Annotation Project
Go to the poem

Annotation Project: Due October 24

Instructions: Respond to the following five questions.

Please type.  For each question that you answer start a new page (e.g. question 1 might take up one or more pages, the begin question 2 on a new page, etc.).  Label at the top of each new page or set of pages which question you are responding to.

1.  Explain any unfamiliar historical or geographical references in the poem as well as any unfamiliar words (even if the word is familiar to you, explain a word you think some other general adult reader might not know).

2. Explain any words, phrases, or sentences in the poem that are at first difficult to construe (e.g., because the syntax is unusual, words are elided, or references are left ambiguous).  Paraphrase them into standard English.  Note any points at which, because of ambiguous syntax, there could be more than one meaning.

3. Pick 5 words that are rich in precision and/or ambiguity. Give possible definitions of each word and suggest why the variations are important.

4. Pick three figures of speech (e.g. metaphors, similes, images or symbols) in the poem and explain their significance.  Why is this figure of speech chosen to represent its subject?

5. What chains of repeated or opposing words, ideas, or figures of speech can you find in the poem?  Show three such subgroupings.

Your responses can take this form: relevant word, phrase or sentence in the poem, a colon, and then the annotation.  Here is an example of responses to question 3 for "Dr. Sigmund Freud Discovers the Sea Shell."

3.  Words rich in Precision and/or ambiguity

simple: could mean not complex (there are no ambiguities about life as seen through the eyes of science), or simple-minded or simplistic (science is incapable of appreciating the complexity that underlies existence).
cell: could refer to the room of a hermit or holy person, but it might also imply a mind trapped or imprisoned in a small space.  There might be also a hint of the cell the biologist studies (e.g. the knowledge of "how every living thing was fathered" mentioned in line 5).
Dr. Sigmund Freud Discovers the Sea Shell

Science, that simple saint, cannot be bothered
Figuring what anything is for:
Enough for her devotions that things are
And can be contemplated soon as gathered.

She knows how every living thing was fathered,
She calculates the climate of each star,
She counts the fish at sea, but cannot care
Why any one of them exists, fish, fire or feathered. 

Why should she? Her religion is to tell
By rote her rosary of perfect answers.
Metaphysics she can leave to man:
She never wakes at night in heaven or hell 

Staring at darkness.  In her holy cell
There is no darkness ever: the pure candle
Burns, the beads drop briskly from her hand. 

Who dares to offer Her the curled sea shell!
She will not touch it! knows the world she sees
Is all the world there is! Her faith is perfect

And still he offers the sea shell . . . 
     What surf
Of what far sea upon what unknown ground
Troubles forever with that asking sound?
What surge is this whose question never ceases?









Paraphrase lines 3-4

Paraphrase line 8

Paraphrase lines 9-10

Paraphrase line 21


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