Choose ONE of the following poems from The Harbrace Anthology of Poetry: “Winter Evening”
(HP 190-91), “A Country Without a Mythology” (HP 261-62), “The Landlady” (HP 268-69), or
“Border Station” (HP 370-71). Present a detailed analysis of the poem you have chosen. You
may, if you wish, follow this model:
1. Begin your paper by introducing the poem. Paraphrase the poem’s content. Restate its
literal meaning in your own words ("This paper describes . . . .") Questions you might consider:
— Is it a particular type of poem?
— What is the dramatic situation of the poem? what is its setting?
— Who is speaking? To whom is s/he speaking? Is there more than one speaker?
— What is the argument of the poem? its logical content?
— What is the author’s attitude toward his/her subject? Does this attitude change?
Use evidence and specific details from the poem to support your argument about what you
think the poem is about.
2. Next, analyze the methods and techniques the poet uses to structure the poem. How
does the poet communicate the meaning you discuss in part 1? How does the form of the
poem relate to its content? Questions you might consider:
— What is the structure of the poem? Are there changes in subject matter or tone? If so,
describe these changes. How do these changes (if any) relate to the formal divisions in the
poem (lines, stanzas, &c.)?
— Examine the key images, especially those that link one part of the poem to another.
— Consider how the following elements function in the poem:
imagery, unexpected expressions, concrete detail
word choice, word order, connotations of words
metaphor, simile, symbol
rhythm, rhyme, alliteration, assonance
repetition, contrast, comparison, irony
stanzaic structure, variations in line lengths
(Note: you may select items on this list or others that are relevant to the poem.) Again, cite specific evidence, making close reference to the poem’s words. Your analysis of
sounds, figurative language, repetition, etc. should be tied into a larger discussion of how the
poem works as a whole. Don’t just give examples, but try to show why those examples are
significant tie them to a discussion that you organize.
3. The big question: So What?
— Starting from the specific and concrete details of the poem’s literal meaning, try to
suggest what other or larger ideas the poem seems to address.
— Suggest what feeling, attitude or impression the poem ultimately expresses through all
the strategies it employs (i.e., the evidence you’ve collected in parts 1 and 2.) How, exactly,
does the poem elicit or create your impressions and feelings?
Note: Try to anticipate potential objections to your views, and to answer them. And always,
always base your views on the exact words or details of the poem.