When you look at the lyrics to a song you like, they resemble poetry, but are th

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When you look at the lyrics to a song you like, they resemble poetry, but are they Poems with a capital “P”? Here’s where the notion of the Literary Canon can a troubling one to English scholars at all levels. What determines a work of art as Genuine? Official? Beautiful? Explore the notions of the Canon by exploring how poetry’s conventions are used in the very music we listen to everyday. Your mission is to select a canonical poem from our textbook, Premier Book of Major Poets and compare it to song lyrics of your choice. You are arguing for the artistic legitimacy of the music of your times. The parts: 1) 4-5 page comparison. Your thesis will argue that your song’s treatment of something in the human condition rivals that of your poem. You should explicate your insights: the poem and song’s similarities/differences in theme, style, subject matter, attitude or a combination. Point out specific uses of poetic devices: alliteration, ambiguity, assonance, etc. Importantly, though this essay is short, your interpretation of the poem and song should be clear and your claims defended with the language of the works themselves. 2) 1 copy of the poem, its title and the poet’s name, typed out exactly as it appears in the anthology. 3) 1 copy of the song’s title, lyrics and songwriter’s name. The lyrics should be typed out exactly as they appear online or in the liner notes, if available. Getting there There are a couple of approaches to this project that might be helpful. 1. Consider the music first. Examine a song’s lyrics seriously to see if they have any more depth than what you interpret upon a first read? Love game intuition, play the cards with spades to start And after he’s been hooked, I’ll play the one that’s on his heart This stanza from Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face,” plays on the extended metaphor of human behavior resembling a card game. Not bad. Whereas there’s not much to say about the maudlin hyperbole from “My Heart Will Go On”: We’ll stay forever this way. (Really? Uh, bathroom breaks?) You are safe in my heart. (…hard to breathe inside your organ, yo.) And my heart will go on and on. (Yeah, no it won’t.) 2. Another approach might be to read the poems in the anthology first. See if you’re struck by the similarity they have to a song you know. Note that the text’s poems are grouped by themes. Possible groups/songwriters to consider: Beatles Van Morrison Ed Sheeran (some) The Who Fiona Apple UB40 Hole Ani DiFranco Jay Ferrar Steve Earle Steely Dan Bob Dylan Suzanne Vega Silverchair Tracy Chapman Paul Simon Smashing Pumpkins U2 Bruce Springsteen REM Wilco Bell & Sebastian Kendrick Lamar Tom Waits Joni Mitchell The Clash Talib Kweli Sonic Youth Elbow Beck Neil Young Green Day Foo Fighters Dandy Warhols Ween Considerations: The hardest part of the project for many will be making your selection. Avoid a song that’s too ambiguous and/or impenetrable (Stevie Nicks, Led Zepplin, Tori Amos). Furthermore, avoid the K-pop, Kenny Chesney, Britney Spears, cliché factory. A song you love may be a wonderful for reasons other than what’s expected of great poetry. That’s the challenge. Do not use any secondary sources and avoid any biographical information as a claim for the author’s intent. The writer’s life is immaterial to the lens you’re using here. This is Reader Response criticism in the strictest sense. Remember it’s not why s/he wrote it, it’s what do the words convey? Your paper will be assessed on your ability to demonstrate: 1) balance in your comparison thematic inference between two works stylistic inference/application of prosody differences between the two poems ambiguities/multiplicity of meaning where appropriate Depth of explication to support your positions An understanding and defense of song lyrics as worthy of the Literary Canon You will not be able to revise this essay, so use the opportunities to have outlines and drafts looked at by me and by our Writing Lab tutors. You cannot use any poem we have analyzed in class. Other titles you cannot use are “Report of Health,” “Brooding,” “We Wear A Mask,” “A Young Wife.” Due: 12/13, 4-5 pages, not including Works Cited, poem and song lyrics and optional title page. The song I chose was River by Bishop Briggs. These are the lyrics. Like a river, like a river, sh- Like a river, like a river, sh- Like a river, like a river Shut your mouth and run me like a river How do you fall in love? Harder than a bullet could hit you How do we fall apart? Faster than a hairpin trigger Don’t you say, don’t you say it Don’t say, don’t you say it One breath, it’ll just break it So shut your mouth and run me like a river Shut your mouth, baby, stand and deliver Holy hands, will they make me a sinner? Like a river, like a river Shut your mouth and run me like a river Choke this love ’til the veins start to shiver One last breath ’til the tears start to wither Like a river, like a river Shut your mouth and run me like a river Tales of an endless heart Cursed is the fool who’s willing Can’t change the way we are One kiss away from killing Don’t you say, don’t you say it Don’t say, don’t you say it One breath, it’ll just break it So shut your mouth and run me like a river Shut your mouth, baby, stand and deliver Holy hands, will they make me a sinner? Like a river, like a river Shut your mouth and run me like a river Choke this love ’til the veins start to shiver One last breath ’til the tears start to wither Like a river, like a river Shut your mouth and run me like a river Like a river, like a river, sh- Like a river, like a river, sh- Like a river, like a river Shut your mouth and run me like a river Hey! Oh, oh-oh-oh, oh! Hey! Oh, oh-oh-oh, oh! (like a river) Hey! Oh, oh-oh-oh, oh, oh! Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh! (like a river) Like a river Shut your mouth, baby, stand and deliver (like a river, like a river) Holy hands, will they make me a sinner? (like a river, like a river) Like a river, like a river Shut your mouth and run me like a river Choke this love ’til the veins start to shiver (like a river, like a river) One last breath ’til the tears start to wither (like a river, like a river) Like a river, like a river Shut your mouth and run me like a river The poem I was thinking is Then and Now by Paul Laurence Dunbar. Then He loved her, and through many years, Had paid his fair devoted court, Until she wearied, and with sneers Turned all his ardent love to sport. That night within his. chamber lone, He long sat writing by his bed A note in which his heart made moan For love; the morning found him dead. Now Like him, a man of later day Was jilted by the maid he sought, And from his presence turned away, Consumed by burning, bitter thought. He sought his room to write – a curse Like him before and die, I ween. Ah no, he put his woes in verse, And sold them to a magazine.

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