In Module 4 we will do a very close reading of two similar poems and compare and contrast the two in a variety of ways. While students express quite candidly that poetry is not their favorite reading materials, in all cases of the poetry used in this class, students have overwhelmingly praised these poems and confessed that if they had to read some poetry, those selected for this class are very enjoyable.
After having read Theodore Roethke’s “My Pappa’s Waltz” and Robert Hayden’s “Those Winter Sundays” we will focus the weekly discussion on aspects of the two poems, both of which students find very straightforward and engaging. Discussing these two poems will not be difficult and in fact is often one of the most productive discussions of the entire course. I have never had a student who could not engage with these poems at some level.
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In Module 4 we explored two very similar poems by Theodore Roethke and Robert Hayden, both dealing with a first-person narrator’s recollections of early experiences with a father. Most students find something to like about these short poems, perhaps because they are short and quite to the point. We discussed aspects of these poems, and most students have something to say about the narrators, these relationships with a father, or even the father’s themselves although our pictures of those men come from the memories of the poems’ narrators. Even poetry haters grudgingly admit that if they had to read some poems, these were “not that bad.”
After last week’s reading of a rather lengthy play, this week’s reading will seem very short. After you have read “My Pappa’s Waltz” and “Those Winter Sundays,” please respond to one or more of the following questions. Please remember that a complete and thoughtful post is necessary to receive maximum points every week, as is a response to a minimum of TWO other student posts during the week.
Potential Discussion Topics:
How are these two poems similar?
Are they different in any important ways? If so, explain your reasons in detail.
Are the two narrators’ memories and recollections the same or different? If so, explain in what ways.
What key words in each poem affect our understanding of what the narrators are trying to communicate?
Discuss these words and how precisely they affect our understanding of the poem?
What happens if we misunderstand these words or how they are used in the poems?
What does the final stanza of “Those Winter Sundays” mean?
Do most readers understand what the narrator is trying to say as he or she closes the poem?
Remember, after you make your post for the week, be certain to respond to at least one other student’s post–more is always better.