What is the general structure of writing a compare and contrast essay on two poems? What do we write in the intro? What do we write in the body? What do we write in the conclusion?  I know we...

What is the general structure of writing a compare and contrast essay on two poems?

What do we write in the intro?

What do we write in the body?

What do we write in the conclusion? 

I know we must discuss form, structure, title, imagery, diction, style, etc. (am I missing something?) but how do we add it into our essay?

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wordprof | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Try to concentrate on the function, the purpose, of the assignment: the teacher is encouraging you to penetrate the inner workings of poems in general -- how poems work. In a compare-contrast essay, the thesis statement can be replaced by a general declaration such as "By comparing and contrasting the way these two poems give their poetic effect, we can better understand Eliot's statement 'A poem must not mean, but be.'"  Then start with the largest elements: genre, period, length, stanza structure, etc. Follow these comparisons with a paragraph about connotations -- how certain phrases and words in both poems have a history of prior use along with their simple definition.  Then look at subtler aspects -- placement of imagery, echoes of one line with another, etc.  If the essay is a long one, you can discuss the poems individually, giving a paragraph to each element of one poem, then doing the same to the next poem, followed by a paragraph drawing your two poems together; if a shorter essay is better, combine the discussions into one paragraph for each element, in which the poems are discussed together. 

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