Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Teasdale & Rossetti

I'm working on your 4.A essays, should have them back to you tomorrow. They're generally pretty good, but so far, no nines.

Some things I was looking for:

The trek up/over the hill as a metaphor for one's journey through life: death at the top in Rossetti; death at the bottom of the other side in Teasdale. (Without this central idea, you could not score higher than a 5.)

Rossetti's poem is a conversation between two people of indeterminate gender, in the 2nd person, that takes place before the journey commences. The questioner is hesitant, anxious; the responder is confident, reassuring, experienced. No specific obstacles are mentioned, although the questioner's anxiety hints that the journey may not be without difficulty.

Teasdale's poem is told from a woman's 1st person perspective, past the climax of the journey, approaching the end. The tone leans towards a resigned, yet resolute attitude, possibly relieved that the rest of the journey will be easier, or else with a feeling of "it's all downhill from here." Either way, the speaker continues moving forward, as there's no purpose in going back. Brambles have consistently made her journey difficult, although not impossible, and distracted from any pleasure she would've experienced.

It was a pretty simple comparative task...take a look at some more samples:

A blog entry on Hill poems. Not really AP analysis, just an interesting perspective from the POV of a cancer patient.

Sample essay below: This would be scored a low 5 for AP work.

The journey of life can be described in many different types of literature; poems are the choice of many writers. Sara Teasdale’s poem “The Long Hill” and Christina Rossetti’s poem “Uphill” reflects their views on the journey of life. Although both poets write about the journey of life, Teasdale approaches the topic on a more pessimistic note describing life as a hill where nothing good comes from the way down, whereas Rossetti presents her thoughts in an optimistic tone showing life as a journey where a person looks forward to finding the end.

One difference in Teasdale and Rossetti’s poems is the way they were written. Teasdale writes using a stream on consciousness, this enables the reader to relate to what is going on in the poets mind, and decide if they feel this way. Rossetti however writes using conversation between two people, creating a story line which is easier to follow than the Teasdale poem.

Another difference in these poems is the use of imagery. Rossetti brings imagery into her poem by using such lines as “A roof for when the slow dark hours begin” and “May not the darkness hide it from my face”. Imagery creates a setting for the reader to relate to. Teasdale doesn’t use much imagery, she instead lets the reader use their imagination.

Perhaps the biggest difference in these poems is the outlooks on life that they present. Teasdale has a more negative approach to life then Rossetti has. Teasdale describes the journey as long in her title. She uses a line “Now I am going down—Strange to have crossed the crest and not to know” that shows that nothing good is to come from life after you have past the crest. She writes her poem in first person which says that the journey will be lonely with no one to help along the way. She ends with, “But it’s no use now to think of turning back, The rest of the way will be only going down” saying that its to late to enjoy anything she will live in sadness. Rossetti however chooses to use a more positive approach. She believes that she is traveling with people, “Shall I meet other wayfarers at night? Those who have gone before.” She asks, “Shall I find comfort, travel-sore and weak” this shows her curiosity for what is to come. She ends her poem by saying “Yea, beds for all who come” this shows that when the journey is completed she will get to be comfortable and relaxed with everyone else who is already there.

Teasdale and Rossetti’s poems are written about the same topic, however portray a different meaning. They differ from the way they were written. Rossetti uses imagery to get her point across whereas Teasdale chooses to let the reader use their imagination. Rossetti uses an optimistic approach in her journey of life, whereas Teasdale uses a pessimistic approach.


JimD said...


I couldn't resist making a comment on your blog. I'm the cancer patient cited in this post. In an odd fluke of timing, I set up Google Analytics on my blog what must have been moments before this post linked to it. So when I saw this blog mentioned I had to check in.

While I'm dropping by I can't resist making just a couple of comments on the essay. Where Sara Teasdale's poem conveys little hope, Rossetti's poem has a resolute, positive ending that is born of her religious views. The whole poem is essentially an allegory for the journey of life. It's very much a product of her time and environment - that stiff upper lip, British tone of soldering on for the sake of duty.

The emotional response created by both poems is, of course, what struck me. They both set a tone in the opening lines and then give their real message at the end with what, in a joke, would be a punch line.

This construction was used to great advantage in another of my favorite poems by Teasdale - Indian Summer. It ends with the line "As those who part look long in the eyes they lean to / Lest they forget them.” Many would think this sort of poetry is sappy but I am quite a sucker for it.

By the way, Christina Rossetti was the sister of the brilliant Pre-Raphaelite artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti. There's a very interesting biography of her entitled "Learning not to be first" by Kathleen Jones - just in case you're absolutely stuck for reading material over the winter break.

Happy holidays, everyone. Wishing you a wonderful year in 2009.

Anonymous said...

this really helped me out with my english. thank you for the blog!