1. What do you make of Burns’ style? the way in which he uses language? the words themselves? What do you think he is up to? If one wanted to imitate a “dialect” in a poem today, what type of words and language do you think one could use? Think of various different dialects, colloquialisms and slang in our country, like southern accents, Yankee slang, urban lingo, etc.
2. Describe the dramatic situation in “To a Mouse.” What “tragic” event occurs? How does the farmer who caused the tragic event respond to it? The poet offers a fairly long subtitle to the poem. Why is it really important that the action in the poem takes place in November? Why would the subject matter of the poem be less urgent if it were, say, June.
3. Although “To a Mouse” comes across as a folksy poem depicting a pretty trivial scenario, Burns cleverly allows deep and poignant issues to manifest that have been treated to even epic extents in poetry since the ancient Greeks. Look at the following passage from the poem, and think about enduring life-themes it expresses.
But Mousie, thou art no thy-lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ paiin
For promis’d joy!
4. “A Red, Red Rose” is really the lyrics to a song. Do you think it works on its own as a poem without the music? Do you feel that the poem holds up as a poem? Or do you think it is a bit mawkish, Hallmarky, hokey? If the poem is sappy, do you think that Burns is being intentionally so? Does the sap–the cheesy-factor–veil something deeper? Like the poem, “To a Mouse,” consider the dramatic situation of the poem. What is happening or what may be about to happ
Entry filed under: WEEK ONE.