For this discussion, read the two odes by Dryden found in the Learning Resources for Week One: “A Song for St. Cecilia’s Day” and “Alexander’s Feast; or the Power of Musique. An Ode, in Honour of St. Cecilia’s Day.” You should also read through the other supporting materials that can help you with your analysis.
You will be comparing and contrasting the two poems. First, post the thesis (main idea) of each poem, as you understand it to be. Then discuss one item you find similar (other than each poem’s being written in honor of St. Cecilia’s day) in the poems and one item you find dissimilar. Look not only at each poem’s subject matter, but consider also each one’s structure and use of poetic devices as mentioned in the readings on Restoration and Poetry, such as the use of rhyme, meter, caesura, etc.
If you are not familiar with analyzing poetry at this level, you could consider Dryden’s use of imagery or symbolism. The operative word in the previous sentence is the conjunction “or.” You should not attempt both because your response should be only three to four hundred words.
As you work through the items in the two poems, try to come to some sort of conclusion about them. Look for an “aha” moment in your exploration: that moment when you have broken down the barriers of the poem’s complex language and stylistic format and have received an insight into the poems.
Keep focused on one item in each poem as much as possible; for example, if you are writing about the imagery in one, write about imagery in the other. Don’t expect to cover everything in these very complex poems. Your fellow students will also be writing on the poems, and by the end of the discussion we probably will cover everything! Also keep in mind that there is no right or wrong answer here. You want to spend some time on and take the opportunity of digging into Dryden’s complex poetic style so that you become comfortable with it. It is very important that you first do the summary and narrowing of the poem’s thesis.
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