english 1302 2

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.For Discussion 3 I want you to write a literary analysis of this poem by Robert Hass.

Please consult the “Analyzing a Poem” file in the Module 3 Folder to get ideas of how to go about your analysis.

Your Discussion post should be approximately 500 words.

**You will not be able to see anyone else’s posts until you post to the thread yourself**

A Story About the Body by Robert Hass

The young composer, working that summer at an artist’s colony, had

watched her for a week. She was Japanese, a painter, almost sixty, and

he thought he was in love with her. He loved her work, and her work was

like the way she moved her body, used her hands, looked at him directly

when she made amused or considered answers to his questions. One

night, walking back from a concert, they came to her door and she

turned to him and said, “I think you would like to have me. I would like

that too, but I must tell you I have had a double mastectomy,” and

when he didn’t understand, “I’ve lost both my breasts.” The radiance

that he had carried around in his belly and chest cavity–like music–

withered, very quickly, and he made himself look at her when he said,

“I’m sorry. I don’t think I could.” He walked back to his own cabin

through the pines, and in the morning he found a small blue bowl on the

porch outside his door. It looked to be full of rose petals, but he found

when he picked it up that the rose petals were on top; the rest of the

bowl–she must have swept them from the corners of her studio–was

full of dead bees.
there are where Please consult the “Analyzing a Poem” file in the Module 3 Folder to get ideas of how to go about your analysis took place:


An analysis of a poem is not a summary. An analysis requires an interpretation (explication) by the reader.

An analysis may focus upon a single element of a poem (plot, character, point of view, symbol, tone, figurative language, irony, etc.). An explication (or interpretation) of a work may concentrate on a close reading of a specific part of the work (line-by-line or word-by-word). An explication entails not only what the work means, but how it accomplishes the author’s purpose.

The General Process

1. Examine the title: Is it indicative of a conflict or a human condition? Is it symbolic of something else? Is it sarcastic, satiric, humorous, or serious? Is it descriptive? Why do you think the author chose it?

2. Read the poem: Are there any indications of the meaning? What is the topic? The setting? The voice (the speaker)? What images are evoked? Is there a historical or cultural link?

3. Study the ending: Where has the poem taken you?

4. Examine the poem by parts: Is there an organization? A sequence?

5. Determine the tone: What is the author’s attitude toward the subject?

Characteristics of Poetry

Poetry tends to differ from other literary works by its sound: its use of language.

Start by reading the poem silently. Then read it aloud. Take care to note the literal meaning and figurative meaning. The literal meaning is what actually happens; the figurative meaning is the main idea behind the work, the underlying theme.

The figurative meaning may be discovered by asking yourself the following question: What does the author expect the reader to learn or experience from the poem?

1. What is the theme of the poem? What is the poet trying to say? What is the poem about?

2. What happens in the poem? Are conflicts or themes introduced? Resolved?

3. Who is the speaker? What is the “point of view” or perspective of the speaker? The perspective might be social, intellectual, political, or even physical.

4. What is the setting? What is the time and place? How does the poet make use of the physical description? Does it create a mood?

5. Are there any key statements or lines that indicate meaning? Look for one key line or symbol; however, the poet may make use of recurring symbols, actions, or motifs.

6. How does the sound or language contribute to the poem’s meaning? Does the rhythm affect what the poet is trying to convey? What kinds of words are used? Are there words with double meanings?

7. Is there a historical, ideological, or cultural aspect? Does the poem refer to a world event, period of time, or particular aspect of culture (race, status, gender, class)? What are the basic ideas of the world or human condition or experience (love, hate, orderliness of the universe, etc.)?

8. What qualities or emotions does the poem evoke? How does the poem make you feel?

9. What imagery is used? Does the poet use physical imagery or figures of speech, such as metaphors?

Poets use language to express or represent thoughts, ideas, feelings, actions, or experiences. What do you “see” when you read a poem? Imagery may involve the other senses (hearing, smell) or an abstract concept (thought, intellect). When analyzing a poem, take note of the devices a poet uses to convey or emphasize meaning. The following are a few of the more common poetic devices.

Simile: Directly stated comparisons, using the words “like” or “as.” He fought like a lion.

Metaphor: Implied comparisons of things that are not really alike. “All the world’s a stage.” – Shakespeare.

Personification: Ascribed human attributes to non-human objects. “Meantime the heaven wept upon our heads.” – Stevenson.

Onomatopoeia: The sound of the word reflects its sense: crack, whiz, whoosh, sputter:

Irony: The expressed thought is actually opposite from the intended meaning.

Alliteration: The repetition of consonant sounds – “Some sat, some stood, some slowly strayed.”

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