“Proverbs of Hell”

 Choose one poem we’ve read and think about it in multiple directions. Your argument should unfold over three paragraphs. In the first paragraph, offer a reading of the poem—an argument the poem seems to suggest. Make sure your reading is based on careful attention to the poem’s language; you should be quoting a lot. In the second paragraph, explore a competing interpretation. Think about how the poem works against the first reading you’ve offered—how it actually seems to present a different and even contradictory argument. Again, your argument should emerge from good close reading. Your third paragraph should make some sense of these two competing readings. You don’t have to reach a tidy resolution, but you should offer some thoughts—exciting ones, ones that make your reader feel like we’re caught up in the momentum of discovery—about what it means that these two seemingly contradictory arguments coexist in the same poem. This is the sort of thinking we did most explicitly when we read some of the poems from Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience, but you can pull the same sort of moves with other poets’ works, too. Choose one of the following poems to write about using the instructions above: “Proverbs of Hell” from The Marriage of Heaven and Hell “The Lamb” from Songs of Innocence “Nurse’s Song” from Songs of Innocence “The Divine Image” from Songs of Innocence “The Tyger” from Songs of Experience “Nurse’s Song” from Songs of Experience “The Human Abstract” from Songs of Experience Wordsworth: Preface to the Lyrical Ballads “Expostulation and Reply” “The Tables Turned” “A slumber did my spirit seal” “My Heart Leaps Up” “Tintern Abbey” Smith: “Some Notes on Attunement” Coleridge: “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” “Kubla Khan” “Frost at Midnight” Byron: Excerpts from Manfred Shelley: “Hymn to Intellectual Beauty” “Ode to the West Wind” A Defense of Poetry Keats: “Ode on a Grecian Urn” “To Autumn”

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