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Poetry Essay Exam Prompt
Choose ONE of the options below and discuss how it is explored in all 3 poems, “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” by Langston Hughes, “Because I Could not Stop for Death” by Emily Dickinson, and from “Song of Myself,” sections 1 and 6 by Walt Whitman. Be sure to put Option A , B or C at the top of your essay, so your professor will know which prompt you have chosen to write about.
Choose ONE of the following themes to write your essay on:
A) the relationship between the past and the present in all 3 poems
B) the relationship between humans and nature in all 3 poems
C) the journey taken by the speakers of all 3 poems.
In your essay, make sure to:
1. Refer to at least two poetic elements from the list below and discuss how Hughes, Dickinson and Whitman use them in their respective poems. What point(s) do the elements you chose to discuss make?
2. Discuss and analyze each poem in terms of content and form
3. Show how the option you chose below sheds light on the meaning of all 3 poems.
4. When quoting from a poem, put one forward slash to indicate where the line ends in the poem /, and two forward slashes to indicate when a stanza ends // in the poem. Put a space on both sides of the single slash.
5. Citation! Cite the author’s last name in parenthesis every time you quote from a poem!
Remember you are being asked to discuss the poems in terms of ONE of the above options!
Write your essay directly in the Write Submission box, do not attach it as a Word document. This essay is a 75 minute essay, the length of one class, but I am providing 90 minutes here –the extra 15 minutes to digest the instructions and collect your thoughts and review when finished.
Some Common Elements of Poetry
metaphors, direct and implied
similes, direct and implied
line or stanza structure (verse or free verse)
Assonance (the repetition of the sound of a vowel to produce an effect)
Alliteration (the occurrence of the same letter or sound at the beginning of a line)
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