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TP-CASTT Poetry Analysis: Those Winter Sundays/My Papa's Waltz

AP English LIterature and Composition

Tanya Bernier

on 18 March 2014

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Transcript of TP-CASTT Poetry Analysis: Those Winter Sundays/My Papa's Waltz

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 at 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.
Those Winter Sundays

Sundays too my father got up early
And put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,
Then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather made
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.

I'd wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.
When the rooms were warm, he'd call,
and slowly I would rise and dress,
fearing the chronic angers of that house,

Speaking indifferently to him,
who had drive out the cold
and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, what did I know
of love's austere and lonely offices?

--Robert Hayden
My Papa's Waltz

The whiskey on your breath
Could make a small boy dizzy;
But I hung on like death:
Such waltzing was not easy.

We romped until the pans
Slid from the kitchen shelf;
My mother's countenance
Could not unfrown itself.

The hand that held my wrist
Was battered on one knuckle;
At every step you missed
My right ear scraped a buckle.

Homework for the Week (Due Monday): Select three poems to analyze using TP-CASTT.

You may select poems from any of the following poets that are not in your packet:

Robert Hayden
Theodore Roethke
Margaret Atwood
Judith Ortiz Cofer

You will turn in a copy of each poem--ANNOTATED-and your responses for each of the seven TP-CASTT stages.
You beat time on my head
With a palm caked hard by dirt,
Then waltzed me off to bed
Still clinging to your shirt.

-Theodore Roethke
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