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Exploring Structure with Shakespeare and Wordsworth

Subject:

Language Arts  

Grade:

12  

Structure – Shakespeare and William Wordsworth

  1. In Sonnet 12 by Shakespeare, how does he show the passing of time in the poem?

Shakespeare shows the passage of time through multiple examples of change. In the first two lines, the clock chimes to tell us when the day begins to sink into night. “When I do count the clock that tells the time, and see the brave day sunk in hideous night;” (Shakespeare 1-2). A flower, the violet, begins to droop and die as it ages past its prime. Dark hair begins to turn silver with a dash of white. The seasons change from summer to winter.

 

  1. What does Shakespeare mean when he states “And nothing ‘gainst Time’s scythe can make defense, save breed, to brave him when he takes thee hence.” (Shakespeare 13-14)? Who is taking him away and where are they taking him?

He’s saying that nothing can protect you from time; there is no defense against aging and the perpetual movement of time. The best thing you can do is have children and procreate, so that they may challenge you when you pass from this world, and carry on your legacy, your name. Time is taking him away, and he will be taken to death’s door and whatever lies beyond. “And nothing ‘gainst Time’s scythe can make defense, save breed, to brave him when he takes thee hence.” (Shakespeare 13-14).

 

  1. What 3 colours are referenced in Shakespeare’s poem? What do they symbolize and how to they contribute to the mood of the poem?

The 3 colours referenced in Shakespeare’s poem are sable, white, and green. The sable and white symbolize the hair of a person changing colours as they age. It adds to the sad, melancholy mood by giving the reader an example in which they may be more familiar with seeing as the hair colour change is a much more common problem that most people are faced with. Green symbolizes the life that blooms in the spring and summer, which occurs on a  steady cycle. It adds to the happiness of the poem, it allows the reader to think of it as the flowers reproducing in order to have their seeds bloom in the spring.”And summer’s green all girded up in sheaves borne on the bier with white and bristly beard,” (Shakespeare 7-8). It’s similar to giving life to children; it takes a few seasons to fully develop.

 

  1. In William Wordsworth’s poem, ‘We Are Seven’, how does the author create eeriness at the beginning of the poem? Do you find this approach effective?

Without giving the reading background information, Wordsworth starts the poem off with a errie subject, death. His first stanza reads: “A Simple Child, that lightly draws its breath, and feels its life in every limb, what should it know of death?” (Wordsworth 1-4). I find the approach he used effective, because it hooks you in and persuades you to continue reading.

 

 

  1. What is the author and the young girl in the poem discussing? Where are her siblings?

The author and the young girl are discussing her siblings. 2 of her siblings live in Conway, two others are out at sea, and two are buried in the church-yard. “She answered, “Seven are we; and two of us at Conway dwell, and two are gone to sea. Two of us in the church-yard life, my sister and my brother;”” (Wordsworth 18-21).

 

  1. Look at the year this poem was written; does the time period have any significance on why the young girl had two siblings die?

In 1798 there weren’t many satisfactory health institutions. Infantile and children mortality rates were high, because parents couldn’t support them and take care of them.  “The first that died was sister Jane; in bed she moanig lay, till God released her of her pain; and then she went away.” (Wordsworth 49-52)

  1. How is rhythm created in this poem as you read each line? How many lines are in each stanza?

Rhythm is created in a four beat to three beat to four beat to three beat style. In each stanza there are four lines. “She had a rustic, woodland air, and she was wildly clad: Her eyes were fair, and very fair; — her beauty made me glad.” (Wordsworth 9-12).

 

  1. Which of the two poems did you enjoy the most and why? Be sure to provide your won personal opinion while also referencing the structure of the poem. 

I really liked “We Are Seven”, I liked the idea of innocence in children. The little girl in the story either hadn’t fully understood what it meant when her siblings had died, or she understood it so well that she hadn’t didn’t forget nor forsake them when they had left the physical world. “The little Maid would have her will, and said “Nay, we are seven!”” (Wordsworth 68-69).  I tend to enjoy ballad poems because I like reading poems when it’s written more in a narrative style. 

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