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ENG1DB Poetry Analysis Unit: Discussing Student Responses to LYRIC Poetry
Teacher Feedback and Suggestions for Short Answer Formatting and Content
The following is a compilation of your group answers for your poetry
analysis of William Shakespeare’s lyric poem, “Sonnet 18”, and Emily
Dickenson’s lyric poem, “I Felt a Funeral in my Brain” with my constructive
feedback and general points for our class discussion. THESE SAMPLE
RESPONSES CONTAIN ERRORS THAT MUST BE CORRECTED! Everyone should
use this feedback to help you improve the structure of your short answers,
as well as the depth of your poetry analysis.

William Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 18”
1. Identify and explain the tone of this poem. Include a direct quotation from
the poem to support your observations.
“Sonnet 18”, by William Shakespeare, has a loving and admiring tone. This can
be inferred because Shakespeare compares his love’s beauty to a summer’s
day, and admits that she is better. For instance, the text states, “But thy eternal
summer shall not fade/Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st” (Shakespeare
2, 9-10). In other words, the speaker says how his love will never lose her youth
and how she will never lose her beauty, even if death comes. Thus, giving the
poem a tone of admiration, as the speaker is admiring his lover.
-
An accurate tone is identified
A great use of transition phrases to add to the fluency of the response
1
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Change “even if death comes” to “even when death comes” as death is
inevitable
Add more detail to the analysis portion of the response – why will the
object of the speaker’s affection not lose her youth/beauty even in the
face of death?
Evidently, the prevailing tone of the speaker in Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 18” is
eternal admiration. For example, in stanzas 1 and 2 the speaker states, “Shall I
compare thee to a summer’s day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate:”
(1-2 Shakespeare). Right from the very first stanza of the sonnet the speaker
effectively sets an admiring tone by stating that his lover’s beauty is greater than
a summer’s day. This metaphor clearly demonstrates the speaker’s admiration
for his lover, thus setting the tone of the sonnet.
-
An accurate tone is identified
Revise your citation formatting (Author’s Last Name Line Number)
An effective point, proof, analysis format
Adequate reflection is provided; more detail is suggested
2. Identify and explain the theme of this poem. Include a direct quotation
from the poem to support your observations.
The theme communicated in “Sonnet 18” is that the eternal nature of love will
not fade. In “Sonnet 18”, Shakespeare clearly communicates this theme when
he says, “But thy eternal lines to time thou grow’st,” (Shakespeare 12). In this line
Shakespeare archives his love for her in the poem. In other words, his love for her
will forever be savored in this poem. Even if his beloved dies, she will eternally be
preserved in this poem. In conclusion, by writing about his beloved he makes his
love eternal because his words will forever be on the page.
-
A good communication of an appropriate theme
Do not refer to the author (Shakespeare); instead, refer to the speaker
Rethink your diction (i.e. “archives his love”, “forever savored”)
3. Identify and explain the purpose and effect of two literary or poetic
devices (examples of figurative language) used in this poem. Include two
direct quotations from the poem to support your observations.
William Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 18” uses many literary devices. One example of
a literary device is a metaphor. The first line of “Sonnet 18” says, “Shall I compare
thee to a summer’s day?” (Shakesphere,1,1). The speaker is comparing their
lover to a summer day, as a summer day is nice and lovely. This shows that the
2
passion that the speaker has for their lover is very strong. Another example of a
literary device is personification. This is present when the speaker says, “Nor shall
Death brag thou wander’st in his shade” (Shakesphere,1,10). In other words,
Death is not real and does not try to cast a shadow upon people. Thus, death is
personified to cast a shadow on others, which is a human characteristic. In
conclusion, literary devices are used by the speaker to show how he adores and
admires his love.
-
Incorrect spelling of Shakespeare (it is NOT Shakesphere)!
Revise your citation formatting (no comma between the author’s last
name and the line number, and do not repeat the line number if the
quotation comes from the same line)
Deepen analysis and critical observations
A correct identification of your chosen literary devices
Improve your interpretation of the example of personification provided
Emily Dickenson’s “I Felt a Funeral in my Brain”
1. Identify and explain the tone of this poem. Include a direct quotation from
the poem to support your observations.
The tone of “I Felt a Funeral in my Brain” is one of grief. The author in this poem
presents the text in such a way that readers feel sorry for the mentally-unstable
character. “I dropped down, and down – And hit a world at every plunge (line
18, 19). From this quotation, we get from the text that the character is helpless,
solitary and is mentally insane. As they drop down and down; deeper and
deeper into an endless pit of doom, us readers by stand by their mental
breakdown. As a result, we feel sorry for the character, and yearn to come into
the story and bring this person to aid; as they hit a world at every plunge, and
are not able to control themselves in any of them.
-
“…in this poem” should be changed to “…of this poem”
Pity is not relevant to tone here (“feel sorry for the mentally-unstable
character”); it is a result of the tone, so mention this
Lead into your quotations – i.e. This is proven in the poem when the
speaker says, “I dropped…”
Revise your citation formatting (Author’s Last Name Line Number)
Instead of saying “we” or “us”, say “readers”
“by stand by their mental breakdown” is worded very awkwardly
Irrelevant point: “yearn to come into the story and bring this person to aid”
3
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The tone of grief is not analyzed; you analyze sympathy instead
Put all quoted information in quotation marks
The tone of the poem, “I Felt a Funeral in my Brain”, by Emily Dickenson, is
undeniably ominous. This is proven in the following quotation: “Race wrecked,
solitary, here - /And then a Plank in Reason, broke, /And dropped down, and
down –“ (Dickenson 16-18). In this quotation, the “Plank in Reason” symbolizes
the speaker’s mental stability, and when it breaks, it shatters the illusion of
‘normal’ for the reader, and now steers towards strange and frightening
because the abnormal scares us. In addition, the dropping of the speaker
alludes to falling into darkness, leaving the reader uneasy for fear of the
unknown.
-
An adequate tone is identified
Cite all quotations, even if you have already cited it in your response
Do not use collective personal pronouns like “us”
The analysis provided is insightful – the “unknown” mentioned is what
happens after the mental illness takes over, and logical thought is gone
2. Identify and explain the theme of this poem. Include a direct quotation
from the poem to support your observations.
The poem “I Felt a Funeral in my Brian”, by Emily Dickenson, does not fail to
express the following theme, which is that consciousness is not always clouded
by insanity. This is effectively displayed when the narrator proclaims, “I felt a
Funeral, in my Brain” (Dickenson 1). This quotation expresses the narrator’s
awareness of their own crumbling mind as he/she continues to depict the death
or disappearance of their own sanity. This supports the central theme because it
shows the readers that sometimes people are fully aware of their own mental
illness, and even then, there is not much of a solution.
-
The theme is identified as “consciousness is not always clouded by
insanity”, but consider how Dickenson concludes the poem – does this
change the suggested theme?
“does not fail to express the following theme” is an overly wordy way to
introduce the theme – say the poem expresses the theme of…
Choose a more effective proof to support your chosen theme
The analysis provided is thoughtful
4
3. Identify and explain the purpose and effect of two literary or poetic
devices (examples of figurative language) used in this poem. Include two
direct quotations from the poem to support your observations.
There are many literary devices used in the poem, “I Felt a Funeral in my Brain,”
by Emily Dickinson. The first literary device used is a simile, which the speaker say,
“A service, like a/Drum-Kept beating-beating-till I thought” (Dickinson 6, 7). In this
quotation, the speaker compares a funeral service to a drum beating. This
means that her service represents her last moments of sanity, and the beating
drums remind her that she is slowly going insane. The second literary device used
in the poem is a hyperbole, when the speaker says, “With the same boots of
lead again.”
-
Point, proof, analysis is not complete
Incomplete response
Spell the author’s name correctly
Improve the clarity of your transition into your proof (grammar error)
Improve the explanation of the simile provided
An accurate identification of the speaker’s decent into madness
Cite all quotations using proper MLA format
Hyperbole example is inaccurate
Hyperbole: “I felt a funeral in my brain”
This key literary device displays obvious exaggeration because he emphasizes
his brain by saying he is having a funeral, which means it’s in pain.
Symbolism: “I felt a funeral in my brain”
This is an important literary device. It shows deeper meaning. He/she doesn’t
mean a funeral in his brain, but is saying that he can’t mentally take any more of
what he’s going through. His brain is dead and is now mentally unstable.
-
Follow a correct point, proof, analysis structure for all responses
Do not write in point form; Vague analysis and unclear explanation
Write in complete sentences
The identification of “I felt a funeral in my brain” as a hyperbole and as an
example of symbolism is incorrect. It is a METAPHOR!
A funeral does not mean that something is just in pain. Rather, it means
that something is dead. Rethink your observations.
Do not use contractions in formal writing
5
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