Selected Poem for discussion: “Sympathy” by Paul Dunbar (page 837). (It’s less than a page long.)
Instructions: (First, watch the lecture on poetry and complete that assignment then do this assignment. ) Read the poem “Sympathy” (page 837) and follow the instructions in the prompt below for the discussion.
Let’s discuss this poem together.
The first steps to understanding a poem are always to first read it (or hear it). The next step is to translate it (or paraphrase it) into straightforward language you understand, looking up words you are unfamiliar with. Do these first two steps on your own separately, then,as a class, let’s discuss the poem, using the questions below to guide our discussion. You don’t have to answer ALL of the questions in your post, but at least 3 or 4 of them. However, as a class, we should answer ALL of these questions together. This is a discussion, so it’s okay if we disagree with each other concerning our interpretations of the poem.
Let’s look at some of the elements of poetry in this poem. (These are taken from the lecture, so you should be familiar with them.)
Action/Conflict: What happens in the poem?
Repetition: What lines are repeated (or slightly varied)? Does this emphasize something?
Imagery: What images does the speaker associate with the bird? What causes the bird pain/sorrow?
Speaker: Who is the speaker of the poem?
The title: How does the title relate to the poem? What “Sympathy” is being described?
Tone: How would you describe the tone of this poem?
Biographical/historical context: Does the fact that this poem was written by an African-American in 1893 influence our interpretation of the poem and its “theme”? Does the author’s biographical information and the historical context of the poem make the poem more complex, rich and profound? If so, how?
Theme: Tying the above elements together, what do you think we could say is the THEME of the poem?
Write a minimum of 7 to 10 sentences in your post.
The required textbook
The Norton Introduction to Literature, Shorter Thirteenth EditionKelly J. MaysW. W. Norton & Company, Inc.ISBN: 978-0-393-66492-8