Second paper

“Pastoral” is a category invented by critics, not poets. Mark Strand and Eavan Boland have made explicit (in the chapter introduction) and implicit arguments about what the category includes—some of them conventional and some of them deliberately provocative.

The second paper asks you to think inductively, that is, to use specific details to derive a more general theory or tendency. Based on the selection in The Making of a Poem, what is the pastoral form—or, what description of pastoral could meaningfully encompass poems written between the 16th and the 20th/21st century? Develop an argument (it need not be a definition of pastoral) based on at least two poems in the pastoral chapter.

Your paper should center around a comparison of at least one poem from each of the categories below.

  1. Traditional pastorals (209-216, Marlowe to Ledwidge)
  2. Newer or ironic pastorals (216-38, Deutsch to O’Malley)*

*You may treat Keats’s “Ode on a Grecian Urn” (214-15) as either category.

The evidence for your argument will come from your analysis of the poems’ subject matter, point of view, tone, and other significant features. Pay particular attention to the themes we have discussed: the representation of wildlife or mythical places, especially in relation to the city or the modern world; time, transience, and eternity; seduction and sex; and the relationship between mind or language and the natural world. Additional research is not required.

The paper must follow MLA guidelines for documentation; line numbers are not generally necessary. I will be much stricter about documentation this time! (The Purdue OWL has instructions for citing anthologies at

Due Friday, March 8, at 9:00 pm. (Submit via Blackboard, email, or my mailbox in Callaway N302).

Length: 5-7 pages.
Worth 15% of your final mark.


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