Ready for some poetry practice?

Discussion in 'Single Subject Tests' started by TeacherGroupie, Mar 21, 2015.

  1. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Mar 21, 2015

    Here's a poem by William Cowper (1731-1800):

    "Sonnet to William Wilberforce, Esq."

    Thy country, Wilberforce, with just disdain,
    Hears thee, by cruel men and impious, called
    Fanatic, for thy zeal to loose th'enthralled
    From exile, public sale, and slavery's chain.
    Friend of the poor, the wrong'd, the fetter-galled,
    Fear not lest labour such as thine be vain!
    Thou hast achiev'd a part; hast gained the ear
    Of Britain's senate to thy glorious cause;
    Hope smiles, joy springs, and tho' cold caution pause
    And weave delay, the better hour is near,
    That shall remunerate thy toils severe
    By peace for Afric, fenc'd with British laws.
    Enjoy what thou hast won, esteem and love
    From all the just on earth, and all the blest above!​

    What is the form of this poem?

    What is the theme of the poem?

    What else strikes you about it?
     
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  3. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Mar 21, 2015

    This was supposed to be for a test taker or two... let's hope your response emboldens them.
     
  4. anna9868

    anna9868 Habitué

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    Mar 28, 2015

    What an interesting section! I never looked in it before!

    I just had to teach a lesson on poetry the other day in school. 4th grade, Suplementary sub, which means there was not even time to look over anything, so I had to use my intuitive knowledge about poetry, which, quite frankly, I didn't know exist, since I know very little about poetry and up until recently thought that I don't like it. :)

    I cannot comment at all on that poem, I don't read poems in such archaic language. But if we discussed something more modern language, I would love to join/learn


     
  5. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Mar 28, 2015

    For those studying for their ELA certifications, this is far from archaic but absolutely necessary.
     
  6. anna9868

    anna9868 Habitué

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    Mar 28, 2015

    oh, I don't doubt that! I was just wondering how come no one answered, and suggested that maybe with easier-to-read poems people would be more willing to participate
     
  7. justwanttoteach

    justwanttoteach Cohort

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    Mar 29, 2015

     
  8. LisaLisa

    LisaLisa Companion

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    Mar 29, 2015

    The poem is about a movement to end the British slave trade. I had to read it a couple of times as the message of good and bad is woven together - there is criticism of the status quo and very clear praise for the progressive mind that wants to end slavery.

    The change did not come, slavery was not abolished. The poem talks about the consequential potential and future changes that will come from those efforts, "the better hour is near".

    The poem's theme is optimism in the wake of defeat.

    Terrific poem.
     
  9. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Mar 29, 2015

    As to the theme, hope/optimism, yes. Not so sure the poem supports "in the wake of defeat" per se, however. (An analysis that isn't standard is fine - insofar as one can back it up with evidence quoted from the literary work, and that's absent here.)

    For most of literary history, a sonnet has consisted of 14 lines, iambic pentameter (though the Spenserian sonnet can legally end with two lines of iambic hexameter, and the poem in hand here splits the difference). Rhyme schemes vary (so a Shakespearean sonnet has a different rhyme scheme than does a Petrarchan sonnet); if a poem's rhyme scheme doesn't have a name, it's always appropriate in a teacher test to give it as a series of letters (and unnecessary to say how one knows, fortunately).

    What's the evidence for a shift in tone after line 6?
     

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