Explain the speaker, the situation, and what happens in the poem.

Choose one of the four following poems for a paper of analysis (Titles of poems are links to their sources).

Explain the speaker, the situation, and what happens in the poem. Consider tone, any use of imagery or figurative language, and possible impact of the poem on a reader.

Lastly, compare it with the designated poem from Week 9, pointing out not only similarities but significant differences in tone, language (figurative or literal imagery), subject matter and/or theme.

For grading criteria, scroll down past the poems.


1. Compare/contrast “Samira” to “The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner” by Randall Jarrell

Samira, by Allan Tierney

Her name is Samira
She is five

She sees the silver bird flying through a clear blue sky
It glints in the sun and catches her eye

Fifteen seconds pass slow in the sun… [5]

The sight brings happy memories to her mind
Little tinsel squares thrown at a joyous wedding
The tiny silver horse she had loved so much
in the bazaar
A sparkle of water in the market square [10]

Ten seconds pass, a leaf falls gently…

She smiles and squints in the sun
and closes one beautiful brown eye
The better to see her silver bird fly

The bird makes a long slow arc [15]
She loves the shape of the curve it makes
Like the curve of her arm shielding her eyes
Her thoughts go to her very own tree
And the soft shapes of its lovely limbs
And she thinks of the sound [20]
Of the leaves at night
How they take her off to sleep

Five seconds of love and light remain…

The sun has warmed her to sleepy dreaming
Creeping under the shade of her protecting arm [25]
And in playful loving and new thoughts waking
She touches her cheek
And runs to tell………


On the side of the “bird” in large letters:
“From Uncle Sam” and a grin [30]
The missile cost so many dollars
So many gifts that could have been…
Perhaps for ten thousand children
And two worlds so much nearer
But death from the sky could never bring [35]
A tiny horse to our Samira

Having lost its track and trajectory
The maps of its mind don’t work
And who will ever know why
It saw the house as a target [40]
Was it lost and dreaming too?
And through a fever of confusion
A little village house
Seemed a better place to die
Than its sad mechanical mind [45]
Too cold and lonely in the sky

Ten days go by in a fiery heat
before a GI passes by
Thinking of his lovely daughter
The apple of his eye [50]
The bloody bones he tidies up
And throws them in the sewer
“Some damned unlucky Iraqi cat or dog”
Our world is now one fewer



2. Compare/contrast “A Message From Tony Blair” to “The Unknown Citizen” by W.H. Auden

Excerpts from A Message from Tony Blair to the People of Iraq, by David Roberts Use this version of the poem only, not the longer version at the Internet link.

(a week after the start of the attacks by US and UK forces, March 2003)

Look into my honest eyes.
Listen to my honest lies.
Look into my angel face.
Just hear the sincerity in my voice.

I want you all to understand [5]
the better future we have planned.
We bomb with Christian love, not Christian hate.
We come,
not to conquer,
but to liberate. [10]

It is essential, and I want to make this very clear,
that our first aim is to make the world a safer place.
And with precision bombing you need have no fear.
And though you’ve not actually uttered threatening words
to Britain and America, or indeed the world, [15]
and though you haven’t acted yet,
we believe you pose a threat.


I’m sure you will appreciate
that we have the right
to remove regimes [25]
that we dislike.
We have the right to assassinate.
We have the right to decide your fate.

So the purpose of our mission,
now that war has started, [30]
is also perfectly clear:
we come to bring you hope
and take away your fear.

Our peace, justice and democracy
you will soon enjoy and celebrate. [35]
Remember, we come,
not to conquer,
but to liberate.

Your cities shake and thunder with our bombs.
Tumbling buildings. Plumes of flames. [40]
Roaring jets and shrieking men.
The crash of glass and children’s screams.
We see the mushroom clouds again.
Now you can appreciate the genius of our civilisation.
Remember, this isn’t war: [45]
it’s liberation.

–28 March-9 April 2003


3. Compare/contrast “The Album” to “The Colonel” by Carolyn Forche’

The Album, by Andreas Morgner

Butcher pics. Blood porn. Military snuff.
What the photographer took to save his own skin.
An album with the kind of trophy shots
That soldiers around the world take
After a battle while the fires burn and [5]
The blood is still wet.
To keep the machetes at bay, the photographer
Encouraged them to celebrate the fact that
When the bullets stopped flying
They were the ones still standing.
That their enemy was now well and truly fucked [10]
Corpses that could be posed to show the folks
At home what great warriors they had become.
How the feared enemy was now nothing but
Footstools for victorious boots to rest comfortably on.
Sometimes the photo is just of a head [15]
Propped on the hood of a truck or on a log.
This one has sunglasses and a lit cigarette
In its mouth as if still trying to be cool.
Many just look like they are sleeping
Others are poked or prodded by [20]
Grinning victors and wear a frown as if annoyed.
The worst are those scenes that aren’t posed.
The ones the photographer took
When the soldiers weren’t looking
Then you see those scattered pieces [25]
While they were still all attached
When fear still poured from the eyes and
Limbs moved as they stumbled towards
God and the bloody machetes.


Compare/contrast “Embassy” by W. H. Auden to “Casual Wear” by James Merrill

Embassy by W. H. Auden

As evening fell the day’s oppression lifted;
Tall peaks came into focus; it had rained:
Across wide lawns and cultured flowers drifted
The conversation of the highly trained.

Thin gardeners watched them pass and priced their shoes;
A chauffeur waited, reading in the drive,
For them to finish their exchange of views:
It looked a picture of the way to live.

Far off, no matter what good they intended,
Two armies waited for a verbal error
With well-made implements for causing pain,

And on the issue of their charm depended
A land laid waste with all its young men slain,
Its women weeping, and its towns in terror.


Grading Criteria

Content: Your paper shows evidence of careful thought and does not merely repeat class discussion.


Topic and organization: The paper must be on the topic as assigned. You analyzed the speaker, situation, what happens in the poem, use of figurative language and impact of the poem on a reader. You then compared and contrasted the poem to the designated poem. Your paper has an introduction where you make the scope of your paper clear. Your conclusion comments on the significance of what you have said and does not trail off or end abruptly.


Clarity: Your paper is developed in enough detail that I can understand what you are saying.


Careful Reading of the Text: You show that you have read carefully and back up your points from the texts (the new poem as well as the one you are comparing it to)without distorting the meaning of the poems. You refer to the texts correctly by direct quotation, which is grammatical and in context, in order to back up your assertions. You incorporate quotations gracefully into the paper and comment on their significance.

See Purdue University Online Writing Lab for more information. (Also see Quoting poetry)


Editing: The paper must be spell-checked and carefully proofread. You must demonstrate a reasonable command of the conventions of academic writing.


Use of Sources Other Than the Texts: You do not need to use additional sources other than the poems, but if you do, you must acknowledge them in the text of your paper and in an attached Works Consulted list. Even paraphrases of other ideas must be acknowledged.

-okay or minus up to 50 points



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