Modernism: Frost / Stevens / Williams / Pound / Moore / Eliot

Frost – Reading and Review Questions:

  1. Compare and contrast the speakers in “Mending Wall” and “Home Burial.” How does each of these men understand the world around them?
  2. The two figures in “Mending Wall” rebuild the wall in silence. What does their silence tell us about their relationship?
  3. At the end of “Home Burial,” Amy appears ready to exit the house? Does she depart?
  4. Compare Frost’s “Home Burial” to Williams’s “The Dead Baby.

Stevens – Reading and Review Questions:

  1. How does Stevens’s use of everyday language and situations shape the subjects of his poetry?
  2. Compare Stevens’s “Of Modern Poetry” to Marianne Moore’s “Poetry.” How do these authors understand the roles and responsibilities of poets?

Williams – Reading and Review Questions:

  1. In his poem Paterson, Williams famously writes that there are “no ideas but in things.” What ideas do you find in “The Red Wheelbarrow”?
  2. Discuss the use of repetition in “The Dead Baby.” What universal meanings can be derived by Williams’s careful observation of the particular repetitive behavior in this poem?
  3. Explore the shifting perspectives in “This Is Just to Say.” How does the idea of the plums change over the poem’s course?

Pound – Reading and Review Questions:

  1. Consider the title as part of the poem. How does the title set your expectations for what follows?
  2. Explore the word “apparition” in the poem’s first line. What meanings and associations does this one word evoke?
  3. What emotions does the imagery of petals and water in the poem’s second line convey?
  4. Scan the poem’s meter. How does the poem’s rhythm its music correspond to its imagery?

Moore – Reading and Review Questions:

  1. How does the presentation of Moore’s poem the ragged lines, the uneven breaks shape our understanding of the poem?
  2. How does Moore distinguish her work from the work of her predecessors like Dickinson and Whitman?

Eliot – Reading and Review Questions:

  1. The poem is titled “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.” How does this poem differ from what we usually consider the typical themes of a love song? Are there any similarities to a love song?
  2. Eliot’s famous line, “Do I Dare Disturb the Universe,” has been seen as the central line in this poem. What is Prufrock referring to in this line? How could he disturb the universe?


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American Literatures After 1865 Copyright © by Scott D. Peterson; Amy Berke; Robert Bleil; Jordan Cofer; and Doug Davis is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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