English III Honors Crawford




Purpose: To compare (rhetorically and subjectively) a song (or essay or film clip or excerpt) and a poem which SHARE A THEME. Ultimately, your presentation should be aimed at comprehensively addressing the following question: which vehicle (poem or song) most persuasively addresses the given theme?


Choice of Authors: Please choose a British Renaissance poem from pages 210-280 in your text book.


Topic Example:  Shakespeare’s Sonnet 130 and  Dave Matthew’s Crash both convey strong feelings about a loved one.  However, while Shakespeare indirectly praises his lover (only in the last line of the sonnet does he say she is better than all he compares her to), Matthews directly reveals his love using an allusion of waves (his lover) crashing into the shore (him).  Ultimately, Shakespeare and Matthews are equally effective.


Project Details You should provide TWO written assignments:

1) One typed outline/study sheet including:

                1) rhetorical/ literary devices of poem and song

                2) specific textual evidence from both essay and poem: proof of the rhet./literary devices,

                3) effect on reader of both, and

                4) a clear “thesis” statement defining the common theme of the works, delineating the different methods of  portraying it, and confirming which work most persuasively expresses this theme.


2) One poem explication or analysis.



    "Holy Sonnet 10" by Donne turns abstract death into a mortal being, and then kills him.  The speaker addresses death in a mocking tone, "some have called thee/ Mighty and dreadful...thou art not so" and attempts to show that death has only limited power. The theme of the poem seems to be that man can challenge death's apparent omnipotence.

    Donne writes that death ("Mr. Death" if you will) is mistaken if he thinks that he wins when he thinks that he wins when he "dost overthrow."  Sleep looks like death, and yet it gives pleasure to man.  Death is stuck with negative forces "desperate men, poison, sickness," and man, through drugs, can even create a state of sleep.  The final couplet speaks for the afterlife, when Christians believe "we wake eternally," and pass beyond death's grasp.

    The word choice allies good images with man and evil ones with death.  While sleep is the "soul's delivery," death is a "slave to fate."  The implied paradox throughout the poem is that death "shalt die"--this forces Donne to show that death can be conquered.  The imagery is straightforward, and the only allusion which is elusive is in line 12, when he asks "why swell'st thou then?"  Given the opium reference in line 11, it is clear that Donne wishes the reader to see the human character "cheating" death with the smoked opium and death inappropriately "swelling with false pride."

    Donne's use of the Shakespearean sonnet form creates a clear break after line 8, when he directly compares man's power to death's.  The rhymed couplet serves as a final slap in the face; using the personal second person "thou" is a last insult to death made puny.  Thus, the Christian man never falls into death's clutches.



INTRO:  First sentence identifies poem and author and paraphrases in one sentence what goes on in the poem. Second sentence identifies the tone and purpose of the poem.  The third sentence tells the theme of the poem.

2nd P:  Expand on paraphrase using specific quotes from the poem.

3rd P:  Identify and explain the purpose and effect of the important literary techniques in the poem:

(metaphor, personification, simile, hyperbole, metonymy, synechdoche, paradox, irony, imagery, diction, etc..)

CONCLUSION:  Address the form of the poem (meter and scansion and type of poem) and how the author uses this form. Readdress the theme as seen in the last part of the poem.




WARNING: The most difficult part of this assignment will probably be your selection of topic. Themes are not derived at first glance.


Mrs. Crawford's

English III Honors