01:790:340 Quiz: 201reading_assignment10Exam
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359:201 Principles of Literary Study: Poetry 10/14/19
due in class Thursday 10/17
Assigned Reading: Samuel Taylor Coleridge, “Frost at Midnight” (pp. 15–17 in the course
reader), Philip Larkin, “Aubade” (handout)
Two things are due on Thursday:
1. an observation about some aspect of form in the two poems assigned for today (focusing on
one, or comparing the two; you should base your analysis in meter, but meter always relates to
other formal aspects of poetry—like the relation between grammar and linebreaks, or patterns of
repetition in stanzas, for instance). Take a few sentences to explain your formal observation and
to relate it to some aspect of the poems’ meaning. (If you’re stuck, consider the question: why
might the poet have chosen to write it this way, rather than making some other formal choice?)
2. for midterm review: (a) a term we’ve brought into our toolkit for poetic analysis, (b) a
definition of that term, (c) an example of it from a poem we’ve read, and (d) (optional) any
questions about analytical terms that have come up so far.
Reading Guide for Coleridge and Larkin:
Again, we’re reading two poems with time as a central theme. (Also love? a question to ponder.)
How does the theme of time in these poems resemble or differ from “To His Coy Mistress” and
“Frost at Midnight” was published in 1798; “Aubade” in 1977.
This version of “Aubade” is missing line numbers. Please write them in!
This means that Coleridge’s poem is contemporary with Mary Robinson’s “London’s Summer
Morning” (1800). These might not seem, on the surface, like poems that have much in common.
Remember, though, how we discussed the relative novelty of describing a scene of ordinary
urban life in verse. Jonathan Swift, writing about 90 years earlier, would have expected his
reader to think his “description of the morning” was ironic, even a little ridiculous. Here: not city
life but rather domestic life—and, even more intimately, private, emotional experience—that
Coleridge is describing.
This poem isn’t usually classified as a description, though. Instead, critics classify it using a term
Coleridge himself invented: the conversation poem. You should read it like a monologue, but
note: the speaker is talking to somebody (who?).
“that film, which fluttered on the grate” is a way of describing the movement of pieces of soot in
the fireplace (line 15). The speaker refers back to this image at line 27, when he speaks of
watching “that fluttering stranger!” There was a folk belief that fire stirring in this way predicted
the arrival of an unexpected guest, so the fluttering soot was itself called a stranger. (See OED
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