Sunday, November 15, 2009

Academic Writing: Summarizing and Paraphrasing Poems (Group Exercise)

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Time permitting (on 11/16), we will do this as a group exercise (during second half of class). No need to print this page out; I will give each of you a copy of your group poem.

Because many of you will be engaging in literary analyses and translations, I thought it might be a good idea to start your summarizing and paraphrasing unit with some short poems to summarize and paraphrase. Later on (probably for the 11/23 class), I will include some short literary passages.

Finally, just before your semester exam, we will work on some topical passages.

I will soon post Assignment #4, probably after Monday's class.

The Poems:
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Group 1:

“Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening,” by Robert Frost

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
1. In one sentence, summarize the poem.

2. Write a line-by-line paraphrase (to help you understand the poem better).

3. Write a prose paraphrase.
_____________________________________________________________

Group 2:

“Fire and Ice” by Robert Frost

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favour fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
1. In one sentence, summarize the poem.

2. Write a line-by-line paraphrase (to help you understand the poem better).

3. Write a prose paraphrase.
_____________________________________________________________

Group 3:

“Yesterday is History,” by Emily Dickinson

Yesterday is History,
'Tis so far away
Yesterday is Poetry
'Tis Philosophy

Yesterday is mystery
Where it is Today
While we shrewdly speculate
Flutter both away
1. In one sentence, summarize the poem.

2. Write a line-by-line paraphrase (to help you understand the poem better. For this poem, this may be a bit difficult, but give it your best effort).

3. Write a prose paraphrase.
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Group 4:

“Gypsy,” by Carl Sandburg

I asked a gypsy pal
To imitate an old image
And speak old wisdom.
She drew in her chin,
Made her neck and head
The top piece of a Nile obelisk
and said:
Snatch off the gag from thy mouth, child,
And be free to keep silence.
Tell no man anything for no man listens,
Yet hold thy lips ready to speak.
1. In one sentence, summarize the poem.

2. Write a line-by-line paraphrase.

3. Write a prose paraphrase.
_____________________________________________________________

Group 5:

“A Poem,” by Walter de la Mare

Here lies a most beautiful lady,
Light of step and heart was she:
I think she was the most beautiful lady
That ever was in the West Country.
But beauty vanishes; beauty passes;
However rare, rare it be;
And when I crumble who shall remember
This lady of the West Country?
1. In one sentence, summarize the poem.

2. Write a line-by-line paraphrase (to help you understand the poem better).

3. Write a prose paraphrase.
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