Literary analysis – poetry | ENGL 101

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You will write a literary analysis paper on the poems presented in the last page (click here to see the poems). In your essay, you will present both comparisons (similarities) and differences (contrasts) of the authors’ development of the themes of life and death. Be sure to analyze tone, metaphor, simile, diction, style, and most importantly, the core meaning of the selections.

Criteria for This Assignment

Length and Formatting Requirements

  • One to three pages (750 to 1200 words), double spaced
  • Times New Roman, 12-point font

Content Requirements

  • Develop your topic and argument logically and cohesively.
  • Your thesis should drive the content of your essay.
  • State specific examples of the literary techniques in your essay (for example, don’t just say the author uses a rhyme pattern to convey his message; be specific about how and why.)

 

“Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night”

Do not go gentle into that good night,

Old age should burn and rage at close of day;

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,

Because their words had forked no lightning they

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright

Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,

Rage, rage against the dying of the light

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,

And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see the blinding sight

Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,

Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

By Dylan Thomas (1914 – 1953)

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“Psalm of Life”

Tell me not, in mournful numbers,

Life is but an empty dream! –

For the soul is dead that slumbers,

And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest!

And the grave is not its goal;

Dust thou art, to dust returnest,

Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,

Is our destined end or way;

But to act, that each to-morrow

Find us farther than to-day.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,

And our hearts, though stout and brave,

Still, like muffled drums, are beating

Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world’s broad field of battle,

In the bivouac of Life,

Be not like dumb, driven cattle!

Be a hero in the strife!

Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant!

Let the dead Past bury its dead!

Act,–act in the living Present!

Heart within, and God o’erhead!

Lives of great men all remind us

We can make our lives sublime,

And, departing, leave behind us

Footprints on the sands of time;

Footprints, that perhaps another,

Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,

A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,

Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us, then, be up and doing,

With a heart for any fate;

Still achieving, still pursuing, 

Learn to labor and to wait.

By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807 – 1882)

Assignment

In the following assignment, you will write a literary analysis of the poems above.