In your textbook, read biographical notes and poems from these authors:
W.H. Auden (p 964-970)
Stephen Spender (p 970-973)
Dylan Thomas (p 975-981)
Textbook pages 949-954. ("Preludes" and "The Hollow Men")
"Love Song of Alfred J. Prufrock" by Eliot (available online)
Read Auden's "Musee des Beaux Arts", and take a look at Brueghel's "Icarus" in your textbook or in a larger form at this link. Think about the line "But for him it was not an important failure." Read William Carlos William's poem about the same painting, "Landscape with the Fall of Icarus." Consider how regular life goes on around tragic or important events. Now draw or paint your own "Landscape with the Fall of Icarus" set in a contemporary scene. What would people in your life be engaged in when they failed to notice Icarus falling out of the sky?
Read Dylan Thomas' poem "Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night." The poem is written in the form of a villanelle. Here's another example: Sylvia Plath's "Mad Girl's Love Song." In Thomas' poem, the repetition gives emphasis. In Plath's, it gives the impression of obsession. Here's another, by Auden: "If I Could Tell You." Write your own villanelle. The form is here, where A1 is the first repeated refrain, A2 is the second repeated refrain, a is a line ending with the first rhyme, and b is a line ending with the second rhyme:
Read "The Love Song of Alfred J. Prufrock". Prufrock is paralyzed by his modern world, afraid to act, afraid to be judged, afraid of all of the "women that come and go." Write your own poem back to Prufrock, kicking him in the rear and challenging him to act, speak, be a part of life, and get over his modernist fears of the 20th century. You could choose to write to Prufrock in the voice of one of the women he mentions, who talk of Michelangelo, or you can write to him as a voice from the future. Your poem should be in the style of T.S. Eliot -- that is, it doesn't have to rhyme or follow any particular form.
Please cast your mind back over the year and think about all the literature we have studied. Write a letter to me, your teacher, in which you give some feedback on the class. My syllabus is evolving all the time, and you can help direct things for those hapless schmucks who fall into my class when British Literature comes around again in four years. I would like to know your favorite and least favorite of the longer works we read, specifically the novels, but I'm also interested in plays and stories. What should I cut from the list and what should I keep? I'd also like to hear if there were any assignments you found particularly awful or un-useful, or any you liked a lot. Finally, from the activities, which were the best and worst? Think about the King Lear play, the shaving cream painting, water blow balls, the minute movies, Poketry, and the 1984 marathon.
1. Why did Auden move to America?
2. How did Auden feel about Christianity later in his life?
3. Which side did Auden take in the Spanish Civil War?
4. In the poem, "Spain 1937," which seems most attractive: yesterday, tomorrow, or today?
5. What three paintings are referenced in "Musee des Beaux Arts"?
6. What was the goal of Stephen Spender's poetry, according to the biographical note?
7. Would you call the poem "What I Expected" optimistic or pessimistic about modern times?
8. In what part of England did Dylan Thomas mostly live?
9. What is the "force" that Dylan Thomas references in "The Force That Through the Green Fuse Drives the Flower"?
10. "Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night" is an example of what poetic form?
11. Where was T.S. Eliot born and why is he in our textbook of British Literature?
12. What famous poem of T.S. Eliot's expressed the fragmentation of society that England experienced in the early 20th century?
13. Reading the works of what Italian poet lead Eliot closer to the Catholic faith?
14. The literary device "synecdoche" means using a part of something to stand for a whole thing. How does Eliot use this device in Prelude II?
15. What literary allusion comes in the epigraph to "The Hollow Men"?
16. Eliot compares the despairing modern "hollow men" to real men like Kurtz and Guy Fawkes. But those men had awful deaths. Why would modern readers want to be more like them and less like those under the sway of the "Shadow"?