Berry Picking and Water essay
Compare and make an argument about the natural world and human relationships in “Berry Picking”
by Irving Layton and “Water” by Robert Lowell.
Length on Berry Picking and Water: 1250 words
Format on Berry Picking and Water: 12-point Times New Roman, double-spaced, page numbers in the top right corner. Include on
your first page in the upper left corner: your name, the date of submission and the word count of your
paper. Document quotations properly (this means line #s for poetry for starters). Include a Works Cited
page. Use MLA 8 format (This means citations in brackets and a Works Cited page; no end/footnotes).
Thesis Statements- your thesis statement is the statement of your central argument. It should be
shared in your introduction. When developing your thesis, ask yourself “What is significant about the
topic I am addressing? What is it that I want to prove? What evidence will I use?”
Textual Evidence- textual evidence should be used to support and elucidate the arguments you make
in your essay. Do not use textual evidence to demonstrate points about the text that are obvious [eg.
The speaker is unhappy. She explains, “I am unhappy” (67)]. Write with the understanding that your
reader has read the texts you’re discussing and is familiar with them. Use quotations to talk about
image patterns, poetic techniques, significant word choices etc.
The Present Tense- When writing about literature, write in the present tense (eg. The speaker
observes that “Time has flown too rapidly” (9) vs. the speaker observed that)
Reminders: This is NOT a research paper. To be successful with this assignment, you need to
demonstrate original critical thinking– not research ability.
To be successful in this assignment, you need to:
develop a clear, plausible, debatable and focused argument
make insightful use of textual evidence (that means quotations!)
put forth your ideas and observations in clearly outlined paragraphs
present your ideas in a clear and concise fashion
use correct grammar and formatting
proofread your paper carefully
“Berry Picking” by Irving Layton
Silently my wife walks on the still wet furze
Now darkgreen the leaves are full of metaphors
Now lit up is each tiny lamp of blueberry.
The white nails of rain have dropped and the sun is free.
And whether she bends or straightens to each bush
To find the children’s laughter among the leaves
Her quiet hands seem to make the quiet summer hush–
Berries or children, patient she is with these.
I only vex and perplex her; madness, rage
Are endearing perhaps put down upon the page;
Even silence daylong and sullen can then
Enamor as restraint or classic discipline.
So I envy the berries she puts in her mouth,
The red and succulent juice that stains her lips;
I shall never taste that good to her, nor will they
Displease her with a thousand barbarous jests.
How they lie easily for her hand to take,
Part of the unoffending world that is hers;
Here beyond complexity she stands and stares
And leans her marvelous head as if for answers.
No more the easy soul my childish craft deceives
Nor the simpler one for whom yes is always yes;
No, now her voice comes to me from a far way off
Though her lips are redder than the raspberries.
“Water” by Robert Lowell
It was a Maine lobster town—
each morning boatloads of hands
pushed off for granite
quarries on the islands,
and left dozens of bleak
white frame houses stuck
like oyster shells
on a hill of rock,
and below us, the sea lapped
the raw little match-stick
mazes of a weir,
where the fish for bait were trapped.
Remember? We sat on a slab of rock.
From this distance in time
it seems the color
of iris, rotting and turning purpler,
but it was only
the usual grey rock
turning the usual green
when drenched by the sea.
The sea drenched the rock
at our feet all day,
and kept tearing away
flake after flake.
One night you dreamed
you were a mermaid clinging to a wharf-pile,
and trying to pull
off the barnacles with your hands.
We wished our two souls
might return like gulls
to the rock. In the end,
the water was too cold for us
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