Choose one of the poets that we’re spending substantial time with this semester (Longfellow, Poe, Emerson,
Whitman, Dunbar, Lanier, Dickinson, Melville, Crane or E. A. Robinson) and examine how that poet’s work
illustrates a theme associated with his or her poetry.
For example, if you choose Poe you may want to examine the recurring theme of grief and remembrance.
Emerson’s major theme is the human soul and how it relates to nature. Whitman often dwells on political and
sexual union; Dickinson deals with death, with faith, with sexuality. Dunbar treats of African-American life at
the end of the nineteenth century, Melville and Crane write of war, and Robinson examines the life of the
individual amid societal pressures.
In your paper, use at least five of your chosen author’s poems. (Of these, three must be poems we have not
treated in class discussions.) Give each poem a close reading, showing how the poet’s approach (style, voice,
poetic philosophy) accentuates the treatment of his or her theme.
This is not a research paper, but if you quote anyone use the MLA style of citation. Probably you’ll want to
examine some of the critical commentary on your poet. (I recommend it.)
Show me a first draft by Tuesday, December 3rd . The paper doesn’t have to be completed then, but I’d like to
see at least three or four typewritten pages at that time. I will read and comment and hand your draft back to