ENG201Y (“Reading poetry”): the 250-word directed responses




·         5% of your mark will reflect your best two 250-word “directed responses” submitted during first term.

·         You will write your response about one upcoming poem. For instance, on Tuesday October 8th, you may write about Wyatt’s “They flee from me”.

·         You may hand in as many responses as you like; the last day is Tuesday, December 3rd at noon.


General instructions


·         In general, this assignment will require you to link your analysis of a very particular aspect of one poem to your interpretation of the whole poem.

·         The “direction” will usually involve applying part of the Adams or Fussell reading for the current unit to one of the poems.

·         It is usually a good idea to pick something to think and write about that intrigues or puzzles you, that makes you make your interpretation of the poem more complex and satisfying.

·         Make every word count! You can make a case for writing up to 500 words.




·         Do not put your name on the paper; student number only.

·         Impress me with a specific, engaging title. And/or pretend that you’re the author of the “Poetry” column in the Globe and Mail.

·         My WebCT tutor warned me that the “Assignment drop box” often confuses students. I don’t want to confuse you, so we will use other methods.

·         I would prefer it if you dropped off a printed copy of your assignment, either to my office (Wetmore Hall 125 of New College) or to the Wetmore Hall porter (north building, just south of the Athletic Centre).

·         However, I know that some of you come onto campus only once a week, for this course, and I don’t want to inconvenience you.

·         If you are in this cohort, you may email me your assignment in the body of an email message – no attachments. The department does not ordinarily permit this, and I will not accept e-submission of any other assignments.

·         The response is due by noon on the Tuesday before we take up the poem in class.

·         So, responses to “The soote” season will be handed in on October 8th.

·         Responses to “Ye goatherd gods” will be handed in on October 15th.

·         Etcetera.


Directed responses for week 5 (October 9th), 6 (October 16th) and 7 (October 23rd)


·         Reread both chapter 3 of Adams, Poetic designs and chapters 7 through 9 of Paul Fussell’s Poetic Meter & Poetic Form, rev. ed. (New York: Random House, 1979), short-term loan PE 1505 F78. (Fussell is much better than Adams for this topic/assignment.)

·         Pick one poem for the upcoming week that you are particularly engaged by.

·         Consider how some aspect(s) of the poem’s form (rhyme? organization of content into/within stanzas? the choice of the form, perhaps?) support your interpretation of the poem.

·         Don’t get stressed out about the fact that we haven’t “done” it yet: support your ideas with evidence from the poem that you have selected and thought about carefully.

·         Weeks 8 and 9 will get you to consider “figures of speech”, Adams chapter 4.