Comparative essay

Essay 3

Write a comparative analysis of four poems, one free verse, one sestina, one sonnet, one villanelle, using three elements of poetry, the same elements, for each poem. Choose from only the poems I send to you, not the poems assigned for reading in the syllabus. You may find the chart I sent earlier in this unit helpful for prewriting for this assignment. Just plug in the four poems you choose from the packet I sent to you, and fill in the table sections for each poem. I’m attaching that chart to the message that accompanies this attachment as well.

Since this assignment has some difference from previous assignments, that is, since you will be analyzing/comparing-contrasting four works instead of two, you may want to read about ‘comparative and analysis’ techniques in your handbook or from the following links:

The general web site for the above, and for all aspects of the writing process, which you may find useful, is:

This assignment includes, after the comparative analysis section of the essay, a closing section for a critical appreciation/response to the poems. Remember, uyou did some critical appreciation/response writing in your annotated bibliography research/assignment.

This essay will be 900-1000 words in length, seven paragraphs, to fully complete the assignment.

Choose from the attached poems for your comparative analysis.

Use the .pdf files “The Elements of Poetry”, “Poetry Overview” and “MeternewPDF for selection of elements for the comparative analysis.

An American D/r/e/a/m/ Pastime

On summer days I squint inside this mask

to see quick motion of a moment, small

then throw myself onto that common field

where wind and sky contend, containing all.

Men wish for home but homelessness endures

unless I fail in my appointed task.

In early March I stepped into my task

took up my armor, first looked through the mask.

A memory of cold, sharp breath endures

regardless of this burn of pain from small

round globes that arc then drop, evading all

my young companions on this far-flung field.

The death of spring did not affect my field

but added bitter dust to my one task

so now I feel a dryness above all

and lose time’s fading blossoms in this mask.

Regardless of a turning world my small

restrictive fenced-in space alone endures.

Homesickness in the midst of play endures

around this clay trimmed, chalk-lined grassgreen field.

I never thought my world could be so small

that keeping men from home would be my task.

I do it without thinking while men mask

that running game still shared among us all.

In grasslot dusk or stadium now all

fair hope, anticipation, fear, endures

these summer hours where, inside the mask

I breathe my special moments on the field.

No signal breaks my focus on the task

the space I must now guard is very small.

Ambitious projects show themselves in small

deceptions carried in the air by all

who want to move me, keep me from my task.

My stubborn stance is firm, my will endures.

Each jarring conflict on my chosen field

convinces me to stay behind my mask.

Inside this mask the universe seems small

my vision of the field enmeshes all

the game endures, the search for home, my task.

At A Supermarket In Auburn, NY

I came here long ago

from where the dark night inside my

child eyes rises

into a lateness of bright daylight.

Down the street, in the Auburn theater,

playing nothing but a shattered marquis,

Fay Wray screams her titillating heart out

in the beast’s great hand.

Dinosaurs, giant snakes, flying reptiles and

The huge gorilla visit me

while I stock chili with beans

and do without,

while that giant,


with its pugilistic hunger

swells into my eyes.

I become

the viewer of my dreams.

I cross continents,

stand in line at metro stops

outside the Prado

while Spain mourns Franco

with Penthouse centerfolds pinned to kiosks,

and cigarettes puffed openly

by boys and girls

who swagger in public.

I walk along the Oporto docks

wondering if Byron

ever stepped the stones

I pass.

I fend off smugglers’ offers of a ‘pistola’

with a feint of my hand

toward an imaginary ’45

under my Mexican serape

and I am afraid.

But then, or is it now,

I stumble into this grocery,

out of April snowflakes,

out of cigarillos,



far from the western sea,

the shack at three a.m.

the Diesel Maintenance Plant in Houston,

the gates of the 3rd. Destacamente

at "El Paraiso" El Salvador.

And here, next to

the Genesee Street Post Office Building,

dedicated, historic,


where Lincoln summoned Seward

at the beginning of the end

of the Confederacy

the giant Paschal cross looms far off

across an empty field just turned green

Its dovish sheen strikes my eyes

I shelter beside granite walls

dedicated to the county dead

named on metal plaques

once shimmering the amber

of honor

where brown layers fester

with green blisters

in the pus of time

while my vision transports the lost

to rest in lists

at a head-tilt’s angle

on glacier-sculpted rocks:

WWI, WWII, Korea

but not Vietnam.

At opposite end of the square

two civil war cannon

fire an eternal salvo

frozen by crystals of white

that muffle ghosts of

explosions in battleground

narcoleptic reveries

before the county courthouse dedicated

to Seward and Tubman.

And on the frost-tinged commons

April snowflakes

confuse a black and white cat

who slinks

toward startled quail

who dissolve in the flight of vision

I gaze down Lake Street

to St. Joseph’s

searching for

the plot of the family drama

My quest for the clay of origins

foiled by the caretaker’s note

"closed due to a death in the family",

I wander a sea of stone, stubble, green moss

bare trees, across long-settled mounds

DeFurios, Bradens, Tamburos,

in the gaze of virgin statues

over winding blacktop roadways

into the rounded markers of centuries

and that child of summer visits

feeling the clench of throat

that preceded any words

voiceless like

the powdered silence of the streets

the wind from the lake

Born again by the steeple

the naked stone altar, the flagpole

received into the granite blanket

and the brass plate

for Corporal Uncle Bill

I turn toward the lake

Where sunset purple eyelids shimmer shut

I leave a handful

of iconic lilies

to face a frozen night overlooking

chisled names of grandparents,

aunts, uncles

I speak through the stone’s

descending shadow:

who will save these

white blossoms

from the chilled night air.


Last night I left you in your pain

The knell of the doorlatch

rang woodenly in its jamb

Across from me on the leather couch

an old life snored

through dreams of another breed

In the tinseled predawn chime

of the thrice-dropped alarm

I woke to an empty thing:


Beyond Thought

He stared upward into the routine sky

a cupped hand muffled yardlights

Gulf clouds rushed to conceal

a yawning moon.

They were ready to settle

into luminous whispers

of reflective insight,

that world and those vapors.


the nightfall lullaby echoed

through the skeleton ribs of trees

and she, on the balcony, watched

the slow progress of love.


from a shadow of confused dreams

the sweetener spilled onto a cold counter

Earl Grey scent remained unaltered.

But from the routine of nightwalks

something lingered in dark passages

of thought.

It was brilliant, outpacing a waxing world

it pierced the usual shroud

escaped the drumroll of winter storms

to deliver two words to him:

“I wonder.”

Dreaming at High Frequency

The years ring true in their cathedric pealing

and emerald the city stretches her gypsy body

through my hunchbacked memory

I pull apart this cathected wound

its burning itch so arc-like on my mind

escapes through ozone-laces in jogged air

In driving rain I roll again today

along the path of least resistance

amperic speed increases with each gear

Once I strode the rooftops with my pouch

clanging dikes and snippers, strippers too

my body sang electric in its wires

O for the hum of the substation

the pulse within that beat of metal heart

insulated, cooled by fans and oil

In the taverns where the strings resound

I sit to ponder outflanked by the stamp

of heeled spirits leapt from stage to side

Mother waits courageously

her faded eyes enfolded in a dream

of missing husband, children, house

And I a wayward once again as always

the guilt-child of my father’s undoing

run like insulated copper through my days

So much jungled in the cities of the part

of each one of us that clashes at night

I wait my adversary moments

If only I could sing the stringed refrain

bring the molten lead upon my head

or Joan-like slip into the flame

But here I stand parking lotted

Umbrellaless in this turn of air

where my ears ring false in their deaf hearing

Full Moon

After the evening storm I stepped outside

to find a clear night sky where clouds once roared

and in it, couched in violet, sharp stars

pierced vision with their remote, ancient light

When I looked up to zenith I found dark

encroached by bright precursors of full moon

and when she burst out from her cloistered place

night gave up all its misted screens to sight

Once again a child, frightened, small

I turned away from heaven, to wet earth

to look on lunar beauty in a pool

of new rainwater unstirred by the breeze

and realized the universe is vast

moonlight is the present, starlight past.

January ‘68

We spent our afternoons avoiding insects

under nets, inside our canvas lean-tos,

caught what sleep our drowsy epithets

permitted after poker, joints or booze.

The tops would take it all in their good stride

except the alcohol: it slurred our speech

when evening roared back down the mountainside

from the sea that broke on China Beach.

Then all night long we gazed out from our holes,

checked our trip-wires, safetys, bayonets,

and hoped that Charlie went the other way.

But when he came head-on it shook our souls,

our teeth and pieces clicked like castanets,

we danced in smoke from darkness into day.

Manis of the Forest

Today again I thought of you back then

your gaze through iron bars into my cage

but only now do I remember when

I understood your life of quiet rage

You see it was not long ago I learned

about that hardwood forest you came from

the one that Singapore at last has turned

into exclusive furniture for home

You sought for mother now I realize

each time I switched the light to give you food

embraced me with long arms and searching eyes

to save yourself from total orphanhood

Each thought I have of you now brings on tears

You forest child lost to me for years.

Origins of A Myth


I come from the house of the dead,

where white roses

sleep like love,

where pink discards

lay helpless on gray concrete

after the black cars roll off.

I come from the stone park,

where marble angels lift

in motionless flight,

where startled deer

run forever away from

noble dogs who patrol

engraved granite.

I come from a fall in grass

down hills of yellowed leaves.

I come from Indian summer,

where I palm a sluggish bee,

a smothered doorbell,

childhood’s sting.

I come from a perch

in a hackberry tree,

where one branch leads

to the sweet hive,

and the other leads back

to the rain-puckered earth

that resists the lawn.


I come from Walnut Hills

above the Ohio river,

where father fled a life of death,

fedora on his brow,

"The Life of Jesus"

a gift from his departing hand,

where his brown eyes glistened

fading words,

where his silhouette settled into

a red-tailfinned

traveling-salesman 1957 Plymouth.

I come from the script

my father left,

where a blue-eyed Jesus

gazes from the page,

a gold-tinged halo

behind his honeyed hair.


I come from the brick-red street,

where a wagon rolls to hell,

where the junkman calls:


in grandmother’s way,

where the bite of leather

on the donkey’s flesh

culls the snort of the beast

who lets go his pungent litany

of animal tears,

where his perked long ears

tremble at each lash,

where he turns his big eye toward me

to shed his black blessing,

where his sure hoofsteps clomp down

Mulberry street,

where his bridled burden

wobbles his cart

to shake cut branches

free from dead leaves,

where old tires tumble like puppies,

over lamps fallen from light,

where the noble dog

with its stone eyes

raises a mute howl

while smoke ascends

from love’s vast crematory.


I come from the parlor of grandfather’s first story,

where Persian carpets complicate the afternoon,

where yesterdays’ rose-petals cower in corners,

where beeswax smokesmell lisps

from crimson-gathered draperies.

I come from the ghost of a Venetian son,

where blind fury squints naptime

onto grandmother’s black shawl,

pulled tight on her shoulders,

while she hisses "shussssssssh!"

from her deft needlework

of slumber and snores.

Will she now rise,

walk to the kitchen,

unfold the card table,

the St. Anthony’s bingo chairs?

Will she spread saucers, silver,

a pile of bleached saltines,

then cut red apples

into beige crescents,

break orange navels,

deliver sticky fruit

into our circle?

Will grandfather re-appear

from the rumble

of the basement lift

after the latch clicks,

to wash and re-wash

at the marbled sink,

to gaze at the mirror

into our faces

the way I look down

from a third floor window

on two ducks

Easter Sunday

nineteen fifty-three,

where yellow puffs circle

their orange tracks

on the pavement below

by the coal-chute door,

gateway to treasures:

shiny knives,


yellowbrown tubes,

thick black gloves,

rubber aprons,

amber bottles,

boar-bristled brushes,

dark red lipstick,

surgical scissors,



I will return to grandfather’s house,

ancient, gray, expecting the worst.

I know I can get there

my directions are here

in my breast pocket.

I come from the third floor of the house of the dead

where Alice of the downstairs, hair knitted in pigtails,

presents her knees beneath gray jumper hems,

and I follow her down to white socks, black shoes,

‘till stacks of comic books tell me she’s gone.

In the name of the Hatter, the Duck, the Rabbit

of ice on the wires,

their trolleys rolled to silence,

of the keeper of ledgers of fathers, of sons,

of rent, tuition, bail bonds and fines,

of the holy coin box outside Sunday mass,

where I re-dream my sins

from incense-hazed pews:


running the aisles,

slapping the arms

of permanent sleepers,

rapt in the dog’s patient gaze.

Passing by Their Lives on a Winter Evening

In memory of Robert Frost,

And a previous, more hopeful


Whose kids these are I do not know

Their lives are precious, new and though

They will see only what they hear

I must help them learn to know

My faded voice may sometime clear

A snow-banked path when they are near

That road that branches into two

In darkness, where they start in fear

They may shake their older thoughts

Someday when standing by town lofts

After they’ve sown what once I reaped

By braving those complaints and scoffs

Their time is lovely, light and deep

But I’ve lost decades now and keep

On reading, grading, far from sleep

On reading, grading, far from sleep.


Was always the start, or end, of a bad day

Mist rising from the bush

Like the smoke and fire we knew would come

Steady sheets blocking the view

Of coastline, mountains, the winding trails

That carried torrents of another type of flood

It was no use pulling ponchos out

They made such noise and flutter

Like quail spooked to low flight by hunters

So we just dug in, bailed, stripped to our tees

After all, what could khaki stop

And camouflage was a joke to their fine sense of smell

They always hit us, back in those days

When the flyboys left us low and wet

A-4’s soaring over Laos, Phantoms to the North

No satellites, no radar, no infra-red

Only the sure sense of their foot

On their land, their trails, their mountains to the sky

Seven Moments


Broad expanse of river turns below.

Silver rails snake sunlight on our eyes.

Union Terminal stands trapped by weeds and time.

Fat cats lounge unmolested in the parks.

Two-thousand year old bricks shed afternoon.

Sagrada Familia spires her Gaudi shadows through the town.

At Avila, a stork’s wide wings encore her tune.


In each passing step I feel thick grass,

I hear the grit of walkways through this place,

I watch two men with shovels dig the earth.

Grandpa ladles olives from the cask,

Prosciutto, melon, saltines mark the spot

across the bridge, in Covington, one lunch.

A chiropractor loosens grandma’s knot.


A carpenter waits without his hammer.

A mechanic stands emptied of his tools.

The climbing ants are steady in ascent

The junk-man passes by me with his cart.

His donkey snorts as tears form in his eyes.

I see my body in his silent stare.

Atop a buckeye tree a robin cries.


The wind brings voices from the field

as sunset stretches tree trunks half a mile.

With dusk, the lights come on for us to play.

A chill enfolds a jersey on the bench.

Popcorn, peanuts, chips forget their place.

A cup meanders emptied of its brew.

Excitement, effort, passion leave their trace.


Each penny shines inside this metal box.

The cardboard sleeves stack coins on other coins.

Mother leaves with brother through the door.

Inside the third-floor flat a puppet lurks.

His Howdy-Doody eyes shift up and down,

while cousins tumble in their daily fight.

Hillbilly miners search for jobs in town.


I Vittteloni rolls across the screen

until we reach the scene where Fellini,

from an open window, says goodbye to youth.

Inside a darkened living room,

all sound recedes and vision flickers out.

When I return, I am not there.

The heavy scent of yeast recalls a Stout.


In August, far above the river’s turn,

a lake expands within a rolling green.

A wooden boat floats, guided by a string.

Father stands above his youngest boy,

adjusts his glasses, thinks about the road,

and calculates the hours before night.

Where coffee, smokes, a waitress share his load.

Sparrow and Thread

Suppose this were Firenze and I the Arno

Would you come to my banks to shed your tears,

and if it were noon would you look to the window,

if you were a white dove held captive for years,

to see me pass by you if I were a sparrow,

and dream of a nest filled with hatchlings and thread.

If I were a needle would you be the thread

stitched into a skirt found left by the Arno.

Or you picked up breadcrumbs meant for a sparrow

would I be the kerchief that captured your tears

Suppose you were sculpting, and studied for years

The David you viewed each day from our window

If I were the sunlight would you be a window

with curtains of linen outlined in blue thread

and I left one morning, reappeared in four years,

would you be a footbridge spanning the Arno

all turned to stone, with pinewood, your tears

frozen to ice like winter’s lost sparrow.

Just say I were spring, and you were a sparrow

beaking your nest outside a high window

only to lose hatchlings, your eyes without tears.

Transformed to a pathway, would you then thread

your way through a dark wood, to return to the Arno

our place of reunion, for so many years.

Say you were a calendar of all coming years

and on your display were a tree-branch with sparrow

and I were that bridge over that same Arno

and you a sad vendor with only a window

for hawking buttons, fabric and thread

to mend up, repair, seams and slight tears

Imagine, at last, a bridge with no tears

where I worked as watchman in my last years

lighting wax candles and pulling the thread

that sounded the chimes that disturbed the sparrow

I dreamed it all when I jumped from a window

opened one morning, overlooking the Arno.

The Arno holds many, their dreams and their tears,

a window that channels the wind of the years

and you are the sparrow , I am the thread.

The Horse Who Looked at Me

“We are all of us horses, to some extent!”

Vladimir Mayakovski

How can I tell

The feeling in your blindered eyes

You constrained one

Standing motionless in humid heat

Waiting for the whip of commerce

To drive you once again

Through these tourist streets

A carriage behind you

And ahead

Another stop, with its passing


When your eye met mine

Was it anger I felt from the reddened rims

Or patient dullness from the hazed corneal glimmer

Or something else, not human at all

That reticence of all others in the face of man

I want to tell you I don’t approve

But I think ‘This is not a bad life

For a horse: food every day and night

A dry stable to sleep in

People to look after you’

But then I think of the open land

That used to stretch beyond the Astrodome,

And the rolling hills cut through by 288

And the building supply store and apartments

That erased the Pin Oak pasture

In this recurrent season

Toads gather at concrete curbsides

Remembering their muddy origins

In a flicker of moon in puddle

And you stand still

Enduring flies

Remembering what horses remember

The Lost


Imagine the roar inside a dumpster

From a thousand little fists of sand

And the hooded man braced against

the hiss of thick hose in his hands

Leather apron flapping in an air-leak breeze

At three a.m. he shuts it down

Climbs to the top to stretch out

His legs, his lunch, his tight-rolled

life-saver, only friend since ‘68

And tokes away with grit in his red beard

Once we traveled together

Green doors open, hopper running

Passing the pipe, thinking peace

And how it rhymed with piece

That reassuring object

Once held against a jungle hell

Come far from his Oklahoma hills

Now he was the night-blaster

And in his gloved fists

All pretense of color and of rust

Blew away as he gunned for bare metal

Half-awake behind his face shield


Voice between a laugh, a scream, a shout

echoes in the main bay, from the pit

where he announces his return to open space

directionless, red-faced, then climbs

into the tool-crib and scoops up bolts, nuts, washers

He moves quickly, shades and all

the mirror of his lenses glinting bright

he plays the metal clicking in his palms

“Sounds a lot like chains” he spurts

into the hum of lathes, of drills and crane

And running ambush down the center bay

he lobs a bolt at the operator’s cab

cracks the shield, outs the light, and screams

“I went straight to court and jail from Nam”

The Melon Men

Those early walks down La Reforma

Took me by their stands

Cries of “Sandia! Sandia!

And “Fresas”, “licuados”

joined with car horns, bus rattles

Truck rumbles

All the roars of a giant

And here, in his ancient throat,

Among orphaned isles

They applied their

Perfect grasp of trigonometry

Their blades sliced graceful arcs

Through melon-flesh

At each tangent

They minutely adjusted their grip

Continued their cut

Until all fine fruit dropped

Sweet and cool and red

Into wooden bowls.

It was then,

at that sacrificial Station,

I felt the terrible weight of my self

Pressed against the unbearable lightness of skin.

The Painter’s Song

Before those night-clouds rolled across her face

A past-full moon approached my east-turned eyes

And treetops leafless, without summer’s trace

Swayed in currents marked by jaybirds’ cries

Those sunset echoes always confuse sense

Of sight and smell within a vapored wind

I thought I saw my shadow on the fence

And waited for my goddess to ascend

But then I lost her in a darkened bank

Where searching gulls called empty to all space

I turned to question, from my water-tank

The brush I held to cover metal’s face

Up here you paint and in the night-time glow

You sing to shadows while the hours go.

The Torturer’s Apprentice

Like you I knew another kind of day,

for each tomorrow must change what once was

and I began this journey young and free.

But that was long ago, today I see

a searching, shaded face beneath each bridge:

a river seeking seas in its own way.

When cooling dawns hint frost is on its way

long shadows lace the brighted face of day.

So once I stood before a darkened bridge

considering each branching tree that was

before my face, but I could only see

a cone-shaped starfilled hat that rested free.

Like these subject to me I would be free

for each must find the path in their own way.

Through pain and anguish father made me see

high dark chromatic windows in bright day.

In lenten muted shades my figure was

stilled at this lightless place before the bridge

I meet some other self upon that bridge

across this gulf between myself and free

and I remember that I always was

a person lost, confused and in the way.

My crimes have met their shadows in bright day

revealing now my face for all to see.

Injector of short dreams, I made men see

a bright and yellow beach instead of bridge

or precipice awaiting each one’s day.

My chief once said I would someday be free

If I extracted nails the prescribed way.

Subservient is what I ever was.

Now all my victims scorn a self who was

constrained, bewitched, disfigured, made to see

the universe a Mosad-SAVAM way.

A figure passed me on a shrouded bridge

and promised yet another way to free

me from this heavy time, my night and day.

Now each fresh day accuses what I was

apprenticed, never free, but now I see

beneath each bridge an abyss: my own way.

Triptych of Time


I dream the sleepless dream of time

From here inside her all-accepting arms

Held her infant grown into my age

When I was then, when was that

Tomorrow? Yesterday?

Or at this dawning light

These stars, this moon, do they appear

Before my present self as they appeared

Today, my infancy, my youth and age?


I sleep the dreamless sleep of time

From a bed of unnamed fears

At floor of ocean currents green

Turned to a darkened window

Cold winter scratching leafless at the pane

I do not sleep this way I am again

Through sleep I lost all memory

Fled to rooftops never stepped

O Round globe of night, forgetful life!


I time my sleepless dream in years

But what are years in this dream, this sleep

Counting moves me through a circle

A circle is a clock without hands

A day a grasp at shadows in the stream

At the moment I will never know

When I became, moon and stars remembered

Only their habits above woods of pine

And cast my tiny shadow faint on grass

Vanishing Point

In a tinker’s streetside shop

the bell of youth muffles beneath felt

the boy fullgrown still counts Orion’s stars

The heavy woolen cloak conceals a weaver’s life

somewhere beyond vision a world congeals

frozen bison nibble icetips from winter wheat

A rooster cries his crystal breath to a cold moon

while the brigade marches through reclaimed ruins

on lifeless legs aglitter in the dark review

The viewer pierces the purple veil

of commerce, war and dust

“All that is solid melts into air.”

And in the toll of time muffled beneath felt

The old man still counts Orion’s stars

walks ghost-dogs over an asphalt dream of death

A clear voice rings on faded ears:

“Draw three lines on this lightless plane

make them touch where all things vanish

there one will find the point of everything”

Walk Spirit Talk Spirit

For McCoy Tyner

The proud game cock deploys an angry beak

Inside the ring, blood spatters, feathers fly

Beware the talons of the seeming meek

The saxophone, the congas, keys of teak

Weave concentric sounds, release their cry

The proud game cock deploys an angry beak

But then the golden horn, with valves so sleek

Whispers a respiration and a sigh

Beware the talons of the seeming meek

And time becomes a thread, a puff of cheek

To thunder back a c-note, clear and high

The proud game cock deploys an angry beak

To walk the walk, baptize beside the creek

Creates a sense and tone that sanctify

Beware the talons of the seeming meek

The soul that stirs from fingered stops to speak

Is punctured, slashed and beat to melody

The proud game cock deploys an angry beak

Beware the talons of the seeming meek

Where Go the Flames of Spring

The Live Oak leaves cluster at curbside

and on the terraced rootwork by the fence

they brown their spring fall into mulch

But for a shovel, youth and time

our sand-stark yard would rest in loam

where fledgling grass could then stand

the drying winds of sun to come

This dark night Magnolia silhouettes

flutter green leafed branches

to escape the looming pines above them

and to evade the long reach of oak limbs

As the Gulf breeze brings a powdered rain

down from Live Oaks into upturned faces

and brings a drowsy dreamview of the scene

Far above, Orion keeps his torso

pointed to northwest

as thin clouds shadow dogs,rams,bulls

and douse the orange-white flames of twins

Last Updated on February 10, 2019

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