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This week we will transition to our next genre, poetry. Students will first review important poetry terms (under Lecture Notes) and read supplemental material presented in our textbook. This week’s DBs will focus on a discussion of four poems, “Facing It” by Yusef Komunyakaa, “Mother to Son” by Langston Hughes, “Those Winter Sundays” by Robert Hayden, and “Happiness” by Jane Kenyon. Students should complete the assigned readings before participating in this week’s boards.
As you read “Facing It,” try to put yourself in the shoes of the speaker of the poem—a grieving, isolated, conflicted Vietnam War veteran coming to terms with his emotions about his experience (and his survival) as he faces the memorial in Washington D.C. The speaker for this poem is actually Komunyakaa who served as a war correspondent during this tragic, complicated war.
“Listen” to the voice of the mother in “Mother to Son” and think about how the poet’s use of dialect brings the character of the mother alive with immediacy and genuineness. Pay attention to the year that the poem was published as you think about what challenges the mother may face. Consider the poet’s use of figurative language (the central metaphor of the crystal stair and symbolic imagery) to enrich the poem and its message, not only to the son, but to all readers. *Please note that the text of this poem can be accessed within the corresponding DB.
As you read “Those Winter Sundays,” note the shifting feelings of the young boy in “Those Winter Sundays” as he reminisces about his past childhood and his feelings toward his stoic, but caring father. See how by the end of the poem, a realization has occurred to the speaker. Pay close attention to tone, sensory imagery, and sound devices.
See, too, how Kenyon utilizes figurative language such as simile and metaphor as well as imagery to present compelling thoughts on happiness.
Each poem will have its own individual board. Please click on Weekly Schedule for page numbers of poems. All DBs are due this Sunday, July 8.
Looking ahead: Take a moment to review the criteria for the Poetry Explication essay. Full criteria can be accessed by clicking on Essay Submissions in our course menu. To further assist you, there is also an example of a student-written Poetry Explication essay under Lecture Notes.