How should I approach an essay about the connections between these three readings: Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night; After Great Pain A Formal Feeling Comes; Because I Could Not Stop For Death?

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kcoleman2016 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

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Hello! These three great poems have some great similarities. Let's talk about how you could connect them: 

  1. Connect with Themes: All three of these poems address the themes of Death & Mortality, Coping with Loss, and Pain. When you connect works of literature through their themes, the best thing to do is to find a quotation in each poem that demonstrates the theme you have chosen. For instance, you could choose Dickinson's line "After great pain, a formal feelings comes - / The Nerves sit ceremonious, like Tombs" (After a great pain) to illustrate Coping with Loss or Pain. You would have to explain how each poem addresses the theme - for instance, does it explain how to do it? Is it a celebration? An exploration? A description of what it is? Then, once you understand the presence of the theme in each poem, you will be able to see connections. 
  2. Connect with Literary Devices: Each poem employs several literary devices, many of which they have in common. Some good choices for analysis are analogy (ex: coping with loss compared to freezing to death in "After a great pain"), personification (ex: Death as a person in "Because I could not stop"), and dialogue (ex: the conversation described between the poet and his father in the final stanza in "Do not go gentle"). Like using themes, you would want to examine how and why the poets choose these literary devices. Once you have done this, you will see how they connect. 
  3. Connect with Language: Many people forget how important word choice, sentence structure, and punctuation are when it comes to poetry. All three of these poems use vivid imagery and meaningful punctuation to emphasize important parts of their poems. You could certainly connect language through all three poems. 

One last tip: when writing your essay, make sure that for any connection that you claim exists, you include evidence from each poem. Claims are much weaker without quotations!

Good luck with your essay!

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