“Poetry” By Marianne Moore (1919)
Guidelines for Paper 2—Poetry.
Literature Review Assignment:
Write a 3-4 page paper in which you perform a literature view and a close reading of any one of the
poems we have read for the class. The paper should focus on ONE major theme of the poem (your
choice) AND how the poet inverts or subverts our expectations and beliefs about that theme. Be
careful not to choose something too obvious or repetitive (e.g. don’t write paper about death in
“Because I Could Not Stop for Death,” or about poetry in “Poetry.” – Find more interesting themes!)
Your explanation of the boded statement above will constitute your thesis statement.
A literature review is a summary of what academics and critics have said about a particular topic or
work of literature (NOT, as you may have thought, your evaluation of whether a poem is good or bad).
I will provide you with one scholarly article about a poem, and you will have to find two more on your
own to summarize and engage with in your paper. This means that you will have to carefully read and
annotate these three secondary sources, and write about them coherently in your paper.
Remember: The poem is the primary source because it is the object of study; the scholarly articles are
secondary sources because they interpret the object of study.
The source I give you will be fairly general and will hopefully fit whatever theme you choose. When you
are doing research to find two more secondary sources, pay attention to the themes explored.
After the literature review, you will perform a close reading of the poem. Remember that close reading
means a focused and sustained analysis (that is, breakdown and explanation). Close reading even of
poetry takes as a given the idea that the text being analyzed is a work of fiction and does not take into
account the life of the author.
Close reading usually does not seek to interpret the work of literature in terms of its historical context,
although it does pay close attention to any references to history, the history of ideas, or to other fiction.
Remember that a close reading does not mean a summary. While you can integrate a little bit of
summary of the poem into your paper, you should write for an audience familiar with the text.
Close reading is very much non-personal to you the writer. Close reading mostly seeks to find and
explain the internal structures of a piece of text.