Write an essay using one of the poems in the packet as a jumping-off

Write an essay using one of the poems as a jumping-off point for further research into a topic the poem addressees. You’ll show how the poem offers insight into the topic, and then you’ll present information and analysis from research that carry this insight further or that complicate what the poems says. For example you could use “Luxury” to explore colonization in the Philippines, the connection between colonization and travel, or people of color in Renaissance painting. “The Men Who Stand the Highway Exits” could lead to an exploration of homelessness among veterans or of the signs used in panhandling. “Citizenship” could lead to an exploration of U.S.-Mexico border crossings or other border crossings. “Bivouac on a Mountain Side” could lead to an exploration of troop movement during the U.S. Civil War or of changes in troop movement gear and methods between the time of the poem and now. The above are just some of the possible research topics the poems touch on. You might think of others that would work well also.


This option must also analyze what the poem says about this issue. Consider: What does the poem say about this topic that the facts and articles you’ve found do not? Why did the poet express this in poem form rather than write a research paper or editorial? What does the poem do that the other sources do not?

Required sources 

  • The poem you’ve chosen from the packet.
  • A minimum of four additional sources, at least one of which is scholarly.
  • You may use more sources if you need them to help your understanding, but don’t try to add sources just to increase your number of sources.
  • All sources should be reliable and professional, though they may be for a popular audience.
  • All the sources should be relevant for the development and support of the thesis.


The members of our class, including the instructor—people who are familiar with these poems, but who might be interpreting them in a different way or looking at them from a different angle.


Does this paper contain your own opinion? The entire analysis is your interpretation of the poems, and so is a product of your brain, of your particular ways of looking. Your thesis contains an idea of your own, an idea you have developed by analyzing and thinking about the texts. This idea is supported by evidence from the texts, and by your analysis and discussion of this evidence.             

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