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���Literal meaning in poetry���

Literal and Figurative Meaning (Summary) and Response ��� Paper One
ENGL 1020 Online, Spring 2017
For this first essay, you will need to summarize and respond to Robert Frost���s ���
.���
Read the poem, consider its meaning, and then consider your response. Next, compose an explanation of the literal and figurative meaning of the poem in the first part

of your essay, as outlined below.

Literal Meaning

Using the ���Literal meaning in poetry��� worksheet on D2L as a guide, write a paraphrase of the literal meaning you see in Frost���s poem, ���Stopping by Woods������ in such a

way that you put the poem’s words in your own words, present the literal (not figurative or metaphorical or symbolic) meaning, end up with approximately the same

number of words as in the original poem, and write in typical, standard English prose.

Figurative Meaning

Using the ���Figurative meaning in poetry��� worksheet on D2L as a guide, write two 7+ sentence paragraphs which define and discuss thefigurative meaning you see in

Frost���s poem in a way that your paragraphs sum up the central figurative idea of the poem, support that interpretation of the figurative idea of the poem with

QUOTATIONS from the poem to back up your ideas, use QUOTATION marks and cite the quotation and, if necessary, use the forward slash between lines of poetry, and write

in standard English prose. These paragraphs are notoffering your personal opinion to a friend but your analysis as an academic, so you should not use the word ���I��� or

informal phrasing in this SECTION.

In your writing in the summary portion of your essay
��� Provide the author and title of the poem, as demonstrated in the example below.
��� Use quotations to support your ideas in the figurative meaning paragraph (quotation marks, citation of lines, forward slashes when needed).
Once you have offered an explanation of the literal and figurative meaning of the poem, discuss your personal reaction to the themes and ideas expressed in the text in

a 7+ sentence, well-developed, thoughtful paragraph. Because this portion of the assignment is reader response writing, you can use ���I��� in your discussion (only in

this portion). Relate ���Stopping by Woods..��� to your own life, experiences, beliefs, etc. How does the poet elicit these emotions or thoughts from his readers? What

SECTIONS of the poem stand out to you and why?
Submission and final comments
Once you have concluded both the summary and response portions of your essay, you are finished. This first essay is not a traditional essay in that it does not require

an introduction, conclusion, thesis statement, etc. Trust me; those are coming shortly. This assignment is designed to help us recognize the differences between

literal (summary) and figurative (analysis) meaning and to begin to consider how a writer crafts words and phrases to elicit responses from his/her reader.

If you have followed directions, your submission should be at least two pages of double-spaced text. Remember to use Times New Roman, 12-point font with 1 inch margins

and to include the header as described in the syllabus.

In terms of grading, I will evaluate your ability to correctly paraphrase Frost���s poem, ���Stopping by Woods,��� to clearly and specifically explain your interpretation of

Frost���s meaning, to utilize the poem���s words as support for that interpretation, and to explain your response to that text using that text���s words and images as the

basis for your response in conversation with your own experiences.

Poetry: Literal and Figurative Meaning (Summary) and Response ��� Paper One
ENGL 1020 Online, Spring 2017
For this first essay, you will need to summarize and respond to Robert Frost���s ���Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.���
Read the poem, consider its meaning, and then consider your response. Next, compose an explanation of the literal and figurative meaning of the poem in the first part

of your essay, as outlined below.
Literal Meaning
Using the ���Literal meaning in poetry��� worksheet on D2L as a guide, write a paraphrase of the literal meaning you see in Frost���s poem, ���Stopping by Woods������ in such a

way that you put the poem’s words in your own words, present the literal (not figurative or metaphorical or symbolic) meaning, end up with approximately the same

number of words as in the original poem, and write in typical, standard English prose.
Figurative Meaning
Using the ���Figurative meaning in poetry��� worksheet on D2L as a guide, write two 7+ sentence paragraphs which define and discuss the figurative meaning you see in

Frost���s poem in a way that your paragraphs sum up the central figurative idea of the poem, support that interpretation of the figurative idea of the poem with

quotations from the poem to back up your ideas, use quotation marks and cite the quotation and, if necessary, use the forward slash between lines of poetry, and write

in standard English prose. These paragraphs are not offering your personal opinion to a friend but your analysis as an academic, so you should not use the word ���I��� or

informal phrasing in this section.
In your writing in the summary portion of your essay
Provide the author and title of the poem, as demonstrated in the example below.
Use quotations to support your ideas in the figurative meaning paragraph (quotation marks, citation of lines, forward slashes when needed).
An Example of the Summary Portion
Literal Meaning of Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” (please note that your assignment is to write about ���Stopping by Woods���)
Two roads split apart in a yellow forest. I was sorry that I could not travel both roads. Since I am only one traveler, not two, I had to choose one of the roads.

Before choosing, I stood for a long time and looked down one road. I looked down that road as far as I could, down to where it curved out of sight in the underbrush.

After I looked down the first road, I took the second road because the second road looked just as fair as the first one. And perhaps the second road had a better claim

since the second one was grassy and not worn. But other travelers had really worn them about the same. That morning, as I traveled, roads equally had leaves on them

that were not blackened. I took the second path, and saved the first road for another day. However, I know that one path leads on to other paths, and since that is

true, I doubt I will ever get back to the first path again. Somewhere, ages and ages from now, I will be telling this whole story again, and will tell it with a sigh:

two roads diverged in a wood and I took the one less traveled by. That has made all the difference.
Figurative Meaning of Frost’s “The Road Not Taken”
Frost���s poem “The Road Not Taken” is about the journeys we take in life and the choices me make on those journeys. The speaker stands in a forest and sees that the

road he is walking forks in front of him. He must make a choice. Like all people, the speaker is anxious about the choice in front of him. He may take one road that

is well travelled or, as he says, “trodden black” (line 12) where the forest’s leaves have been trampled under the many feet of all those who have taken this road

before him. Or, he may take the other road. He leaves the first, the well-travelled road, for “another day” (line 11) when he may return to the first road. Even

though he cannot see the end destination of his choice (the second road) because it turns ahead of him and because it is obscured by the “undergrowth” (line 5), still

he takes it knowing he will never come back to this place, this choice, again. He take the road less travelled by and that makes the difference for him in his life.

In other words, the choice he makes in taking the road less travelled by leads him to places and events in his life that he could never know before-hand. The

traveller, like many of us, knows now that the choices he makes in life cannot be undone and that they lead on to other choices that lead us to a destination that we

could not have foreseen when we first made the choice.
All this takes place in the fall of year since the leaves of the forest lead the speaker to call this forest a “yellow wood” (line 1). This waning season of the year

suggests that the speaker is in the waning years of his life (that is, when he is older) and so suggests that he makes his choice when he is of middle age or older.

Like the speaker, even those who are older–not just the young at high school graduations–must constantly make choices that change the outcome of their lives.
(examples above are from Dr. David White���s ENGL 1020 TN e-campus class)
Second half of your essay (Response)
Once you have offered an explanation of the literal and figurative meaning of the poem, discuss your personal reaction to the themes and ideas expressed in the text in

a 7+ sentence, well-developed, thoughtful paragraph. Because this portion of the assignment is reader response writing, you can use ���I��� in your discussion (only in

this portion). Relate ���Stopping by Woods..��� to your own life, experiences, beliefs, etc. How does the poet elicit these emotions or thoughts from his readers? What

sections of the poem stand out to you and why?
Submission and final comments
Once you have concluded both the summary and response portions of your essay, you are finished. This first essay is not a traditional essay in that it does not require

an introduction, conclusion, thesis statement, etc. Trust me; those are coming shortly. This assignment is designed to help us recognize the differences between

literal (summary) and figurative (analysis) meaning and to begin to consider how a writer crafts words and phrases to elicit responses from his/her reader.
If you have followed directions, your submission should be at least two pages of double-spaced text. Remember to use Times New Roman, 12-point font with 1 inch margins

and to include the header as described in the syllabus.
In terms of grading, I will evaluate your ability to correctly paraphrase Frost���s poem, ���Stopping by Woods,��� to clearly and specifically explain your interpretation of

Frost���s meaning, to utilize the poem���s words as support for that interpretation, and to explain your response to that text using that text���s words and images as the

basis for your response in conversation with your own experiences.
You are required to submit a rough draft to EITHER the tutors in the Academic Support Center in the ERC (3rd floor) OR the tutors on tutor.com (there is login

information for tutor.com on your course list screen when you first login to D2L before you click on our course) for feedback on this draft. Whether you visit a tutor

in-person or seek tutoring online, please bring or send your tutor the assignment sheet along with your draft. Also, let the tutor know what three things you most want

him/her to focus on in their comments.
NOTE: Tutoring is not a proofreading service. The tutor may point out spelling or grammar issues, but proofreading is your job, not theirs. The tutors will focus most

of his/her comments on higher order concerns, such as thesis statements, topic sentences, clarity of ideas, quotation integration, etc.
The tutor will offer comments and suggestions on your draft in order for you to revise and improve the text before you submit it as your final essay. Thus, you should

allow a day or two to use the feedback you receive during your tutoring session to revise your essay. If a tutor points out a significant issue but you do not address

and revise that issue, I will take that into consideration as I am grading.
After your conference with the tutor, you need to create a tutor response document as described in the syllabus. This requisite part of your final essay submission

requires that you write a paragraph which summarizes the issues the tutor pointed out and then another paragraph which outlines how you will use the tutor���s feedback

to improve your essay.
Your final submissions into the Dropbox should include:
A rough draft
Tutor feedback response paragraphs
Final draft
To submit these documents, save your files as a .doc, .docx, .txt, or .rtf files. I cannot read any other format (No .PAGES and no .pdf). It is up to you to submit

your essay in a readable format. Please title the file of your final draft as Paper One, an underline, and then your name. So, if I were submitting the essay, my file

title for my final draft of my essay would be: Paper One_Lynn.docx
Proofread and revise your final essay several times before submitting your work into the Dropbox (now labelled ���Assignments��� in the D2L menu) designated for Paper One

��� Poetry Summary by Monday, February 13th before 11:59pm.

Reading for Figurative Meaning

We should now examine the figurative meaning of a poem.

Figurative meaning refers to the meaning beyond the literal meaning. The figurative meaning of a poem may include
any connotations of words (suggested, implied meanings and emotions that accompany a particular word)–not every word teems with connotations
any images (pictures in the mind) conjured up by the poem or the suggestions the images arouse in the mind of the reader–not every poem will use images
any similes or metaphors (comparisons made by the poem between one thing and another)–not every poem will use images
any symbols (an object standing in the place of or representing an idea)–not every poem will use symbols.

Figurative meaning includes the ideas the poem seems to be suggesting beyond the literal words: conclusions careful readers draw when they read the poem about a wider

or larger meaning of the poem as a whole.

Figurative meaning may also be called the metaphorical meaning or the symbolic meaning. Most poems have at least some figurative meaning involved in them, but not

every poem expresses a deep, theoretical, awe-inspiring analysis for figurative meaning.�� Some poems are simple, short, and mean pretty much only what they say

literally. (English professors are not often very fond of these, as many of you may have learned from years of reading poems in school.)

Let’s use Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” as an example poem to examine for figurative meaning.

We will want to read the poem again.�� (By now you have probably guessed that I seem to think that poems need to be read several times to truly discern their

meanings.)��

The Road Not Taken
by Robert Frost
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
��

Connotations, Images, Similes and Metaphors, Symbols

Some Random Student Thoughts:��Connotations
A road connotes (suggests) a journey, a way of traveling.
Undergrowth connotes (implies) being dense, impenetrable, difficult to navigate through.
“Trodden” is an odd word–it is an old-fashioned word for “stepped on”.

Some Random Student Thoughts:��Images
There is the image of the woods itself–“yellow” and thick with undergrowth
The path (called a “way”) has black leaves in it.
The road forks–an image that suggests a choice in the journey, a decision to be made as to which way to go

Some Random Student Thoughts:��Similes and Metaphors
There don’t seem to be any comparisons between one thing and another, unless you think that the path or road or way is being compared to something else–such as,

perhaps, the journey of life. Or maybe the forest (“yellow wood”) means something more than just a woods.

Some Random Student Thoughts:��Symbols
There don’t seem to be any symbols here, unless the path or road or way represents (symbolizes) the journey of life or maybe the woods stands for something else.

Reading for Figurative Meaning: A Professor’s Reading of “The Road Not Taken” (from Dr. David White)

A first impression of “The Road Not Taken” comes, of course, from the title. The title alerts us to the road that is not taken. Having read the poem many times, we

know that there are two roads mentioned in the poem. So the poet alerts us to the one that is not taken as the important one.

Let’s look at the figurative meaning of the poem in parts again, as we did with the paraphrase, looking for thought units (Perhaps the thought unit are sentences,

perhaps not).

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

The narrator stands in a wood, not an open field. This suggests the idea of being lost or trying to find a person���s way. The woods are called yellow; perhaps this

means that the leaves, not the wood, is yellow. This suggests the fall of the year. Later we see that there are leaves on the ground, again suggesting the fall of the

year. Fall of the year figuratively suggests the fall of a person���s (the narrator���s) life.

We might assume that the path is not just any path, but figuratively a pathway in life. The narrator is taking a journey, and that suggests the journey of life. As we

get several suggestions of figurative meaning (path, journey, choosing paths), the reader becomes more confident that this poem is not a poem about roads or streets or

highways in the woods, but about the choices or paths in life that we journey down.

The narrator can look down the path only a certain distance until the path or road is obscured by the undergrowth in the forest. That is the way paths in life usually

are: we can look down them but only for a certain distance. Figuratively, we can stand and look into the future about the choices we make, but we can���t see the

ultimate goal of any path.

When the narrator says that we can be only one traveler, we can put this with the idea of choices, and we come up with the idea that when we make choices, we wish we

could make a choice and travel that choice out and see where it takes us without having to really take the choice. We can���t come back and re-choose. We can���t choose

both paths. We are each given only one life, not two. We are only one traveler in life. But we would like to take the other pathway, too, just to see where it might

lead us.

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Of the two roads, the narrator takes the second “because it was grassy and wanted wear” (line 8). This suggests that the narrator took the second road because fewer

people had traveled this road. That indicates that he is making a conscious decision to go where other people do not usually go. This suggests something like going

where most other people do not go, making a choice to be different from others, perhaps even rebelliousness.

Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.

Now, looking at the two paths again, the narrator sees that they are actually about the same in terms of how many people have gone down them. This suggests that the

choice the narrator makes is a difficult choice since both paths seem about the same. Or, it suggests that the choice is a choice between paths that are really very

similar. That, too, is the way with choices we make in life: the choices that are difficult are those that seem about the same.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

The narrator consciously chooses not to take the first path and to leave that first path to travel down at some other time. He suggest he will come back later to where

he is now and then make a different choice in life.

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

When we choose one path, that choice sets us up with the consequences of the choice for our entire life. We can never come back and make that choice again. We will

never in the future be able to make the choices that we make today because when we make that certain choice today that means we will not be able to go back and re-do

or re-choose.

For example, if a person graduates from high school and decides to get married rather than go to college straight out of high school, he is making a certain choice.

Never again will he be presented with the choice of going to college straight out of high school. He may later decide to go to college, but he will be going to college

under different circumstances; the person will never be able to choose to go to college straight out of high school. He may later regret his decision and decide to go

to college, but things for him will be different then and going to college several years after graduating from high school will be a very different decision, a choice

different from the one presented to him years before. He has made his choice and must live with the consequences forever.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Long after now, says the narrator, he will be telling a story about his choices. His sigh suggests he will be telling his story with some emotion connected with it. Is

this a sigh of regret? Of the momentousness of the choice? Of a fond remembrance? What this is a sigh of, I am not sure, but his retelling of the choice will be

connected in his mind with some emotion.

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,

These last two sentences are the summary of the poem and the narrator���s situation. He knows that the choice he now makes will carry him far away from where he is now.

Being carried far away may be in miles, or it may be in circumstances.

And that has made all the difference.

His choice has changed his life. Or perhaps it is the choosing that has made all the differences. There are people who don���t make a lot of choices, who are afraid of

choices, and don���t make them if possible. Perhaps it is the fact that he makes conscious decisions that makes all the difference.

The yellow wood of the poem suggests the age of the narrator. The “ages and ages hence” (line 17) suggests time again in the poem. Two references to time suggests that

time figures prominently into the decisions. The narrator may be standing as an older man contemplating the passage of his life and the passing of time.

Some readers may see the poem as a call to rebellion: to do what other people have not done, to choose pathways in life that others have not chosen, to set themselves

apart from others. They may see the poem as a call for others to do the same.

One could also look at the poem and say that the narrator is saying that when we make choices we make choices with very little information about the choices or the

consequences of those choices. Recall that the paths “were really about the same” (line 10). Perhaps the poem is about how our choices are meaningless in terms of how

well we choose.

Thus, an analysis of a text���s figurative meaning is written so that it
sums up the central figurative idea of the poem
supports that interpretation of the figurative idea of the poem with references to the words of the poem
shows a universal application to many people of the particular situation in the poem
uses quotations from the poem (with quotation marks, forward slashes between lines of a poem) to support your ideas��and
is written in standard English prose paragraphs.
Now, we can combine all of that to compose an analysis of the figurative meaning of the poem.�� Keep in mind that this is always one person’s interpretation of the

figurative meaning of this poem.�� There may be many other interpretations of the figurative meaning of this poem.

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