critical moments

poetry book
For reasons that I won’t go into here, I have just spent the last two days writing a formal “critical review”. I can’t say I enjoyed the experience and I was delighted to take the opportunity to sneak out to watch a firework display last night. As the local secondhand book shop was having a late night opening, I decided to pop in on the way home and delay my return to my desk even longer.

I didn’t find anything to help me with my MLA citations, but I found a delightful book called Pattern Poetry, first published in 1926, which offers up all sorts of interesting possibilities for comment and critique on well-known and less well-known poems.

In the image is Tennyson’s Break, Break, Break! followed by a fascinating selection of tasks for the reader:

  • What is the real subject of these lines?
  • Select three sea-pictures “painted” in a few words by the poet.
  • Study the descriptive words: cold, gray stones; stately ships, etc.
  • Which phrases in the poem do you enjoy most?
  • Which looks duller – grey or gray?
  • Later in the book come the opening lines of Longfellow’s Hiawatha. The reader is asked:

  • How soon does the poet show that he is writing of Red Indians?
  • Make a coloured sketch of a wigwam.
  • And after Browning’s The Pied Piper of Hamelin we are asked to consider:

  • The writer of this poem was the husband of the writer of “The Romaunt of the Page.” What kind of a man do you think he was?”
  • This is all so much more fun than the critical analysis that I am supposed to be doing. I’m running a poetry workshop next week and I’m very tempted to have them all drawing pictures and gossiping about the private lives of the poets.

    Author: don't confuse the narrator

    Exploring the boundary between writer and narrator through first person poetry, prose and opinion

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