Human use of nature

Your essay should be five full pages long, double-spaced (overflowing onto a sixth page if you like), in a standard 12-point font with 1-inch margins. Quotations of more than four consecutive lines of poetry should be formatted as block quotes, set off from your text, indented, and single-spaced. Please give the essay a title, and number your pages. Also, remember to cite poetry by line number rather than page number. You do not need to provide full bibliographical citations for the editions assigned in class—though it’s not a bad idea to get in the habit—but you must provide full citations for any other editions or secondary sources you consult.

 

4. Many of the poems we’ve read this semester, from “The Thresher’s Labour” to “The Poplar Field” and “Nutting,” worry that human use of the natural world, even in the name of improvement, might constitute a kind of violence or destruction. (And some seem not to worry about this when arguably they should: Dyer’s “The Fleece” and Grainger’s “The Sugar-Cane.”) So what’s more of a waste: spoiled or unspoiled nature? Word choice matters: what if we rephrase those alternatives as “cultivated or uncultivated nature”? In what ways might worries about the wasteful treatment of nature (or: laying waste to nature) really represent worries about wasted or spoiled human life? You should focus your essay around a poem from the second half of the course, but you are welcome to one other poem (from the whole syllabus) as a point of reference and comparison. (Any more than two and you won’t be able to accomplish enough analysis in just five pages.)

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