Tapestry of Faith: Exploring Our Values Through Poetry: A Program for High School Youth

Alternate Activity 2: Perfect And Imperfect Love

Activity time: 20 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Handout 2, "To a Young Girl," by William Butler Yeats
  • Handout 3, ".05," by Ishmael Reed
  • Journals and pen or pencils

Preparation for Activity

  • Photocopy Handouts 2, "To a Young Girl" and 3, ".05," one for each participant.

Description of Activity

Participants analyze two poems-one from the beginning of the twentieth century and one from the end of it-that paint different pictures of love.

Introduce this activity by noting that love is a topic about which almost every poet writes. Tell the group that they will look at two very different poems about their experiences in love. Distribute copies of Handout 2, "To a Young Girl" and Handout 3, ".05." Ask for volunteers to read the poems aloud, allowing thirty seconds of silence to pass after each reading.

Lead a "What do we have here?" discussion. Use these questions:

  • What is the story behind the poems?
  • In Yeats' poem, who is the speaker? Who is being addressed? Who else is in the poem, and how are all the people connected?
  • How are the poems similar in style? How are they different in style?

Lead a "What's the big idea?" discussion by asking:

  • Is the speaker in Reed's poem just talking about his lovers or is he using the poem as an opportunity to comment on something else? What?
  • By reading the poems, can you tell something about the speakers?

Ask participants to generate ideas about what these two poems have in common and how they are different-in both subject and style. Distribute pen/pencil and journals. Invite participants to either rewrite Yeats' poem in a Reed-like style or rewrite Reed's poem in a Yeats-like style. Reserve at least five minutes for participants to share their work at the close of the session.