Explicating House Work: Edward Taylor & The Conceit
Lesson 3 of 10
Objective: SWBAT identify and explain the conceit in Edward Taylor's "Huswifery" by unpacking the development of the metaphor throughout the poem.
We open class today with a welcome to "Be Late for Something" Day ("Just not class!" I add), as I pass out the directions for students to write their own Puritan Plain Style Poems. As always, Daily Holidays serve to build a sense of community, openness, and trust in the classroom, especially early in the school year as teachers and students are still "feeling out" the classroom climate and communication styles.
Following the procedure I set two days ago, I ask students to flip to the poem, Edward Taylor's "Huswifery" and take out the SOAPSTone and other explication notes they completed for this poem. We are continuing the same process of explication poetry to reinforce what to look for when and how to go about explicating poetry, as well as create a sense of continuity and routine in the classroom.
As with "To My Dear and Loving Husband" (see lesson: "More Then Turkey Legs and Buckled Hats: Puritan Background and Poetic Analysis") and "Upon the Burning of Our House" (see lesson: "Choosing Words Carefully: Anne Bradstreet's Diction and Style"), I project the poem onto the whiteboard, so that throughout class today, we can annotate the poem for student notes. After asking for volunteers to read, I direct the class to listen for the iambic rhythm and AB, AB, CC rhyme scheme. After reading the poem once, I solicit students to come to the board and make an accent mark above the strong or accented syllable in the first line, and the same with marking the rhyme, in order to identify, and then analyze the impact of these choices on the meaning of the poem (RL.9-10.4), especially how the rhythm reflects how the motif of prayer and the tone of supplication, a Puritan asking for God's favor develops with each part of the weaving process alluded to (RL.9-10.2).
In order to highlight Taylor's use of poetic structure, I solicit a volunteer to re-read the first stanza playing up or over-emphasizing the rhythm and rhyme. If students do not point it out, as with Bradstreet, I address where Taylor uses slant rhyme (half rhyme, approximate rhyme, etc.) in this poem ("choice/paradise", "memory/glorify").
The second element we address is Taylor's as an example of Puritan Plain Style: the list of everyday objects use to make cloth, the words that celebrate the faith, and words that clearly express his meaning. I ask students to recall what a conceit is, and further explain how Taylor is creating a parallel between weaving cloth and receiving grace. This does require a brief, pantomimed lecture on how to spin, weave, and trim cloth. We discuss student impression of this conceit, and the impact it has on the poem (RL.9-10.4).
As we cover SOAPSTone, students to identify the textual evidence that lets us infer Taylor's audience and purpose (RL.9-10.1) and then either elaborating on their answers, or identifying the words that help us figure out these elements: "Make me, "O Lord" is a form of address, and as such, the reader can deduce Taylor's audience is God.
We also take a look back at the guided notes, and revisit that Taylor's writing primarily served as a form of pre-write for his sermons. This is an excellent turning point, since students will end class pre-writing their poems, and we will read a sermon tomorrow in class.
Throughout this section, I check for comprehension and pause for students to ask questions. As with the previous lessons on Puritan poetry, I review a lot of terms here that the students already have studied. I can ensure the content is getting presented to the students, fill in any gaps in their memories or previous learning.
Given the breadth of material we are covering in this look, I am pointing students to the information they need to "prove" what the conceit is, in order to go back and create their own example. Additionally, I am directing students to analyze how those choices in structure and rhythm make the poem easier to remember, creating a basic idea from which Taylor drew his own sermons. The annotations on the board provide
We read and explain the directions for the Puritans Plain Style Poem students will be writing. Because many students are often reluctant to write poetry, I provide a previous student-written poem, as a model for students to see what is expected of this assignment. I stress to the students that the purpose is to demonstrate and understanding of how Puritan poets utilize directly stated meaning, simple diction, and references to everyday objects, as well as poetic devices such as conceit, in order portray meaning and tone (W.9-10.3d), and to focus their writing on one central belief (W.9-10.3a).
I draw their attention to the poem sheet, and call on students randomly to read and explain what they think I am asking in each line of the directions. I do note that their belief may be about anything. Like the Puritans, they may share their faith, but, they may also share political stances, favorite sports teams, or that "Pizza is the best food." We are focusing on use of poetic devices, I do not judge the belief they express.
I ask students to create a rough draft of their poems for two days for now. The final copy will be due in one week. Any time that remains in class will be a chance for them to finalize their topics, ask me questions, and draft.
In addition to demonstrating understanding of poetic writing (W.9-10.10), students' poems share their values and beliefs, building the sense of community in my classroom.
Two minutes before the bell, I ask the class, "When is the final copy of the poem due?" in order to see if they were paying attention to the directions before. I also clarify the rough draft is due in two days, and the day the final copy is due, they will be in a computer lab drafting their final copy. In order to make sure students are clear on the due date, as some will have inevitable assumed the final copy is due in two days, or they have a week to write their rough draft. One last clarification gives them a chance to check, and asking for them to all shout it out gives a chance to break the silence from them working independently.