Grade: Senior
Subject: Literature

#3460. Poetry as a Means of Redemption and Reflection

Literature, level: Senior
Posted Fri Apr 29 11:27:03 PDT 2005 by Amanda Richards (
Randolph-Macon Woman's College, Lynchburg, USA
Materials Required: copies of poems, paper, pen, dry erase board/chalkboard
Activity Time: about 50 minutes
Concepts Taught: poetry analysis

Subject: English

Grade: 11


The student will have the opportunity to practice close-reading for the upcoming SAT and SOL tests.
The student will meet the following mandated VA SOL requirements:
11.1 a, b, c & d

11.3 b, c & d

11.5 a & b


The students will feel comfortable expressing their ideas in an open forum.
The students will develop higher-level questions and conclusions as we read the poem line-by-line.
The students will develop an appreciation for the changing voice that remains connected with the Modernist thread of isolation and loneliness.


TSWBAT present and defend at least one idea in the class discussion.
TSWBAT refer to the poem to organize evidence for his argument.
TSWBAT use grammatically correct language, including vocabulary appropriate for poetry discussion.


Hand-out including:
a. Louise Gluck's "Earthly Love"

b. Yusef Komunyakaa's "My Father's Love Letters"

paper & pen
whiteboard and dry-erase markers

Ability Level: Generally equal abilities; some "talkers," some quiet students


The students will have read the two poems for homework. Begin class by asking the students to identify any common elements. A student volunteer will write these ideas on the whiteboard. Explain that the class will come back to these ideas later.
Ask for a showing of hands which poem was the favorite. Begin discussing the poem the class chooses first.
Divide the poem into sections or by stanzas and ask for volunteers to read. (Gluck should have 4 readers; Komunyakaa should have 3). Have the students read the poem aloud.
Read the poem aloud after the students finish their reading, using correct emphasis and pace according to line breaks and punctuation. Emphasize important points with voice inflection.
Review the poem line-by-line (or sentence-by-sentence). Ask leading questions, such as "What does it mean that 'conventions of the time held them together'?" or "What does it mean that the speaker imagined the mother holding his father's letters over the gas burner?"
Once the line-by-line discussion in complete, ask the following questions:
Who is speaking?
Who is "them"? Who is "we"?
Think about the line endings. Which are strong? Weak?
Look up and define any unfamiliar words.
What is this poem about?
a. Who is speaking?

b. What is the speaker doing for his father? Why?

c. Does the speaker respect his father?

d. How does the speak feel about his mother?

e. Think about the definition of intelligence

f. What is this poem about?

Once the students answer these questions in the teacher-guided discussion, allow them to ask questions.
Repeat steps 3-7 with the second poem.
To end class, go back to the ideas on the whiteboard. Ask a student volunteer to mark through and add ideas as the class discusses further. Make sure the theme of isolation is emphasized.
Pass out the poem for tomorrow's lesson: Marie Howe's "The Boy"

Time Required: 50 minutes

Homework: Read Marie Howe's "The Boy"