Vendler’s Explication is largely subjective. Important parts, such as meaning, the skeleton and tone can vary from person to person. For example, with Thoreau, I may feel he was being more expositional, while his contemporaries would have thought him accusatory. Emotional curves can also be minorly subjective, as we explored, or majorly subjective, like me and the mind-blown by Thoreau. I do however think that objectivity is not something that is characteristic of literature and so this is moreover fine.

I doubt this method’s usefulness or credibility for such reasons, but it seems to be a good way to build a list of the ways in which the poem is constructed.

Vendler; Keats

Reading Helen Vendler’s peom analysis paper opened my eyes to the art of analysing poems. She teaches us a way to analyse the poem step by step, talking about the general atmosphere of the entire poem as well as the minor details. Her essay is like a step by step manual to writing poetry analysis.

That said, I feel that there isnt one single set way to going about poetry analysis and there will be times where we need to come up with alternative analysing techniques. Applying her method may not work on every poem.

I do feel, however, that i have a clearer understanding of Chapman’s Homer through her essay though, so it was immensely useful in that aspect.


Helen Vendler-reflection

Helen Vendler uses Chapman’s Homer by John Keats as an example to demonstrate her strategy for analyzing the poem. The most noticeable part was how she focuses on figuring out the general atmosphere of the poem to figure out what details and features of the poem creates that atmosphere. The examples for this are division into parts, skeleton (emotional curve), agency, roads not taken, and imagination. I usually see the details of the poem first and start writing commentary right away, so  this method of analyzing the poem was new to me.

However I felt that this method may vary depending on what type of poems we choose. Can we really discuss skeleton, for example, in his poem “To my brother George”?  Also, Helen Vendler seems to focus on the ‘atmosphere’ of the poem too much. It is good to grasp the emotion curve of the poem to spot the details, but I think it is not possible to consider the changes made to the original poem. (Imagination: What has it invented that is new, striking, and memorable-in content, genre, in analogies, in rhythm, in a speaker?) Nevertheless, by paying attention to how the poem makes me feel and details that support the  changes in feeling throughout the poem, I’ll be able to spot the features that I didn’t discuss in previous commentaries, like the effect of the rhyme scheme or rhythm on the whole poem.

Sonnet 29 – Etna St Vincent Millay’s

From reading Mr Mac Knight’s commentary, I can actually understand what he means by no  buffering your essays.

In every point he makes there is no none relevant information which means that it is exactly to the point. It has a massive effect on your essay since there is no nonsense there. Following Callam’s comment in class, the page citations are very different from what I have seen before. He also commented on some things that I would have never thought about for instance, the sound of the words I always thought that was a bit stupid to talk about but apparently not.

The line citations with the LL is completely confusing, it may be proper but I don’t agree  with it but I will have to use it. It would be great if we could for like 3 lines do LLL. When ETM talks about the switching in the poem I at first glance just go straight over it since I thought it was not significant.

“Sonnet 29”

I dislike this sonnet. It’s just confusing. AH! However, since I have to write about it… I thought the commentary essay that Mr MacKnight gave us was good, although I don’t think he wrote it!! It was well explained and to the point. There were no generalized statements either. This essay had lots of detail about the sounds and language, and it  also had a good explanation for it. Something I don’t do that this essay did do was that it looked at the poem as a whole. Instead of simply analyzing bits and pieces, it analyzed details and also put it into context with the rest of the poem. Well done!

Sonnet 29 commentary

After reading the commentary by Mr. Macknight, I’ve noticed several noticeable aspects. Firstly, lots of terms that I’ve learnt but forgotten were seen ( 🙂 ), such as ‘iamb’, ‘pathetic fallacy’ and intonation. Because I paid less attention to the rhythmic qualities of the poems/sonnets and had slight problems with describing them until now, it was really new to me. Also, there were constant line references which I forgot to do in last commentary, and when listing specific words from different parts of the sonnet brackets were used instead of listing words in quotation marks.

However, I thought that further explanations about the imagery of natural process could have been done. For example, fading sun, waning moon and ebbing tide can be related to the persona’s claim that “I have known this always”: these images are symbol of natural decline, hence hinting that the persona knew the heartbreaking consequence of love’s end since the beginning. Furthermore, sun fades every day, moon wanes every month and tide ebbs every 12 hours. These processes are repetitive and continual, which tells the readers that persona would eventually love someone again, just like the cycle of nature.

Sonnet 29 Commentary

Looking at Mr. MacKnight’s essay, I realise that I made a few very big mistakes. I wrote that the poet was a male who’d fallen out of love, watching his lovers go by, as he watched ‘beauties’ pass by year after year. Also, my essay wasn’t very structured, and focused mostly on the content of the poem. 

I learnt a lot from the model commentary. I’ve now got a better feel of how to write commentaries. It is also very interesting how we can compare different parts of the poem to get the main idea. The way I analyse the poem is more like rephrasing it, and it was very refreshing to see how clearly it cold be expressed. I got the same ideas from the poem, but the way I planned my essay became jumbled and confusing.

I think, if I planned out the essay carefully, it might be better. Also, from Mr. MacKnight’s essay, I’ve got a better idea of how to quote the poem, and make it work. Also, I learnt that the sounds of words are also important.

Commentary On Poem

After reading Mr. Macknight’s commentary, I realized that my own is lacking a lot in detail. It focussed on individual effects and its literary effects and the effect on the poem as a whole. My commentary consisted of some explanation of detailing but I realized that it lacks more connections and explanations as to why it creates a sad atmosphere. I just explain the general effects of some of the words and techniques but not the specific effects of some of words. In his commentary, he includes some effects of the sounds but I only talk about the general connotations or the structure of the poem. I also realized that I need to make sure that every sentence counts and not write generic sentences. My sentence structure should also be more precise and more clear.

In order to improve my next commentary, I will try to make a quick plan first beforehand and include some of the main points and make sure the structure of my essay is more organized.

Sonnet 29 Commentary

Today in class we wrote a commentary about ‘Sonnet 29’.  In my commentary I talked about how Millay’s repetition of natural endings  and general portrayal of love made it a sad poem.  When I read Mr. MacKnight’s commentary I noticed that he made some of the same points but he went into much more detail.  In almost every sentence he discussed what Millay had done or the implications of what she had done – there was very dense analysis.  From these commentaries I have learned the importance of getting straight to the point.  Often in my commentaries I am slow to start making useful commentary and can hopefully improve on this in the future.

Rinse And Repeat.

My first response to this poem was ” This is totally nonsense.”

The reason for this is that every second line is off the back of a shampoo bottle. Who in the right mind would do that, someone who was not sane  that’s what.  But the content of the poem is different. It gives you a insight of the life of Zabbaleen. This poem isn’t the most confusing poem in the world but it is still wierd as is poetry.

Rinse and Repeat

The first time I read this poem, I thought it was just weird. I mean, it doesn’t make any sense does it? But then I thought about it and, it’s very well written. The contrast between the advertisement of the shampoo and what actually happens with the people directly related to the shampoo is very different. They almost seem to live in a different world. I think the poem is trying to contrast the extremes of society, as well as how little REAL information is given to the buyers of shampoo. It’s also interesting how shampoo is used, instead of any other product. I think shampoo is quite a basic object that a household would have. Where this poem shows that even such a daily object is seen completely different to other people in the world.

Pseudo Poetry

In my opinion Rinse and Repeat is not really poetry, or at least it is not very sophisticated or effective poetry.  Poetry is defined by the Oxford American Dictionary as a “literary work in which special intensity is given to the expression of feelings and ideas by the use of distinctive style and rhythm.”  I find that Ford’s Rinse and Repeat does not display any particularly intense expression of feelings or ideas, but rather gives a simplistic narrative of a people coupled with text from a shampoo bottle.  The most that could be said for this poem is that it is informative and curiously structured.

Rinse and Repeat- Mark Ford

When first reading the poem ‘Rinse and Repeat’ by Mark Ford, I was so confused. The first and second line of each stanza of the poem seemed to have to relation to each other at all. So I decided to read the first line of each stanza first, then followed by all the second lines, and it actually makes more sense. This is how it would go:

 The Zabbaleen left drought-stricken rural Egypt for Cairo in the 1950s.

They brought their pigs, which they fed with the city’s discarded scraps and peelings.

Soon the zabbaleen had evolved into a vast, informal garbage team.

Young Zabbaleen scavengers attend a school called “Spirit of Youth”.

“spirit of youth” is sponsored by a manufacturer of bottles of shampoo.

Sorting and studying empty shampoo bottles, young Zabbaleen learn to read and write.


Our unique formula helps conditions and smooth damaged hair.

Drench with water, then massage deeply into scalp and roots.

There’s more to life than hair, but it’s a good place to start.

Take a deep breath and enjoy the delicious smell.

Boost and volumize lifeless hair by removing dirt and debris that weigh hair down.

Rich in essential oils. If product gets into eyes, rinse well with water immediately.

If we look at the poem like this, it tells us a story about the Zabbaleen, and also about something that is found behind an empty shampoo bottle that Zabbaleen’s learn to read and write. I don’t really know why Mark Ford didn’t just write it this way if this was what he really wanted to tell us. Perhaps he wanted to make us confused, and through our confusion, illustrate that the Zabbaleens could only write those 6 lines of shampoo advertisement, which probably would not help them much in any way.

Another way to look at the poem, would be to see the contrast between the Zabbaleen and the potential buyers of the shampoo. The Zabbaleen are from a ‘drought-stricken’ place, while the shampoo users would probably have enough money to ‘drench (their hair) with water’ and the Zabbaleen were evolving into a ‘garbage team’, while users of shampoo could enjoy life and ‘enjoy the delicious smell’ of the shampoo they were using. We can see that the Zabbaleen are very poor and are ‘scavengers’ who can only afford to go to school because it is sponsored by the owner of the shampoo company. From here, maybe the poet is also trying to tell us that if we should always look out and try to help the less fortunate people in the world. Like the shampoo manufacturer, he is able to provide a service to both the higher end of society by producing the shampoo they enjoy, and also the lower end of society by sponsoring the young Zabbaleens a basic education even though it is just providing them with some shampoo bottles to learn from, It is a start none the less. He exemplifies the message that we should do our part, no matter how small.

Rinse and Repeat

          After reading this poem for the first time, I felt as though it was like a poem that was written when the poet was distracted or couldn’t really foucs on the topic at hand and left me more than slightly confused. But after reading it multiple times, I began to think the contrast between the serious topic of the Zabbaleen’s and the not so deep topic of shampoo was an intended effect that the writer had. 

          I felt that there was a similarity between the shampoo and the Zabbaleen. The hair described in the poem seemed to me like it could be a metaphor for the earth and the shampoo was the Zabbaleen’s. In the first two lines, “The Zabbaleen left… smooth damaged hair,” it seemed like the poet was making a direct comparison between the dry land of rural Egypt to the dry hair that needed conditioning. Also in third and fourth lines, when the Zabbaleen’s are established as the “informal garbage team” the meaning is continued in the fourth line where the poet is saying that the hair is not the most important thing but it is also not to be neglected. This can be translated into meaning that the earth is important and needs to be cleaned up and taken care of but sometimes people think there are other thinks more important.

          I believe that the author is using two different approaches to say the same thing and in this way more readers will be able to understand the motive behind the poem instead of just one group of people who would be more understanding to one approach. I think the two different approaches are to state explicitly what the problem is which is that rural Egypt is drought striken and the other approach is to use a metaphor by saying that the hair is very dry and needs to be conditioned and taken care of.

Reflection- “Rinse and Repeat”

The poem made me feel sympathy for the Zabbaleens and to remorse about specific instances: such as when I’ve unconsciously wasted water, which could have been life-sustaining water to someone else.

The tone of the poem is very indifferent and factual at every odd sentence, where it seems to be listing facts like: “The Zabbaleen left drought-stricken rural Egypt for Cairo in the 1950s.” But the context seems to be telling m about the hardships of the Zabbaleens: how they inevitably left their hometown, did unpleasant works in Cairo to sustain their lives, and got surrounded by ‘materials’ and its waste to the extent that the young Zabbaleen learns how to read and write from empty shampoo bottles. Also, every even sentence was a persuasive advertisement for shampoo: “Our unique formula helps condition and smooth damaged hair”. This made me feel as if the children (Zabbaleens) are speaking directly to me to convince me to buy shampoo. Originally, the odd and even sentences seem totally unrelated until it came to an agreement by the 9th line: “”Spirit of Youth” is sponsored by a manufacturer of bottles of shampoo.” After I was acknowledged of the Zabbaleen’s destitute lives and felt like they were convincing me to buy ‘shampoo’, I felt guilty: compared to them, I am having much fortunate life but I seemed to be comparing myself to better people and wasn’t satisfied by what I already have.

Also the juxtaposition of the condition of rural Egypt and the Cairo made me feel dreadful. Their hometown is ‘drought-stricken’ and the Zabbaleens had to leave their home to survive and sustain their lives. However, the shampoo advertisement ask buyers to “Drench (hair) with water”, ‘There’s more to life than hair, but it’s a good place to start” “rinse well with water immediately”: people in the city, like me, are comfortable and rich enough to care more about their hair instead of their lives, and to waste ‘water’ at rinsing out the shampoo. To Zabbaleens, lack of ‘water’ and desire to survive made them leave their dwelling and to work in unpleasant conditions with little support. Hence the irony of the Zabbaleens advertising the shampoo to readers allowed me to look back and regret my relatively arrogant and uneconomical lifestyle, and acknowledged me of unprivileged populations around the world.


What I learnt about poetry this week?

Nothing much really.. Not that I didn’t know in someway.

I did learn a checklist for reviewing poetry, which I hope will prove to be useful to me at some later day. I do need to go over the checklist though, so I can submit it to memory.

But over all, I don’t feel I learnt that much about poetry or the poem we read, other than what was on that checklist. Maybe I’m wrong and maybe i learnt a little nugget of golden information that could one day help me win £25,000. But right now, on this dreary Sunday morning.. I don’t feel I learnt that much in my first week of IB English :/

My goal

What I’ve learnt. Well I would want to say that I’ve learn an enormous amount about poetry, and that I’m now that professional at it. However, that is not true. Although when in class and asked about how much I would rank ‘poetry’ and I gave it a 3, I do not hate it. I just don’t find it that useful and interesting. Why bother burning your brain so that you could fit your rhyming words into your Italian styled sonnet. Wouldn’t it be much easier to just write it out in normal sentences? Because it seems like the poem is ‘beautiful’ because of the way it is written, the sounds and special words that are used. However, truthfully speaking, if I just saw the poem like that, I would not understand anything. I only understand it after we rip everything apart and use the thesaurus as a translator. Thus I am now looking at the poem after it is no-longer beautiful. The only thing that I could add in now is that, I now know the meaning of the poem now, which must be good for the exams right? So I feel that poetry is a routine of breaking it up and sewing it back together again. So, I guess it’s important to be able to look at the poem and already have a brief understanding of it from the start. Then at least, I would be able to see the ‘beauty’ that everyone else seems to see. That is my goal.

Okay, apart from that, I would just like to say the Helen Vendler’s ‘worksheet’ proved to be very interesting and useful. After we started reading the middle of it, I no-longer felt so sleepy. The reason why it is in first person, why it used so many of other people’s experiences as well. I’m going to add that ‘On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer’ by John Keats; is very unique to others that I have learnt, I just don’t ‘love’ it, even-though it is interesting to ‘look’ at and ‘smell’.


Poetry!?! :/

This week in English, I have learnt about the check-list for exploring poems.

Unlike other check-lists I have learnt this one and understood it. The reason for this is the one we have been taught this week does not ask me to find out what the poems means. The check-list is helping me to breakdown the poem and understand how the poet would like me to view their poem.

Also what I have learnt this week is you don’t have to read a poem you can experience it’s journey. By this I mean you can experience it’s emotional roller coaster, it’s backbone and the way it is built.

My attitude to poetry is still the same with a few differences. I used to think poetry was a tedious task, which I still do but now it’s a task what I understand.

What I Learnt About Poetry – Angel

This week I learnt that poetry can be read and understood in many different ways and not just the usual methodical understand every line and moving on. The different perspectives of reading the poem was interesting. I learnt a different definition to tone than I had before and realized that when analysing a poem we not only hae to look for what happens presently in the poem but also what may have happened before or possibly after the poem.

Poetry can be divided into many different sections in different ways. For example, separating the sentenes, or each important poart of the poem or the poem can be divided into lines that rhyme. By dividing the poems differently, we can view and understand the poem in different ways and interpret it differently also.

I learnt that the perspective in which the poem is written in helps to create the atmosphere and the tone of the poem. There are different methods to present what we learn from the peoms for example drawing a graph that displays the emotions in the poem.

Another important aspect to consider when analysing poetry is the type of language used. We not only hae to consider the meanings and connotations to each of the words used but we also have to figure out whether the language is modern or ancient and why one word was chosen instead of another.

Discovering Poems

Over the last few days I have learnt that poetry is actually much more interesting that I thought it was. I never had an aversion to poems, but I have never really ananlysed a poem the way Helen Vendler has. Previously when I ‘analysed’ poems, I always only looked out for hidden meanings where the poet uses different words to create puns and express various tones like sarcasm or some other emotion. Now, I know that there are so many different ways to break a poem up so as to understand it better! I have learnt that one should not analyse a poem but explore it. One can explore the meaning of the words, the antecedent scenario, explore the different ways there are to break a poem up (for example, sentences, change in person, in agency, in tense and in parts of speech), where the climax of the poem is, how the poem is strung, the emotional curve of the poem, as well as the language used.

When looking at a poem, I have learnt that I should read it out loud to experience the emotional ups and downs of the poem, as well as the tone of voice the poet used as these would give me a better insight as to what the poet was possibly thinking and what the poet is possibly trying to tell us, his audience, through the poem. Also, how the poem is strung as well as language used by the poet tells a whole story on its own too. I realized that changing the poem a little, for example from first person to third person, or cancelling seemingly unimportant lines out of the poem can change the impact and effect the poem has on us as readers.

I have learnt to look at poems in a whole new light. I still think it’s difficult to dive into the poets mind and understand everything he intends his audience to understand, but it will definitely be more interesting to do so now.