Select a recorder who will record your group's response to the
question below, so your group can contribute your ideas to the
general discussion which will follow. To begin, have the recorder
read aloud the questions below; then, have someone in the group
read the poem aloud.
1. Using the entry on the sonnet in Abrams (pp.197-8) and/or
the entry in Norton Anthology of Poetry (pp.lxxiii-lxxv), evaluate
the structure of the sonnet and the development of its argument to
determine whether it is an English or an Italian sonnet.
2. Paraphrase the sonnet's argument, and determine the
speaker's tone in relation to the subject of the sonnet. For
instance, if the subject of the sonnet is love and the beloved,
how are they treated, described, by the speaker?
3. What degree of power is attributed to writing and/or
poetry? Through what images or comparisons is this degree of
4. How does the sonnet's structure contribute to its
meaning? That is, identify the relationship between the structure
and the speaker's argument.
5. Write a thesis about the meaning of this sonnet as a
whole. Remember: whatever argument you come up with should be
applicable to the whole poem. A couple of tests for your thesis
to pass: (1) Does it make a claim that is truly contestable and
therefore engaging? (2) Are the terms you are using precise and
Return to Phil Nel's syllabus for English 112W, section