2/11 – Response 1.4

February 7, 2019

Reading Assignment:

Read the Poetry Packet 2. Read each poem multiple times, out loud and silently, and take notes in the margins of all that interests, confuses, or frustrates you.

Writing Assignment:

Write a short response (250 words) to one of the poems. You should remember the Richards and Eagleton reading as you first write about what attracts you to (or repels you from) the poem. What is your poetic experience? Remember to use the language of literary criticism that we have been practicing. You should then move from this discussion of experience into the beginning of an analytical interpretation. Identify an interpretative problem in one of the poems that may serve as a potential question for a thesis to answer. You may ask, for example, what is the meaning of repetition in this poem? Of what use is this mixture between high and low diction? Or some similar question.

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18 Responses to “2/11 – Response 1.4”

  1.   Navneet Kaur said:

    The poem “Since the first toss of gale that blew” by Sylvia Townsend Warner was a very meaningful poem that I think was describing someone’s feelings. This poem right from the beginning I felt expressed a longing that someone had for another. As I took into consideration of Terry Eagleton’s comments in “What is literature” I realized the poem expressed content of desire. I took his strategy of interpreting literature based on one’s thoughts and beliefs and reread Warner’s poem to analyze it using Eagleton’s thoughts. Considering Richards point of view using “Poetic Experience” I used his idea of digging deeper and went below the surface and used “the sound of words in the mind’s ear and feel of the words imaginarily spoken”. This made me analyze the poem in the sense of using all the descriptive words to paint a picture of the scenarios Warner had described. After analyzing the poem thoroughly using Richards and Eagleton’s ideas I realized that Warner wrote according to the theme of nature. I wondered why she spoke revolving and relating the scenarios she expressed through nature. I think maybe she tried to write in a way that everyone could’ve related to and could easily paint a visual to take the understanding one step further. Overall this poems descriptive language and emotion-filled stanzas showed me, love, that one felt for someone else. Their separation was perhaps very hard to deal with and once they reunite it would be like nothing they have ever felt before.

  2.   Alinoor Rahman said:

    The poem, “I being born a Women and Distressed” by Edna St. Vincent Millay, was interesting to me. The title itself really pulled me to read it before the rest of the poems in this packet. It already gives us an insight into her thoughts and feelings before even reading the poem. It is a classic 14-lined sonnet. I felt as though she was trying to make the reader understand her perspective, the perspective of a women during her time. It seems to be what it feels like to be a woman during the 20th century. It is written in first person form as well. However, I am confused onto whether or not whether the narrator of the poem is the author or not. Throughout the lines she expresses a wide variety of emotions which include desire to distress, to confusion and even lust at certain points of the poem. She stresses from the beginning that she was born a female, and for that reason alone, she couldn’t change her gender. That for being a female she is faced with many challenges including discrimination. When the poet says that she is “distressed” she seems to be gathering sympathy for the audience and makes it seem as thought she is a victim in the current society that she lives in. She then follows this in the second line by stating “by all the needs and notions of my kind,” she is clearly referencing all the females in the world including herself. One thing that stood out to me was that from the beginning if the poem to the end, her voice changes a lot. At the end of her poem she is more direct and more argumentative.

  3.   Rose Fattakhov said:

    The poem, “I, Being Born a Woman and Distressed,” by Edna St. Vincent Millay is a sonnet. It begins with the speaker repeating the title of the poem. At this point, all the emotions and thoughts that are consisted in the poem come out. The speaker reveals her emotions when she is confronted by a potential admirer. Through the presence of the man, she is able to feel good. Even if she doesn’t like him, just the way she was made makes her interested in him. The speaker knows from what she has been taught that sex is meant for a man to have a chance to possess a woman. Many people believe that this is how it is supposed to be. All the emotions can disturb a woman’s clear thinking until she cannot think straight anymore. But finally, the speaker discusses how she has the power to walk away from any man who she does not desire. She can even be with a man with not emotional connection and just leave him after. She is not made to be possessed like people think women should be.

    When I was interpreting the poem, at first I had not idea what was being discussed. It took me a few reads before being able to come up with an interpretation. The poem uses a form of high diction, which is difficult to interpret. But, the title is definitely a great draw in. It also hints at the fact that the speaker is unhappy because it is not seen immediately until the end of the poem.

  4.   kyle swedin said:

    The poem I chose to write about was The Eyes of Body by Valentine Ackland. The poem has a slight rhyme pattern that is hard to determine but I think there is some type of pattern. There is some repetition in the poem talking about a deft and delicate hand which I don’t know the deeper meaning behind it but am still intrigued by it at the same time. The third stanza is where it gets interesting because she says, “displays unerring judgement; cleaves between your thighs.” The author could be talking about someone important to them being very gentle with the words she uses and in what context she uses them. The last stanza also has that same feel as if the author is talking about some one they love. One thing that I though Ackland did that was interesting was kind of defining the words she uses and the title of the poem. In the second line she addresses the title and then kind of later says the titles meaning by saying this is referring to this. I have not seen that in most poems so I did think it was interesting to include.

  5.   Ayoub Janah said:

    The poem I decided to write about is written by, Valentine Ackland and it’s called, “The eyes of body.” This poem is intriguing and has left me with many questions just like any other poem has. But Valentine mentioned something interesting that made me think about, what was the purpose of writing this line here. As we discussed before each of our poetic experiences are different depending on how we view on certain events. In order to articulate something the author may change a certain tone or mood, and may add literary devices to get the message through. It will always be a universal theme for readers to learn from poetry. Valentine Ackland has had a rough, potent past as a child she felt as if she was locked from reality and couldn’t let her thoughts be free. She became a lesbian at one point and had a communist standpoint. This leads me to the poem in which she may bring these ideas to the table. The first stanza is confusing, as it states, “The eyes of body, being blindfold by night.” This line made me question, what are eyes on body, and what is the blindfold? Is this targeted on the meaning of body language or is it an expression? It goes on further to say, “Refers to the eyes of mind-at brain’s command Study imagination’s map, then order out a hand.” This may summarize her childhood. How maybe her imagination was blindfolded where she was limited to think on whatever she is capable of imagining because of her experiences with her father.There is also a simile towards the end, as it stays “Clean, as a ray-directed airplane flies.” Which compares the rays of a plane to how the cleaves between the thighs are viewed. I personally have many questions that are unanswered but I believe that is what poetry is.

  6.   Jason Jiang said:

    The poem “Sexual Water” by Pablo Neruda was a very odd poem as the title and the poem make the reader imagine two different things. When I first read the title, I expected the poem to be something about water, but instead it kept mentioning blood with words that give very strong imagery like “crowds of people, palpitations”. As I considered Terry Eagleton’s comments in “What is literature” I noticed the language in the poem doesn’t deviate from the norm too much, but the way the poet phrases the words make the poem more powerful. This is especially noticeable throughout the poem as the author uses a lot of strong imagery to bring out the mood and emotions in the reader. After analyzing the poem more I begin to wonder why the poet adds so much imagery of blood and violence into a title that seems like it doesn’t belong. When look deeper into the poem I start to get an image of war at sea. I got this image as it seems like the poet sees death around him which is the blood along with the fact that they are also dying. Although I still can’t exactly figure out how the word “sexual” relates to the poem.

  7.   Terry Chen said:

    The poem “The eyes of body” by Valentine Ackland was an unique piece in the sense that it was as if the author was trying to define “The eyes of body” like a dictionary. What attracted me to this poem was that I felt a connection with this poem. When I was reading this poem I pictured myself as the “I” within the poem and putting myself in the character’s shoes. Additionally, as I was reading this poem I felt like something clicked and I was able to understand the poem for the most part. This poem was a sonnet with 4 stanzas with neutral diction and one simile. There was no rhyme scheme, however, the last two lines rhymed. These last two lines confused me due to the fact that it was an unusually pattern. Also, the author chose thighs in the third stanza which made me curious about why did the author choose the thighs and if thighs had any significance. The poem talks about visualizing without the use of sight and the first body part that the author mentions about going through was the thighs. Moreover, the line “being blindfold by night” interested and confused me. Initially, I thought that the author replaced darkness with night but then at the same time I thought that it can imply that the character was blind. The diction of the last line was very different and confusing, it was as if the writer changed.

  8.   Shayna Laya Frankel said:

    “Being born Woman and distressed” Edna St. Vincent Millay
    When first faced with the poem I was utterly perplexed as to what it meant. In the face of the confusing stilted sentences, my eye was drawn to the structure of the poem. This Poem is a 16 line construct that embodies the components of a sonnet. It alternates between two formats;
    ABBAABBA and EFEFEFEF. One pattern exhibiting a rhyming scheme: the ends of the lines rhyming in ‘est/ed’ and the other in ‘ine’. The voice of this poem, is that of woman who suffers the patriarchy’s depiction of what a women should be and feel in the early 1920s. The woman describes a situation that she doesn’t subscribe to, with the words “am urged by a propinquity to find a person fair…And feel a certain zest”. These feelings are echoing the notion of the times expectation of what a should encapsulate. ‘I find this frenzy insufficient reason for conversation when we meet again” highlights her disinterest in the partner for a long term relationship she simply is there for the experience. This line continues to expresses the voice of the woman, who is clearly demarcated herself from the perception/expectation of women at the time it was written. “Of my stout blood against my staggering brain” is a line that escapes my understanding. If I choose to focus on this poem for the essay, I would like to further develop this as an idea in tandem with my overall reading of the poem.

  9.   Rawdah Rahim said:

    In the sonnet, “ I, Being born a Woman and Distressed”, Edna St. Vincent Millay writes in a very specific structure that contributes to the message behind the poem.The poem follows a petrarchan sonnet, with a rhyme scheme of ABBAABBA the first eight lines and CDCDCD the last six lines. The title of the poem plays a significant role to itself as it is incorporated and repeated emphasizing the ideas that are being communicated.
    Given the publication date in 1923, it gives the readers a hint that the poem might be addressing the treatment of women and the conservative ideas of sex and love in society at this time. Millay demonstrates the narrators confusion through the use of both high and normal diction She describes life as a “fume” that “cloud the mind”. This gives off a very strong imagery of the thoughts that the speaker might be having about their lover that is polluting their head. There are also words that contrast from each other including, “distressed”, “urged” and “possessed” which diverge from words such as “designed”, “mind”, and “reason”. She also continues on to say “I find this frenzy insufficient reason” (3). The alliteration of the ‘f’ sound in this line stands out because it highlights a specific tone when read alone, emphasizing how direct the speaker is trying to be as she is explaining her emotions and reluctance to see her lover again. The way in which the poem shifts between these two sides of the brain and thoughts from the mind helps to emphasize the internal emotions and thoughts of the speaker. This also helps the reader relate to the concept of head versus heart thinking. While reading this poem, I was able to relate to my personal experiences as a woman. Society has opened much more, accepting women into the face of the media and talking about love is completely normal. But as a Bengali- Muslim woman, I still feel stuck in the 1920’s where love and sex is a forbidden conversation to talk about.
    Millay’s use of diction and following a specific petrarchan sonnet structure allows readers to understand the message of “I, Being born a woman and Distress” to be left to the readers. The author writes to help the audience relate to their own experiences and thought that they might have on women and love to create a unique personalized meaning that might not have a concrete explanation, but one that is universal to any individual.

  10.   Jenson Hu said:

    The poem that I chose to read was “The eyes of body” by Valentine Ackland. This poem starts off by repeating the title of the poem in the first line. It has four stanzas, and there is no rhyming in this poem. I was attracted to this poem because while I was reading the first stanza, the lines made me try to think and create a situation following lines. For example, the lines, “The eyes of body, being blindfolded by night, Refer to the eyes of mind – at brain’s command, Study imagination’s map, then order out a hand, To journey forth as deputy for sight” made me feel as if the narrator is talking about someone who is sleeping and entering a dream. This is similar to Richard’s poetic experience when he says “Next arise various pictures ‘in the mind’s eye’ ; not of words but of things for which the words stand”(page 18). It is similar because rather than simply reading the words for what it states, I tried to picture something by using the lines and trying to apply a scenario for which it may work. A problem I had encountered while reading this poem was the use of the line “Unerring judgement; cleaves between your thighs” and “Clean, as a ray-directed airplane flies.” I didn’t understand how these 2 lines relate with the rest of the poem because I thought the poem was talking about being in a dream and imagining someone on a journey. Yet, I do not see any relation within these 2 lines.

  11.   Natalia Paredes said:

    The poem “Sexual Water” by Pablo Neruda is an elegant piece of literature. This poem consists of six stanzas and has not rhythm, but that does not influence how deep and passionate this poem is. Sex at first glance can be seen as the theme for his poem, but after examining it, it is clear it goes deeper than that. As A. Richards said in “The Poetic Experience” the readers should not only focus on the literal words but in the meaning, those can have. Neruda uses an informal language, and that helped him to connect more with his audience. Imagery plays an important role in this poem, the way how Neruda presents his experiences or ideas is very graphic. For example when he says “ I see a summer stretched out, and a death-rattle growing from a barn wine-cellars, locusts, crowds of people, palpitations, homes, little girls sleeping with hands on their hearts, dreaming of bandits, burnings” (19-24). Here he paints a scene for the reader, a scene that can be seen different depending on where are you standing. Pablo Neruda in this specific poem presents a lot of contrast between the beauty of nature and the visceral world, and in my opinion, he does that in order to show that the world is not just black and white, it is all gray.

  12.   JiaJun Lin said:

    The poem “I, being born a woman and distressed” written by Edna St. Vincent Millay portrayed a woman’s inner thought in a male dominant setting. Poet used formal diction as a means to hidden messages, “think not for this, however, the poor treason, of my stout blood against my staggering brain”, I think that this sentence incorporated her inner thoughts, as a woman in society, she has to obey and listen to other, however, there’s a rebellious thought rooted in her. Use this analytical interpretation as a “needle in a magnetic compass”, I can say that the poet is trying to make aware of the limitations on being a woman. Author Richards mentioned several points in his writings and one example was the desire that points to somewhere, what it means is that, poet Millay thinks being a woman at her time was like entitled to something or to men.

  13.   Veronica Pena said:

    The poem “I, Being born a Woman and Distressed” is a Petrarchan sonnet. The author, Edna St. Vincent Millay, is writing about female sexuality. Since this poem was created in 1923 it is quite brave of her to write about something so controversial. Today talking about female sexuality is still seen as controversial. Millay is directly talking to a past lover, not the reader. The lack of physical description of her lover questions that she could be talking about a woman or a man. In the first half of the poem her tone is playing the stereotypical role of a weak fragile woman. She is helpless against her sexual desire which leaves her as she described “possessed”. I believe this is a jab at our patriarchal society. The author’s lust has her conflicted about whether or not to listen to it. After she makes it clear that despite her lust she has control over her body and has no desire to be with this person again. This poem clearly shows how women, like men also enjoy sexual encounters with others.
    The structure of Millay is important because of the way she uses it to create her tone. In the octave she uses the lines to describe her dilemma and distress. She sounds helpless and distraught. In the sestet she has a handle on her problems. Her tone is authoritative as she now has control of her lust. She is no longer a weak woman.

  14.   Wenhui Ding said:

    After reading through the poem “Valentine Ackland”, I find certain rhyme schemes in different stanzas. They are mainly assonances. Some are consonances. In addition, the rhyme schemes change together with the numbers of enjambments. In the first two stanzas. the number of enjambments is three. The rhyme scheme in the first two stanzas is at the end of the first enjambment has the same assonance with the end-stopped line. In the first stanza, first enjambment and the end-stopped line both utilize the t-sound as assonance. Two middle lines are couplets. E-sound is used as assonance in this couplet. All four lines in the second stanza except the first line all have the same e-sound as their assonance. For the remaining two stanzas, the number of enjambments is two. In the third stanza, all lines have the same s-sound as their assonance. For the last stanza, there is a couplet ending with the same assonance which appeared firstly in the first stanza. In the last line of the poem, there is one consonance using two words–shadow and meadow. At a glance, there are so many rhymes in this particular poem. But the truth is not. The poet designs such a delicate flow with multiple assonances together with other rhyme schemes. It is not a demonstration of fluent usage of different rhymes, but rather use appropriate rhyme to suit the message which the poet wants to deliver to readers. Otherwise, the poem would be written with tremendous rhymes condensed within it. And it would be hard to even read the poem. When I try to read this poem, I could get a sense of flow in it. I have not noticed those designed rhymes until I try to read it several times.

  15.   Matthew Outar said:

    Edna St. Vincent Millay writes a thought-provoking sonnet that seems to justify the typical female experience. Written in 1923, “I, Being born a Woman and Distressed” attempts to provide insight onto a woman’s life during this time period. I believe this poem does a great job at showing the roles and how women were valued in society at this time. It is apparent that during this time period women had unequal status and they were expected to be nothing more than common housewives. As Millay states, “Am urged by your propinquity to find Your person fair, and feel a certain zest To bear your body’s weight upon my breast: So subtly is the fume of life designed, to clarify the pulse and cloud the mind and leave me again undone possessed.” In these lines I believe she begins to try to express how women were seen in society just as possessions by men. For some reason this poem just makes me think of that stereotypical view of women’s place in the home as the caretaker. They were and to some extent still considered to be the primary caretaker at home, for the kids and even for their husband. It begins to paint this picture of this distressed woman who is faced with all of the societal pressures of being a woman during this time period. I think the poem does a great job at showing the discrimination and prejudice women had to and still face to this day.

  16.   Anthony Gringas said:

    The poem, “The eyes of body” by Valentine Ackland. The initial attraction towards the poem is definitely the appeal to the senses. The passage talked about how the poetic experience starts with a sensual representation such as how they look, or sound, or the picture when put together. This poem directly starts off with the senses and it allows for the reader to easily flow into the poetic experience. The poem itself consists of four stanzas, with the first two containing four lines, and the last two containing three each. There is a presence of a rhyme scheme present throughout the poem. It goes as follows: A,B,B,A,C,D,D, C,C,E,E,C,A,A. It is almost as if blind with a purpose or search or pre-known direction. I think it is referring to the idea that although one may not necessarily be able to see that well, one can still have enough of a figurative map of one’s body to the point where an actual sight may not necessarily be needed to navigate the course of ones body. There is a repetition of the line, “hand being deft and delicate.” This accentuates a feel or the softness of the act of the poem in total. The poem goes into the fact that it transfers from a figurative map for sight, or pre-conceived idea of what a body should look or be like, to a more up close and personal experience in person. From what I took from the understanding is that its all leading up to…

  17.   jennifer gavilanes said:

    The poem i chose to read and analyze was “I, being born a woman and distressed” by Edna St. Vincent Millay. This poem gave a imagine of a woman’s thoughts about a male. Edna used much diction behind many of her stanzas. One of the stanzas in the poem, “of my stout blood against my staggering brain”, what i understood from this is she describes her blood as stout which can mean thick so her blood is thick as she goes through any obstacle in her way in perhaps society. In Richards essay i took from it to deeper analyze the poem by the sense of deeply hearing the poem in your head. This poem has two senses that i got from it. One being the “love or season” as she states as a literal season but then she changes this in the next stanza making it appear to be some other seasoning associated not with the weather.

  18.   Fariha Islam said:

    The poem I chose to write about is,” I, being born a woman and distressed” by Edna St, Vincent Millay. It’s a Petrarchan sonnet. This poem explores the feelings of a woman regarding a lover, breaking many societal expectations surrounding the role of women at the time. This poem was published during the time when sex, sexuality and the treatment of women by men and society were still approached in a very conservative manner in comparison to today. In my opinion maybe Millay was openly bisexual, which gives an extra element of understanding to the poem considering that it does not make it clear if it is a man or a woman being talked about. The metaphorical clouding of the mind is a key feature of ‘I, being born a woman’, with repeated references to the brain, thought and emotion, used to help communicate the key meaning of the poem. Millay also uses the interesting technique of combining emotive words with ‘scientific’ words throughout the poem. For instance, of emotive words include “distressed”, “urged” and “possessed” which contrast words such as “designed”, “mind”, and “reason”. This contrast between the two types of words is not only present on individual lines, but also shown throughout the poem as it transitions from “distressed” on the first line, to “reason” and “conversation” on the last lines, reflecting the poem’s Petrarchan structure. The alliteration of the ‘f’ sound in this line is interesting because it helps to draw attention to it when read aloud, emphasizing how direct the narrator is being while describing her emotions, and unwillingness to see her lover again. I personally think that Millay did a great job writing this poem for specifically considering the female perspective, and the power of female sexuality in relation to love.

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