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Paper 2:  A Brief Analysis of a Donne Poem

Due November 17 (200 points)

Choose one of the following poems by John Donne for your paper (provided for you in an elearning file):

“Jealousy”“Change”“Nature’s Lay Idiot”      “The Dream”“Julia”


Your paper will consist of two parts.


Part I:  Annotate.  Copy, cut and paste the poem from the assignment file on elearning, then triple space.  Now “mark up” the poem with any typed or handwritten annotations that would be useful for explaining parts of the poem to another student.  You might, for example, give a definition for an obscure word, indicate the rhyme scheme of the lines, note stress patterns in a representative line or two, point out puns, metaphors, images and multiple meanings of important words.  Note that in the poetry of John Donne, it is always a good idea to be alert for metaphysical conceits and unusual images.  

We will practice annotating poems in class.  You will also find annotations given in The Norton Anthology for many poems, and these can serve as examples.  You may use color coding, lines to point out parallel or connecting elements, or any other marks that appeal to you.  Give a minimum of twenty detailed, informative annotations for your poem.  Annotation should not be definitions for easily accessible words that most students would already know (For example:  frail = weak).  Your goal is to mark the text so that another student, unfamiliar with the poem, would be aided substantially by your work.  50 pts.


Part II:  Analyze.  Write a detailed analysis of the poem (3-4 pages typed, double spaced, 1″ margins).  An analysis is an attempt to break a poem into its component parts so as to provide some explanation of its meaning and how it works.  Your analysis should begin with a heading (Your name, name of course, my name, date) and title.  In your first paragraph, identify the poem by full title and author, briefly summarize the poem’s content, and give a thesis sentence stating the main point you want to demonstrate about the poem.  The remainder of your paper will develop your thesis, providing support with numerous specific references to the poem (but no long quotations from it).  Your analysis will be based upon the discoveries you made when preparing annotations for the poem, but you should not merely repeat your annotations in your analysis.

This assignment is meant to engage students in a close reading of the poem.  You will not need to consult any source except your book and a good dictionary.  (You cannot always trust the first definitions you find.  Words may change meanings or have more than one relevant definition.)  If you do use outside sources, however, you must document them in your text and in a separate Works Cited page.  150 pts.



1.  Use MLA format for your one-page analysis.  (Google MLA format for help.)

2.  Note right and wrong ways to introduce your topic.

Right:In “The Dream,” by John Donne, the poet presents a picture of . . . .

Right:  In John Donne’s “The Dream,” the author uses . . . .

Right:  “The Dream,” by John Donne, has images of . . . .

Wrong:  In John Donne’s “The Dream,” he uses . . . .

(“Donne’s” is an adjective.  “He” cannot replace an adjective, only a noun, like Donne).

3.  Do not underline your title or put it in quotation marks or all capital letters.

4.  The titles of poems are enclosed in quotation marks, not underlined or italicized.

5.  Always place commas and periods inside quotation marks.

6.  Grammar counts.  Use complete sentences, correctly spelled words.  Proofread carefully.


7.  Quote exactly when referring to the poem.  Omit end punctuation in your quote, as needed to make quotation fit smoothly into your sentence.

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