So What?

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"The analysis of even a short poem, however, can grow long because of the need to descibe word positions and stresses and also to determine the various effects" (Roberts 197).

All the more reason to make sure your prosody explanation passes the tried and true "So What?" test.  As with everything in literature, have a reason for what you write.  For example, stating a poem has an A B A B rhyme scheme and leaving it at that does not further your thesis.  Even if your professor specifically asks you to right about prosody, it still should be tied into a greater theme.  What does the poet accomplish by applying those techniques?  What mood is enhanced?  Do the practices add to or detract from the tone?

Just make sure when you're refering to prosody, you're not just going through the motions.  It's great to be skilled in scansion, but always make sure your observations are encompassed by your thesis.

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3 Comments

Dave said:

I definately agree....and in a lot of cases (with older poems) there is no possible way to explain why the poet selected that rhyme scheme, etc. For example, in Shakespeare's Sonnet #30, he pretty much had to use the ABABCDCDEFEFGG scheme...or at least change the title of the poem, to get the sonnet bit out of there, and not publish it in a collection of sonnets. Plus, he's sort of stuck writing in Shakespearean sonnets, just cause of his name.....I guess my point is that sometimes the reason a poet selects (selected would be more accurate, since no one wants to read Shakespeare anymore...haha) a specific scansion and rhyme scheme, is so that the poem would fit whatever the popular form was at the time. Thus the only reason behind their form is that all the cool kids were doing it.

Aja Hannah said:

I wish I knew some of this information earlier because I've written about poems for papers before and I didn't analyze the prosody of it. It could have added pages (and meaning) to my paper.

Josie Rush said:

Dave- You're right, sometimes a poet writes in a certain form just because that was a popular way to write. Though I think even in those circumstances, we can say what the form added to the overall poem. Like in Shakespeare's sonnets (even though no one wants to read those anymore...heh), the obvious turning points of the poems may make the theme more obvious or something like that.
Aja- Definitely. When I was writing about "Daddy," the sounds that Plath used in her poem added to the tone, and thanks to our Intro to Lit class, I could expand on that technique a little bit.

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Josie Rush on So What?: Dave- You're right, sometimes
Aja Hannah on So What?: I wish I knew some of this inf
Dave on So What?: I definately agree....and in a