Monday, November 28, 2016

Dr. Stapleton    ENG L309   Spenser Exam   28 November 2016

You should approach your assignment in the same way that I suggested you interpret your midterm.  Examine The Faerie Queene 12.1-14 (pp. 920-22 in your book) and relate details from the stanzas to the rest of the text in a meaningful way. 

Frequently, those who study FQ tend not to read the last canto very carefully and tend to discount its effects and poetics.  Your job is to explain why this is a mistake, using those fourteen stanzas as evidence. You can talk about whatever you like: lines that seem to reticulate to other parts of the poem or that “say” the text as a whole; people who don’t seem important; events that appear to be gratuitous; how the sounds and metrics accentuate or enhance Spenser’s narrative via mimesis (i.e., Aristotle’s word and concept μίμηση).

Your Spenser exam is due by 9 a.m. on Monday 12 December. I do not return finals or write comments on them.

Carpaccio, St. George and the Dragon (1502), Scuola di San Giorgio, Venice

Monday, October 3, 2016

L309 Midterm

Dr. Stapleton First Exam

Not at the first sight, nor with a dribbed shot,
Loue gaue the wound, which, while I breathe, will bleede;
But knowne worth did in tract of time proceed,
Till by degrees, it had full conquest got.
I saw and lik'd; I lik'd but loued not; 5
I lou'd, but straight did not what Loue decreed:
At length, to Loues decrees I, forc'd, agreed,
Yet with repining at so partiall lot.
Now, euen that footstep of lost libertie
Is gone; and now, like slaue-borne Muscouite, 10
I call it praise to suffer tyrannie;
And nowe imploy the remnant of my wit
To make myselfe beleeue that all is well,
While, with a feeling skill, I paint my hell.

1. Explicate the sonnet above, Sidney’s Astrophil and Stella #2. Simply paraphrasing it into your own words will not be sufficent. To explicate means to explain and analyze the poet’s effects, which will enable you to demonstrate your newfound knowledge about how those like him do their work: structure, rhetoric, rhyme scheme, “matching” rhymes, meter and metrical diversity, tone, emotion, allusion, diction, puns, wordplay.

2. You’ve now read other writers of the period, such as Gascoigne, Wyatt, Skelton, Dowriche, Lok, Whitney, and Surrey. What traditions or conventions do Sidney and his predecessors have in common? What seems different? Be specific.

3. As a refresher, here is my section on analytical writing from my webpage that I’m sure you’ve seen before. Let it be your guide:

Its most important section:
Always a) Analyze your quotations. Find words, phrases, or general ideas in your citations that you can discuss and relate to your premises; b) avoid the simple paraphrase of a character’s words into your own, unless the actual meaning of a passage is in question and at issue; and, most crucial, hardest to master, c)cite only as much as you are prepared to discuss thoroughly, and no more. Keep those quotations SHORT.

4-5 pp. Due Friday 7 October by 9 a.m. via email

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Anne Dowriche

Are you, as readers, friendly to her poetry?

A terrific portrait from 1567, which might be of Catherine Willoughby (1519-80) or her daughter. She was married to Henry VIII's friend and brother-in-law, Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk.

The event Anne Dowriche describes in Bloody Marriage, Butcherly Murder, was a horrific event indeed, the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre of 1572.  I want you to do a simple thing. Read as much of the long poem as you can, choose no more than two lines that you think are good poetry, and write a detailed paragraph explaining why. If you could be done with this by next class period, wonderful.


“Where lifting up his voice, so that the King might hear,
These words he spake before them all, devoid of fainting fear:”
(Loughlin et al. 635)
These lines have a refreshing simplicity to them where they say a lot without too much effort. The meaning is clear to understand, that the speaker is unconcerned with how he appears in front of the king and is intentionally challenging him, which is a powerful image all on its own. With just these few words Dowriche creates a clear characterization of the speaker as someone who has seen atrocities and is willing to stand up to a lord as high and powerful as the king. The final few words, “devoid of fainting fear,” also directly relates to the ending of the first line, “so that the king might hear,” in more than just completing the rhyme but also clarifying that the challenge made is not a slight underhanded comment to potentially be overheard, but is in fact a bold declaration made without fear, thus leaving no room for misinterpretation but rather solidifying the reader’s understanding as the speaker has solidified his stance against the king.

"The King doth threaten death, and God doth threaten Hell,
If for the King I should forsake my God, should I do well?" (699-700)

    These two lines are good poetry because they show the conflict between following  earthly or heavenly authority. This quote is spoken by De Nance, the head of the royal guard. He is ordered by  King Charles IX to kill Count Rochefoucauld, however he defiantly refuses. As the example above shows, he is conflicted between obeying his king and obeying God. He knows that what they are doing is sinful, but he is also a servant of the king. If he disobeys the King, he dies. If he murders innocent people, he goes to Hell. The last line is a little sarcastic, with De Nance asking if he should do a good job since he is forsaking God to follow the King. This shows that he is a man who is willing to stand up for his own values. Even if it will cost him his life

“There is a subtle vein that feeds this cankered sore, /For now the deeper it is lanced it riseth still the more.” (25-26)

                I have chosen this couplet as good poetry for their use of imagery to reflect the tension during the massacre.  The author of this piece has crafted these lines as a metaphor for the ongoing fighting and tension. This can be found within the lines themselves. The first line gives us the image of a sore, but no ordinary sore, this one is cankered. Leading to this sore is a “subtle vein” (25), this use of subtle creates a contradiction. The opposition of a “subtle vein” leading to a “cankered sore” creates the tension in the line between these two images. Sore is a word that sticks out because one does not get a sore overnight. A sore is a wound that builds up over time which is what the author wants the reader to notice. This is a problem which has been festering over time.  The second line invokes the feeling of the couplet. The couplet gives the reader a sense of hopelessness while conveying the overall tone of the poem. Tension is found in the second line due to the sore being “lanced” and still “riseth” even when it is cut or pierced the sore continues to grow.  There are all of these horrible things happening, but every attempt to stop the massacre was futile.  The second line serves as the anchor of this couplet, finishing the idea created at the start of the couplet.

I see a lot of play with the role of the King and how this affects the outcome of the war at hand. Line 17, makes it seem like when good intentions are the prime purpose of each person of power, Satan swoops in to “vex” them. This goes hand in hand with God using Kings to do his bidding and to follow him. It’s a fight to the finish and it seems in this story, Satan is the one pulling through with the men in question. Line 74, correlates with this idea that they are all so easily conquered by him and in this case, were actually willing to follow his lead. These two lines show the deception in the poem and how wrongfully led the people are. No one is safe from this evil and this shows that the powerful are a strong start to corrupting the general public and leading them down the path that they have no real choice in.

The Mother Queen in this must also play her part,
That no suspect of treason may remain within their heart. (57-58)

            These two lines indicate that there is a coup being planned. The Council agreed to pretend to succumb or yield to the rising force, which was the only way because two civil wars have already happened, and a third is a close possibility. The king must make it appear that he has come to the side of Christendom. He knows that he has to smile, pretend and entertain and the Queen must do the same.


“I will,” said he, “forget, yea pardon and release
All former griefs, so that you will now yield to have peace. (79-80)

These two lines indicate that the King is saying yeah man lets forgive and forget. Let us let the past be in the past so we can move on to bigger and better things. All the while the King is plotting in his mind to not live up to his word. DOUBLE CROSS



Within the poem Bloody Marriage, Butcherly Murder written by Anne Dowriche, the couplet that stood out to me the most was, “A secret thing I have bethought which here I will / bewray:” (37-38). The poet first catches the attention of the reader in the couplet prior to this one which addresses the audience directly, thus, forging the notion that what is to be said next is especially noteworthy. Following these lines, Anne Dowriche entices the reader with talk of secrets which she intends to reveal in the remainder of her poem. The added alluring aspect that a secret brings to the poet’s work does a wonderful job of not only catching the attention of the reader but also implying a great importance to the remainder of her poem. Due to the attractive aspect that revealing a secret brings to the reader, these two lines serve as an example of good poetry as they catch the reader’s attention and make them eager to read on.

“It galled him to the heart, that where he did devise
To choke the word that even there more it did arise” (19 & 20)

The first aspect of these lines that stood out to me was their sound. Although the word galled means to annoy or to rub harshly, galled is also a rather harmonious word within the poem. The writer uses this contrast to explain the kings annoyance while also making her own approval of his annoyance known. The awkwardness of the word galled also adds to the illustration of the king’s bewilderment that the very word he is suppressing is not only the word that is surviving but is the word that is growing as well.I think the feature of these two lines that I appreciate the most is the author’s use of better. I don’t know enough about meter to elaborate I just know that as a reader I enjoy it. I also assumed that the speaker is using “the word” to refer to the Word of God. Therefor, I appreciated the authors words in line 20 because this aligns with scriptures continues history of being suppressed yet seizing to die out. I also think it is interesting how obvious the author declares her allegiance too annoying the king. Even though she is a woman she is not afraid or intimidated. 

Elizabeth, Lindsay

“Where from his wounded head sprang out so fresh a flood, / That vizard-like his face was all imbrued with gory blood” (613,614).
I chose these 2 lines of poetry as an example because of the brilliant use of imagery. Dowriche paints a gruesome image of the slaying of the Admiral. After his corpse is tossed from the window, she describes him in distressing detail. She emphasizes the blood by comparing the head wound to a springing flood. Then she furthers the graphic image by stating his face was now masked from the stains of “gory blood” (614). He is unrecognizable, and he is dirtied by their wrongs. It is grisly, to be sure, but that is the purpose of the lines. Dowriche is attempting to draw attention to the horrors of their crimes against the Protestants forces. They are slaying guiltless individuals and staining them physically (with blood), and perhaps metaphorically by implying they soil their pureness. She spares no details in how they murdered him because she wants to stir the readers’ emotions. These lines are a good representation of the cruelty and atrocity the narrator wishes to express. Dowriche is using very clear and memorable images to make a point to the readers. Most importantly, the graphic images invoke feeling and reaction which is vital aspect to poetry.

“’There is a subtle vein that feeds this cankered/ sore,/ For now the deeper it is lanced it riseth still the/ more.’” (25-26)

            The reason why these particular lines are important is because they foreshadow what is to come. The poem is about a bloody murder, this we already know before reading the first few lines. Within these lines, we know that there is a foe afoot, that is as the lines suggest, “this cankered/ sore,/”. No matter how the forces fight against this enemy, they still rise up as if they have not been beaten down, nor has any metal in their armor been penetrated beyond fixing. To describe your foe, or opposing force, as a sore is a very deep insult, one administered for an enemy of extreme calibration. These two lines are dripping with pure hatred for the opposing force, there is not one nice thing said. By reading these two lines and noting their importance within the poem alerts the reader of circumstances that will become reality very soon.   

Monday, September 12, 2016

L309 First Writing Assignment

Dr. Stapleton ENG L309 First Assignment   9 September 2016

Besides learning about sixteenth-century English literature, the purpose of the course is to develop your analytical reading and writing abilities. In my profession, we make arguments, present evidence, and organize our findings so that we contribute something new to scholarship in a particular area. To these ends, the exercise to be performed is to analyze Wyatt’s poem “Of the Courtier’s Life Written to John Poins” in your anthology (197-99). Please avoid listing, summarizing, and making needless general statements about life and literature. I’d really enjoy seeing what you can do and hearing about what you think. You’re welcome to bring our other reading to bear on the topic as well.

Wyatt writes most of this text in the second person, and uses a fairly steady rhyme scheme and metrical pattern. Your job is to account for the poet’s effects, whatever you think they are, and to take a position on what you think the poem is doing.  Avoid value judgments (the poem is good; the poem is bad; I believe; I think). You might concentrate on the significant use of sound, tone, attitude, psychology and rhetoric (i.e., structure). Choose brief passages that make your points and show us why they do. Find one slightly longer passage and explain why it is of particular significance.  A poem is usually dramatic, in the sense that it was intended and designed to be read, spoken, or performed aloud. You might account for these elements. If you were teaching someone to deliver “John Poins,” what specific things would you emphasize? What directions would you provide?

My Writing Handouts page on my teaching website provides a great deal of help to those who seek it. The Writing Papers section explains what we do in a general way. The sections on Analytical Writing, Avoiding Needless Repetition, and Lead-ins and Quotations are highly recommended. Crucial: the “In Medias Res” section of the Writing Papers handout. Build your paper from the inside out. Specific is good.

Your essay should be 4-6 pp., double-spaced. No other question of formatting need concern us now. You may indicate line numbers in parentheses.  Please see the section on the Writing Papers page about how to quote poetry.

The paper is due Friday, 30 September, by 9 a.m., by email. Late papers = F. Strictly enforced, non-negotiable. I’m more than happy to discuss your paper or writing at any time possible. Email is fine, and the office is better. The best news is that you may REVISE this paper, the revision due at any time before the due date for the final take-home exam-paper, 12 December.

Required: for revision, office conference. Like your grade and attendance, non-negotiable.

ENG L317 / B627 : Early Seventeenth-Century English Poetry Spring 2017