Poetic Process & 'Preface to the Lyrical Ballads

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SWBAT recreate the poetic writing process with Wordsworth's Lucy poems

Big Idea

Is it possible to understand a poem better by looking at a poet's writing process.

Poetry or Prose?

20 minutes

In groups students looked at Observations Prefixed to Lyrical Ballads (1800) and I Wandered Lonely As a Cloud. 

Then they used this resource from ReadWriteThink What is Poetry? Contrasting Poetry and Prose to make comparisons between Wordsworth's poem and his preface.

This process prepared them for the next activity which was to go back and re-read a section of Wordsworth's preface to determine his philosophical approach to writing poetry.  

At first students were a little confused at the simplistic nature of the tasks.  They struggled to get organized and I had to conference with individual groups to clarify the instructions and the purpose of the assignment.  

Once they understood what they needed to do, and that it was simple, it took them little time, but the simplicity of the assignment stretched the time out to complete the task. 


What Were Wordsworth Poetics?

20 minutes

Next we go back to Wordsworth's Preface to look for clues that might give us insight into his writing process. 

I have the students split the preface up into four sections and each person in the group take a section.  I have them create sections on a blank piece of paper under:

Audience & Purpose, Form, Language, Setting & Subject Matter

While they may not fill in notes and examples under each heading, they will know what to look for. The students use  several different methods to complete this task.  One group divided up the different sections and had each member look for different features.  Another group divided up the pages and reported back what they read on the single page. A third group had one member read aloud while the other members took notes on what they heard.

I found these different approaches interesting as we are now at a point in the year where the different groups have developed a cohesion and streamlined their approaches to work.  I still have assignments in which I randomly assign students to unique groups, but often I let them self-select groups and the teamwork and cohesion is interesting to watch.



Wrap-Up: Defining Wordsworth Poetic Process

10 minutes

Now we come back together as a class and review Wordsworth's entire preface. Students have the opportunity to fill in the blank headings they didn't fill in when they read their sections. 

We don't have much time but we review the difference between poetry and prose, and then begin to analyze Wordsworth's poetic technique. 

Only one student has time to start presenting what she and her group did before the bell rings.  We will continue to unpack Wordsworth's poetic process tomorrow when we read 'Tintern Abbey'.