Sonnet 61” from Idea, Michael Drayton

Sonnet 61” from Idea, Michael Drayton
I d e a.

by Michael Drayton


SINCE there’s no help, come, let us kiss and part,
Nay, I have done, you get no more of me,
And I am glad, yea, glad with all my heart,
That thus so cleanly I myself can free.
Shake hands for ever, cancel all our vows,
And when we meet at any time again
Be it not seen in either of our brows
That we one jot of former love retain.
Now at the last gasp of Love’s latest breath,
When, his pulse failing, Passion speechless lies,
When Faith is kneeling by his bed of death,
And Innocence is closing up his eyes.
Now, if thou wouldst, when all have given him over,
From death to life thou might’st him yet recover.

Short Interpretive Essay: The Sonnet
?1. Allow students to express more precisely their understanding of a particular work of literature
2. Afford students an opportunity to work with the sonnet form in an analytical way
3. Invite students to read and examine a sonnet closely to discover the resonance of
this particular literary expression.
4. Enable students to apply their composition and writing skills in an essay expressing their grasp of a literary work

I. Getting to Know the Poem
1. Reread your chosen sonnet several times, including aloud. Try to read the poem in terms of sentences rather than poetic lines. In other words, read it as if you

were reading sentences, and avoid pausing at the end of a line just because of the rhyme scheme. This will give you a better sense of what the sonnet is saying.

Reading aloud offers you an auditory experience not available when reading silently. It will help you notice how the poet uses sound repetitions and other auditory

techniques to suggest connections between ideas.
2. Look up the exact definition of all words that you do not know well or are unsure of. If you really want to get particular, you could use the Oxford English

Dictionary (usually referred to as the O.E.D.) to look up what the words meant during the time the sonnet was written. The O.E.D. is only available in libraries

because it is over 14 volumes! It takes some getting used to, but what it does for every word in English is trace its origin, providing the meaning of the word and any

changes throughout its history. If nothing else, using the O.E.D. is a real experience in the love of words.
3. Some readers get nervous about metaphors, similes, and other literary techniques, but they are about the only way a writer can communicate ideas that lie beyond the

literal. (For example, as basic as the taste of a strawberry is to our experience, there are no word or phrase equivalents to its taste. So anyone writing about the

taste of a strawberry would be forced to use metaphor, simile, analogy, or some other figurative technique.) Try to identify any of these techniques working in your

poem. Don’t dissect the poem, but think of yourself as a miner trying to dig deeper to uncover the implications of the poem’s language. Good readers are like astute

observers of human behavior: they look beneath the surface for what is implied by a person’s body language and speech, knowing that often the really important meaning

lies there.
4. Keep notes, for goodness sakes! Don’t just try to store all the above information in your head. Write it down. This way you can see what kind of information you

have gathered.
5. Ask yourself questions about the poem. For example, is the poet talking to anyone in particular? If so, who is she? What kind of relationship does she have with the

speaker in the poem (i.e. the voice you hear when you read the poem)? Is there any implied background or events between the poet and this person?
6. Sum up the focus, or point, of the poem in one sentence. This is a good way to establish the point around which the poem centers its energy.
7. Observe the rhyme scheme and make careful notes about how it might emphasize key ideas or images.
8. Look at the structure of the poem. Does the poet use the first 8 lines to explore a “problem”? Where is the “turn”? What “resolution” does the poet offer in the

final 6 lines?
II. Getting Ready to Write about the Poem
The step-­-by-­-step procedure outlined above will afford you an opportunity to become closely familiar with the poem. Now you are ready to consider your writing task.

Think about an opening paragraph for an essay that would set the stage for a 2 – 3 page discussion of the poem (this would work out to about 500 – 600 words since the

pages will be double spaced). This opening paragraph should connect with your reader, create interest, and state your purpose and point for the essay (called the

thesis in composition classes). Since you are going to explore the meaning of the poem, your thesis will probably have something to do with the main idea of the poem

(see step 6 above).
Once you have an introductory paragraph sketched out, you are ready to organize your notes and think about how you plan to develop your ideas. In the body of your

essay (probably about 3 – 5 paragraphs) you want to make sure that you have continuity to your discussion. That is, the ideas should flow from paragraph to paragraph,

and each paragraph should be organized around one key point that you want to make (topic sentence) that supports the thesis stated in the opening paragraph.
A conclusion is more than just a restatement of your thesis. It should give the reader a sense of closure regarding the discussion. It should be proportionate to the

essay, so a mere sentence or two would not be sufficient.
This draft described above would be called something like the shaping draft by some textbooks. I avoid the term rough draft because the ideas aren’t always rough.

Rather, they are merely sketched out so that you, the writer, and your fellow student readers, can have an idea of what you are trying to say and how you support what

you have said.


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