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TP-CASTT Poetry Analysis

Pre-AP English 2 A TP-CASTT example
by

Micki Clark

on 29 January 2011

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Transcript of TP-CASTT Poetry Analysis

TP-CASTT TP-CASTT is a method for reading and analyzing poetry that you should familiarize yourself with before proceeding to AP ENG. Step One: T is for TITLE

While it's generally true that you should never judge a book by its cover, it's perfectly okay to judge a poem by its title. Take a look a the title and try to decide what the poem might be about. Remember, the poet chose that title for a reason--so what IS the reason? Step Two: P is for Paraphrase

Paraphrasing is an important skill. The first step toward analyzing *anything* you read is putting what you read into words you understand. So, when you PARAPHRASE, you're restating the plot (the literal meaning) of the poem. Step Three: Connotation

Remember--words can have more than one meaning. Take a moment to read the poem and consider any deeper or extended meanings. Are there any poetic devices? These are often clues to deeper meaning. Look for imagery, symbolism, and diction in particular (but don't overlook more obvious devices such as point of view or sound devices). Look for the literary devices, and explain what they mean. Just as the author chose the title for a specific reason, those metaphors didn't show up by accident. What do they MEAN? What do they suggest about the poem (or perhaps, about life)? Step Four: A is for Attitude

For some reason, this is one that gives students a lot of difficulty. I find that surprising, because I feel sure that your parents have spoken to you quite a lot about the words attitude and tone--you know what they mean, you just can't translate that to literature! :)

Again, consider the poet's diction. Why did s/he choose those particular words? Is it possible that the speaker has one "attitude" or tone and the poet has a different one? Identify the attitude(s) present in the poem and then identify the literary devices (including diction) that help express the tone. Step Five: S is for Shifts

If you've identified the speaker and the attitude, then it's possible you've also identified a shift. Maybe the speaker has a change in tone--that's going to be a shift. Carefully consider the poem and see if you can identify spots where the speaker's feelings change (or shift). Focus in particular on the conclusion, especially in poems like sonnets that are structured for shifts. Eight Items To Consider When Looking for Shifts
1. Key transition words & conjunctions (however, although, yet)
2. Punctuation
3. Stanza division (esp. in sonnets)
4. Changes in length (to lines or stanzas)
5. Irony
6. The effect of the structure on the poem's meaning
7. Changes in rhyme
8. Changes in diction Step Six: T is for Title

I know, I know--we already did the title, right? But that was before you knew what the poem meant! :) Go back and reconsider the title. Does it have any new significance? Step Seven: T is for Theme

Theme is often a difficult concept for students to grasp. Thankfully, TP-CASTT's theme step is actually a three-step process. In step one, quickly reconsider the plot. What is the poet saying? In step two, list the subject or subjects of the poem. Begin with the obvious, literal subjects, and then proceed down your list to the more abstract subjects (concepts like "innocence"). Finally, in step three, expand your list of subjects into complete sentences that explains what the poet is saying about each. A Narrow Fellow in the Grass

A narrow fellow in the grass
Occasionally rides;
You may have met him,--did you not,
His notice sudden is.

The grass divides as with a comb,
A spotted shaft is seen;
And then it closes at your feet
And opens further on.

He likes a boggy acre,
A floor too cool for corn.
Yet when a child, and barefoot,
I more than once, at morn,

Have passed, I thought, a whip-lash
Unbraiding in the sun,--
When, stooping to secure it,
It wrinkled, and was gone.

Several of nature's people
I know, and they know me;
I feel for them a transport
Of cordiality;

But never met this fellow,
Attended or alone,
Without a tighter breathing,
And zero at the bone.

--Emily Dickinson Abandoned Farmhouse by Ted Kooser

He was a big man, says the size of his shoes
on a pile of broken dishes by the house;
a tall man too, says the length of the bed
in an upstairs room; and a good, God-fearing man,
says the Bible with a broken back
on the floor below the window, dusty with sun;
but not a man for farming, say the fields
cluttered with boulders and the leaky barn.

A woman lived with him, says the bedroom wall
papered with lilacs and the kitchen shelves
covered with oilcloth, and they had a child,
says the sandbox made from a tractor tire.
Money was scarce, say the jars of plum preserves
and canned tomatoes sealed in the cellar hole.
And the winters cold, say the rags in the window frames.
It was lonely here, says the narrow country road.

Something went wrong, says the empty house
in the weed-choked yard. Stones in the fields
say he was not a farmer; the still-sealed jars
in the cellar say she left in a nervous haste.
And the child? Its toys are strewn in the yard
like branches after a storm-a rubber cow,
a rusty tractor with a broken plow,
a doll in overalls. Something went wrong, they say.

Homework for the Week: Select three poems to analyze using TP-CASTT.

You may select poems from any of the following poets:
Emily Dickinson
Andrew Marvell
Alfred, Lord Tennyson
John Donne
Lord Byron

You will turn in a copy of each poem--please feel free to ANNOTATE this poem as you do TP-CASTT--and your responses for each of the seven TP-CASTT stages.
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