I was asked to write an essay to compare 2 poems. I don't really know how to compare them. Please help. Compare Wordsworth’s “Tintern Abbey” to “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud.”  Focus...

I was asked to write an essay to compare 2 poems. I don't really know how to compare them. Please help.

Compare Wordsworth’s “Tintern Abbey” to “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud.”  Focus on theme.  How exactly are the messages similar, and how do they differ, if at all?  Use textual support.

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stella-lily-rothe | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Honors

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When comparing two poems, you generally are being asked to explain the similarities and the differences between the two.  Depending on what the assignment is, you can compare theme, narrative voice, literary devices, or (in the case of two different authors) the writers' approaches to their work.

Since you have two poems by Wordsworth, you should be focusing on theme and variation.  "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud" is one of Wordsworth's most famous poems, while "Tintern Abbey" is, in my personal opinion, far more beautiful and reflective.

Both poems deal with the difference between being AT a place, and dreaming OF being at the same place.  Wordsworth composed "Tintern Abbey" at a visit to the abbey, as you will read in the poem's link below. 

Without giving you the direct answers for your assignment, your main focus should be on the aforementioned points.  Again:

  • Both poems deal with dreaming of/daydreaming of being at a beloved place
  • Both poems deal with being AT the beloved place
  • There is absence and presence at different points in each poem
  • Each poem is consumed with the love of nature, and the longing for inner peace
  • One poem is quite long; the other is very short, yet both contain the same basic message

Now, with these points in mind, reread the two poems (as provided in the links below) and take notes on their similarities of style, meaning, and visuals.  Take notes on their differences, as well. 

You can easily construct a good comparison paper with these ideas in mind, but make sure you study the poems themselves.  Reading poetry with an eager eye and professional reading habits will do two things: 1. You will gain insight and knowledge of the poetry and poet; 2. You'll appreciate the craft itself, and find your life more enriched by the words of the long-ago. 

Hope this helps you!

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