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Poetry Essay Option #2 Prewriting Activity


(This page has been updated for 2006-07)


Read pages 321-323 in the literature book.

This activity is adapted from the one in the literature book. Copy and paste this page into Word and email as an attachment to hand in. Or you may print it out and fill it out that way. Attach a printed copy of the poem you have chosen for this essay option.


Content: What does the poem mean?

a. What experiences does the poem remind you of or make you think about?









b. Does anything in the poem make you feel surprise? Irritation? Delight? Suspense? Sadness? Awe? (or any other emotion?) Explain how the poem makes you feel this way.









c. What is this poem about? Is this something you have thought about before? In what way?









d. What is the poem’s message or main idea? What does this poet want us to know about life? Is the message one you’ll remember or reject?









e. Is this poet's message important for others to know? In what way?








Construction/Structure as it shapes, affects, or determines meaning.

a. Does the poem use rhyme and meter? Or is it written in free verse? What is the rhyme scheme if there is one? What effect does the rhyme have on the meaning of the poem?








b. What other sound effects does the poet use, and are they used for a purpose? (Repetition, alliteration, onomatopoeia?) What effect do these sound effects have on the meaning of the poem?









c. What images are evident in the poem and which senses do they evoke? How do the images make you feel or how do they connect you to the main idea of the poem?








d. Is the title of the poem important? Explain how.









e. If you were to write a letter to the poet saying how the poem affected you, what lines or phrases would you mention?








What else? What else do you want to reveal about your understanding of this poem that you could not do in the space above?








Planning your essay:


  1. Paragraph one: This is your introduction. Briefly tell what the subject of the poem is. State your initial response to the poem. Include the poet’s name and the title of the poem in the first paragraph.
  2. Paragraph two: Explain at least three ways in which your response to the poem is related to the poem’s content (see your table).
  3. Paragraph three: Explain what this poem means and how/where it means it. How is the message important to you and/or to others.
  4. Paragraph four: Conclude your essay by restating the main idea, the main reason you like it and why the idea is important for you or for everyone.
  5. Read the sample essay again to see how your essay might look and sound.
  6. Go over the checklist for revision and see how your essay measures up.
  7. Go back to the web directions for your essay to continue.