Close Reading Assignment of poem "The solitary reaper"

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In this assignment, you will begin to assemble a close reading by considering the questions below regarding Wordsworth’s poem, “The Solitary Reaper.” This is not an essay (you are not responsible for a thesis statement; there is no over-riding argument; the structure will be provided by the questions below), but an opportunity to explore a poem. Another title for this exercise might be explication de texte: a detailed exploration of a (literary) text which takes its bearings from the etymology of “explication” – from the Latin, explicare, to unfold.

1. Write a tentative paraphrase of the poem, consisting in at least two sentences (preferably more) for each stanza. The point of the paraphrase is not to summarize the poem (please avoid reductive, general statements about the poem) but to begin to explore its various possibilities – possible meanings of individual words and possible interpretations of individual lines and sentences.

2. Consult the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) while exploring the poem’s vocabulary. (You can access the OED via the link in the assignment description on HuskyCT, or via the library website, under research databases.) Note the various denotations for the relevant words and consider which ones provide particular insight into the words as they appear in the context of Wordsworth’s poem. Choose four particular words of note in the poem and research them; write them up here.

3. Formally, what kind of poem is this? Describe the poem in terms of its representative poetic feet, meters, rhyme schemes, et cetera. Scan some lines that seem particularly interesting to you (keeping in mind our discussion of “representative versification”).

4. Structurally, how would you describe the organization and the logic of this poem?

5. What is the effect of all the imperatives (e.g., “Behold her” and “Stop here”) in the first stanza?

6. What is the effect of the sudden shift in tense in the final stanza?

7. What else? What else have you noticed about this poem that you want to explore?

*Attached below is a PDF of the poem as well as instructions. All material has been provided.