Length: 5-7 pages
Poetry is a form of writing that is often concerned with issues of poetic inheritance. Poets often find themselves working with or against themes, motifs, forms, or aesthetic dilemmas that they have inherited and that they feel the need to modify, correct, critique, or reject. For this paper you are to consider two to three poems in relationship with each other. Pick one early poem that addresses a particular aesthetic, formal, or thematic concern or dilemma and discuss how it does the work of resolving that concern, focusing on reading closely and citing the poem to make your case. Then pick a later poem (or poems) that inherits (or inherit) and modifies, in some way shape or form, the concern and show how it resolves its own historical dilemmas. For each poem begin by describing the content of the poem. Next describe the formal features that contribute to your understanding of that content. After that describe any aesthetic dilemma you see operative in the poem and explain in detail how the poet resolves that dilemma.
Possible topics might include:
– An examination of how poets after Wordsworth have made claims for poetry’s ability to resist social or personal alienation.
– An examination of a later 20th century poet and an earlier 20th century poet in terms of how each adapts to a shifting worldview that experiences the world as filled with overwhelming political, economic, social, philosophical, and scientific uncertainty.
– An examination of the ways poets have used, or modified, the sonnet in terms of its historical association with love poetry.
– An examination of how a 19th century poet and a 20th (or 21st) century poet thinks about the self as a stable entity.
– An examination of the ways poets have interpreted “classical” literature.
– An examination of the ways poets have thought about writing as a form of immortality or resistance to death.
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