Essay 2: The Poem Collage

Writing Prompt Task:

In a thesis-based essay provide a reflection on three different poems that stand out to you from our class based on the following criteria: a poem that you dislike, a poem you would recommend to other readers, and a poem that you connect with personally. In your reflection of each poem, analyze a craft element the poet uses to create a particular effect in the poem. The best essays will cover at least three different craft elements and will elaborate on the significance of the craft elements (Imagery, Narration, Gestures, Dialogue and Action) as well as one’s experience of reading the poems.

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Successful essays will…

Begin with an introductory paragraph that sets up the topic, provides any needed background information that your readers will need to understand the purpose of your essay, and includes a thesis statement that asserts your position and makes the central claim for your essay. The thesis should not include statements like “In this essay, I will…” The background information should include the name of important texts and / or the authors’ names.

Organize information with paragraphs that have a topic sentence (sometimes called a point), supporting information that includes quotations from the text and illustrative examples, and discussion / elaboration.

Introduce quotes with context and signal phrases, integrate them in the paragraphs, cite them correctly in MLA, and explain how the quotes are relevant to the point of the paragraph.

Develop ideas in the paragraphs so that they all connect and refer back to the thesis.

Utilize a variety of sentence structures successfully.

Poem #1

Paul Dunbar “Douglass”


Ah, Douglass, we have fall’n on evil days,

Such days as thou, not even thou didst know,

When thee, the eyes of that harsh long ago

Saw, salient, at the cross of devious ways,

And all the country heard thee with amaze.

Not ended then, the passionate ebb and flow,

The awful tide that battled to and fro;

We ride amid a tempest of dispraise.

Now, when the waves of swift dissension swarm,

And Honor, the strong pilot, lieth stark,

Oh, for thy voice high-sounding o’er the storm,

For thy strong arm to guide the shivering bark,

The blast-defying power of thy form,

To give us comfort through the lonely dark.

Slow through the Dark

Slow moves the pageant of a climbing race;

Their footsteps drag far, far below the height,

And, unprevailing by their utmost might,

Seem faltering downward from each hard won place.

No strange, swift-sprung exception we; we trace

A devious way thro’ dim uncertain light,–

Our hope, through the long vistaed years, a sight

Of that our Captain’s soul sees face to face.

Who, faithless, faltering that the road is steep,

Now raiseth up his drear insistent cry?

Who stoppeth here to spend a while in sleep

Or curseth that the storm obscures the sky?

Heed not the darkness round you, dull and deep;

The clouds grow thickest when the summit’s nigh.

Poem #2 November Cotton Flower


Boll-weevil’s coming, and the winter’s cold,

Made cotton-stalks look rusty, seasons old,

And cotton, scarce as any southern snow,

Was vanishing; the branch, so pinched and slow,

Failed in its function as the autumn rake;

Drouth fighting soil had caused the soil to take

All water from the streams; dead birds were found

In wells a hundred feet below the ground—

Such was the season when the flower bloomed.

Old folks were startled, and it soon assumed

Significance. Superstition saw 9

Something it had never seen before: 9

Brown eyes that loved without a trace of fear,

Beauty so sudden for that time of year.

Poem #3 Childhood



When I was a child I knew red miners

dressed raggedly and wearing carbide lamps.

I saw them come down red hills to their camps

dyed with red dust from old Ishkooda mines.

Night after night I met them on the roads,

or on the streets in town I caught their glance;

the swing of dinner buckets in their hands,

and grumbling undermining all their words.

I also lived in low cotton country

where moonlight hovered over ripe haystacks,

or stumps of trees, and croppers’ rotting shacks

with famine, terror, flood, and plague near by;

where sentiment and hatred still held sway

and only bitter land was washed away.

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