2/24 – To Solve a Riddle

Sometimes a manuscript study brings us close to a text just because we need to figure out the text itself.

Other times, the tools of careful-noticing that we use in manuscript study can come in handy doing other things, like the paraphrase you wrote last night. Or, like answering a question. Today we’re going to try and answer two questions about two poems.

First, about the poem you paraphrased, “Those Winter Sundays.” In your lab book underneath the paraphrase, I want you to answer this question:

What is the TONE of this poem and how do you know?

Tone is something we haven’t talked about very much yet, but a simple definition is this: tone is the author’s attitude toward the subject. On the most basic level, tone is typically sympathetic or unsympathetic. But I want you to go further than that. On page 44 in your poems book, there is a list of tone words. See if you can identify one or two that apply to the poem and explain why.

But don’t settle for the simple answer–this is a complex poem and the answer to “tone” is complex, too. Use Perrine’s flashlight: if a tone doesn’t account for all the details of the text, don’t apply it!

Next, I’m going to have us look at a poem called “The Art of Losing.” For this poem, I’m going to ask you to work in small groups to answer this question:

How does the speaker feel about losing and how do you know?

Again, if it was simple, I wouldn’t ask you to answer it. Dig around. Manuscript if needed. Ask the kinds of questions we ask in a manuscript study and then see if you can find a satisfying answer.

For HOMEWORK: Please read Robert Frost’s Essay “Education by Poetry.” In your lab book, write about the first three questions:

  • What –exactly–does Frost say that “education by poetry” is?
  • What –exactly as you can find it — does Frost say metaphor is?
  • What –as exactly as you can find–does Frost say thinking is?



One thought on “2/24 – To Solve a Riddle

  1. When we read “One Art” or as you called it “The Art of Losing” I noticed that it seemed to get faster and faster and then it seemed to settle down in the last stanza when the poem came to a close. The speaker says “farther” “faster” “disaster” “fluster” and although I can’t find a “calm” word in the last stanza it seemed to me almost like a pause or a time to slow down. I think maybe the “–” indicate that when it says “–Even losing you…”

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