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



comparative essay