become the Hand of the King. And he was basically too honorable to think that Cersei Lannister was plotting to get him and King Robert out of the way, but he figured it out. Too bad it was too late when he did. I’m sure Arya will set things straight, though. She’s on a roll.
Is this class going to be lit? If you’re being literal, then of course, because it’s already LITerature. If you mean the colloquial phrase closely related to “turnt,” then clearly you haven’t received proper intel, or you’d know the answer to this question already.
How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop?
Perhaps you’ve seen this image floating about on the Interwebs:
Of course it’s hilarious if you’ve ever read The Lord of the Rings, but it’s also fairly instructive at reinforcing some simple poetry analysis. Let’s take a look:
STRUCTURE: Divisions within a poem, like stanzas, present ideas in smaller chunks to consider. The clearest division in this poem obviously occurs between the first two lines and the four that follow. The division is signaled not only by the line break, but also by the switch to all caps.
DICTION, IMAGERY, and PERSONIFICATION: Note the difference between the verbs “stop,” “go,” and “wait” in the first two lines and “kneel” and “stares” in the final four, which add to the sense of foreboding. In a like manner, the personification of the normal and friendly red, green, and “twinkling” yellow lights shifts to the “demon light” of the final four lines, its “eye of coal” a dark and unsettling presence in the driver’s world. Not only does it exist, but the “demon light” “knows your license plate,” suggesting that perhaps you might slow down a bit and stop throwing trash out the window when you think no one’s looking.
METER: The repetitive pattern of the first two lines stresses the initial verbs to give them emphasis, followed by an almost sing-song rhythm of explanation ending in the throwaway rhyme and thin “ee” vowel sound of “green” and “between.” After the shift, the metrical pattern changes. Although “kneel” receives the same initial emphasis, the following line contains a different pattern, with stress falling on the “de” in “demon,” “eye,” and “coal.” The lighter rhythm of the first two lines is supplanted by harsher words and harder accents. The new pattern’s stresses lean harder on the words “coal” and “soul,” adding to the negative tone of the second part of the poem.
ALLUSION: Anyone who’s read The Lord of the Rings or seen the films is familiar with Sauron, who forged the One Ring of Power during the Second Age to rule the rings he created for the kings of men, elves, and dwarves. Sauron’s blazing eye is the key disembodied antagonist threatening Frodo and the Fellowship and their mission to destroy the One Ring in Mount Doom and free Middle Earth. Alluding to Sauron reinforces the idea that the “demon light” not only knows your license plate, but ideas about yourself and the secrets you’re hiding.
Quite a lot for such a little poem, but there’s always more to think about in a poem if you’re willing to look closely.
Without a doubt, working with poetry causes AP Lit students the most angst. However, this process does not have to be onerous! Working your way through a poem thoughtfully takes care and attention. Here are two methods you can employ to help you process even the most mysterious of sonnets and have it make (more) sense.
COLOR MARKING PROSE AND POETRY PASSAGES
Technique by Dr. Jan Adkins, St. Petersburg High School IB Program
Defining the Terms:
IMAGE: a word (or more than one word) appealing to at least one of our senses; an image deals with reader response. Of our five senses (visual, auditory, olfactory, tactile, gustatory), the visual is the strongest.
IMAGE PATTERN: the repetition of three (yes, three is a magic number!) images, not necessarily in uninterrupted succession.
MOTIF: a repeated pattern of any type within a work. Note that an image pattern IS a motif, but a motif is NOT always an image pattern.
Mark with a different color each type of image/image pattern/motif predominant in the passage.
Based on your color marking, ask these questions (think about them as you go; you don’t necessarily have to write the answers):
–Is there some logical progression of imagery/motifs, from one type to another?
–Is the progression illogical?
–How do the images/motifs reinforce and/or illustrate the content of the passage? Imagery reinforces content by giving it emphasis, making it fresh (an unusual or creative use of imagery), and/or by adding irony (imagery appears to contradict the content or describe it in terms of its opposite qualities).
Based on your answers to these questions and any others you think appropriate, CODE each color marked with INFERENCES you draw about the use of that particular image/image pattern/motif.
At the bottom of the page, write a brief interpretation of the poem. Use information from your color marking to explain your reasoning.
The TPCASTT method helps you make sense of a poem by considering different parts/aspects.
T – TITLE: The meaning of the title without reference to the poem.
P – PARAPHRASE: Put the poem, line by line, in your own words. DO NOT READ INTO THE POEM. Only read on surface level.
C – CONNOTATION: Looking for deeper meaning. Consider nuances of word meanings and how they are being applied:
Diction and symbolism
Metaphors and similes
End rhymes and internal rhymes
A – ATTITUDE: Looking for the author’s tone. How is the writer speaking?
S – SHIFTS: Looking for shifts in tone, action, and rhythm. Don’t just write the number. Discuss how the shift(s) affects the poem.
T – TITLE: Reevaluate the title now that you have considered the elements in the piece. How does it signal the overall meaning?
T – THEME: What does the poem mean? What is it saying? How does it relate to life?
Comments Off on Poetry Journals: Annotation and Analysis
Langston Hughes’ 1925 poem “I, Too, Sing America” is one of the best-known of all poems of the Harlem Renaissance. Its message of inclusive hope reverberated across the twentieth century and continues to be a touchstone for people seeking a place at the table. Here are several interpretations of the poem to consider as you review the text.
First, Langston Hughes reading his own poem:
The political advocacy group Emerging US made the poem the focal point for this video focusing on the Mexican-American experience in Los Angeles:
YouTube user IndianaTheGreat juxtaposed images from the Civil Rights Era to audio of Denzel Washington reading the poem in the film The Great Debaters and clips from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech during the March on Washington.
Hughes’s poem was written as a response to Walt Whitman’s famous free-verse poem “I Hear America Singing.” This visual representation of the poem by YouTube user Dustin Rowland illustrates the breadth of the American experience Whitman intended to celebrate.
Finally, this is Whitman himself, reading his poem “America.”
In the Victorian period of the late 19th century, classical themes and topics enjoyed a revival. One of the most popular sources of inspiration were the tales of King Arthur and the knights of Camelot. Sir Walter Scott’s Idylls of the King re-told many of these stories. Scott’s works were wildly popular, so it’s no surprise that characters from Arthurian legend emerged in many artworks of the time, like this painting, John William Waterhouse’s “The Lady of Shalott.” The painting depicts the Lady’s final journey down the river as she abandons her tower on the Isle of Shalott for love. It is her unrequited love for Lancelot and her urge to join him in Camelot that brings down the curse that ends ultimately in her death. Notice how in the painting she has brought with her the tapestry that she was weaving in the tower, a sad remembrance of her shadowed life.
Tennyson’s poem echoes the classical medieval ballad in its use of repetitive words and phrases (“Shalott” and “Camelot”), the inclusion of a story of destruction (the Lady’s life and death), a domestic issue (by choosing love, the Lady seals her fate), and a supernatural element (the curse).
Neo-Celtic musician Loreena McKennitt set the words of Tennyson’s poem to original music, using instrumentation and style that would not have felt out of place in the Victorian era. The video below incorporates the words of the poem with artworks from the period depicting the Lady, her chosen knight (Lancelot), and her doom.
If your birthday occurs between January and June, you will be analyzing the Robert Browning poem “My Last Duchess.” Using the TPCASTT strategy may be a helpful way to discern meaning within the poem. Ultimately, you will need to create and support an AP-style statement with information gleaned from the poem itself. Your AP statement should read as follows:
The writer (use the author’s name) employs X (articulate techniques and strategies) to reveal Y (the theme of the poem).
Here is the text of your poem:
My Last Duchess by Robert Browning
That’s my last Duchess painted on the wall,
Looking as if she were alive. I call
That piece a wonder, now: Frà Pandolf’s hands
Worked busily a day, and there she stands.
Will’t please you sit and look at her? I said
“Frà Pandolf” by design, for never read
Strangers like you that pictured countenance,
The depth and passion of its earnest glance,
But to myselfthey turned (since none puts by
The curtain I have drawn for you, but I)
And seemed as they would ask me, if they durst,
How such a glance came there; so, not the first
Are you to turn and ask thus. Sir, ’twas not
Her husband’s presence only, called that spot
Of joy into the Duchess’ cheek: perhaps
Frà Pandolf chanced to say “Her mantle laps
Over my Lady’s wrist too much,” or “Paint
Must never hope to reproduce the faint
Half-flush that dies along her throat”: such stuff
Was courtesy, she thought, and cause enough
For calling up that spot of joy. She had
A heart — how shall I say? — too soon made glad,
Too easily impressed; she liked whate’er
She looked on, and her looks went everywhere.
Sir, ’twas all one! My favour at her breast,
The dropping of the daylight in the West,
The bough of cherries some officious fool
Broke in the orchard for her, the white mule
She rode with round the terrace — all and each
Would draw from her alike the approving speech,
Or blush, at least. She thanked men, — good! but thanked
Somehow — I know not how — as if she ranked
My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name
With anybody’s gift. Who’d stoop to blame
This sort of trifling? Even had you skill
In speech — (which I have not) — to make your will
Quite clear to such an one, and say, “Just this
Or that in you disgusts me; here you miss,
Or there exceed the mark” — and if she let
Herself be lessoned so, nor plainly set
Her wits to yours, forsooth, and made excuse,
–E’en then would be some stooping, and I choose
Never to stoop. Oh sir, she smiled, no doubt,
Whene’er I passed her; but who passed without
Much the same smile? This grew; I gave commands;
Then all smiles stopped together. There she stands
As if alive. Will’t please you rise? We’ll meet
The company below, then. I repeat,
The Count your master’s known munificence
Is ample warrant that no just pretence
Of mine for dowry will be disallowed;
Though his fair daughter’s self, as I avowed
At starting, is my object. Nay, we’ll go
Together down, sir. Notice Neptune, though,
Taming a sea-horse, thought a rarity,
Which Claus of Innsbruck cast in bronze for me!
If your birthday occurs between July and December, you will be analyzing the Matthew Arnold poem “Dover Beach.” Using the TPCASTT strategy may be a helpful way to discern meaning within the poem. Ultimately, you will need to create and support an AP-style statement with information gleaned from the poem itself. Your AP statement should read as follows:
The writer (use the author’s name) employs X (articulate techniques and strategies) to reveal Y (the theme of the poem).
Here is the text of your poem:
Dover Beach by Matthew Arnold
The sea is calm to-night.
The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the straits; on the French coast the light
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand;
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.
Come to the window, sweet is the night-air!
Only, from the long line of spray
Where the sea meets the moon-blanched land,
Listen! you hear the grating roar
Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,
At their return, up the high strand,
Begin, and cease, and then again begin,
With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
The eternal note of sadness in.
Sophocles long ago
Heard it on the A gaean, and it brought
Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow
Of human misery; we
Find also in the sound a thought,
Hearing it by this distant northern sea.
The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth’s shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.
Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.
Originally crafted as the preface to William Blake’s epic poem Milton, A Poem, “Jerusalem” refers to the common English belief that Joseph of Arimathea traveled to Britain with his nephew, Jesus, during the lost years of Jesus’s life not recorded in the Gospels. British church tradition views Jerusalem as a metaphor for heaven, a state of universal peace and love. These lines were set to music in 1916 by Sir Hubert Parry. The resulting hymn is now an unofficial anthem of England. It is sung annually at the Last Night of the Proms, an eight-week series of summer classical music concerts conducted at the Royal Albert Hall. It has also been sung at cricket and football matches, the opening ceremonies of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, the royal wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, various films, and, memorably, in sketches by Monty Python.
This is a nice video of the British countryside accompanied by a choral arrangement of the hymn. Enjoy!