First Assignment

Choose one of the two following poems. Perform a (basic) metrical scansion of the entire poem: mark both stressed and unstressed syllables clearly and divide the lines into feet. Write a short essay (at least two full pages and no more than four full pages) about your scansion. You will want to identify the basic metrical foot and briefly discuss departures from the basic pattern. Discuss the degree of importance of the metrical variations (such as trochaic substitutions). Identify promoted and demoted syllables. Identify caesuras and make some attempt at characterizing the relative strengths of the caesuras.

Identify areas where the scansion is not straightforward, and discuss what factors led you to decide upon your scansion. Identify problematic areas, places where the scansion could easily be done differently, and discuss these areas.

Your goal is to present an exhaustive discussion of the metre of the poem. You will probably stay away from discussing the content of the poem: a few comments that link metre to content might be permissible, but keep them at a minimum. Your essay does not need an introduction, conclusion, thesis statement, or list of works cited (unless you do happen to use other sources to help you with the essay). The essay must be well-written and well-organized. Include the complete scansion of your poem (with clear markings) as the final page of your essay (not included in the page count).

The assignment is due in class on February 1st.


How soon hath Time the suttle theef of youth,
Stoln on his wing my three and twentieth yeer!
My hasting dayes flie on with full career,
But my late spring no bud or blossom shew’th.
Perhaps my semblance might deceive the truth,
That I to manhood am arriv’d so near,
And inward ripeness doth much less appear,
That som more timely-happy spirits indu’th.
Yet be it less or more, or soon or slow,
It shall be still in strictest measure eev’n,
To that same lot, however mean, or high,
Toward which Time leads me, and the will of Heav’n;
All is, if I have grace to use it so,
As ever in my great task Masters eye.


At the round earths imagin’d corners, blow
Your trumpets, Angells, and arise, arise
From death, you numberlesse infinities
Of soules, and to your scattred bodies goe,
All whom the flood did, and fire shall o’erthrow,
All whom warre, death, age, agues, tyrannies,
Despaire, law, chance, hath slaine, and you whose eyes,
Shall behold God, and never tast deaths woe,
But let them sleepe, Lord, and mee mourne a space,
For, if above all these, my sinnes abound,
’Tis late to aske abundance of thy grace,
When wee are there; here on this lowly ground,
Teach mee how to repent; for that’s as good
As if thou hadst seal’d my pardon, with thy blood.