Your first longer paper will be an interpretive essay (approx. 7-10 pages, double-spaced) on any feature of Yeats's earlier work that interests you. You can organize your essay around the discussion of a theme (e.g., Ireland as an ideal and imaginary space, female beauty, love, the occult, etc.), symbol (the hawk or eagle, the moon,the Sidhe, etc.), stylistic technique (e.g., questions in Yeatsıs poetry), pattern of allusions (e.g., Cuchulain, Helen of Troy), and so on.

A good analysis makes use of evidence from the primary texts: you should quote from the work(s) you are writing about to show how the text supports your thesis. Pay careful attention to the workings of the poems in detail, attending to matters of poetic form, meter, imagery, and meaning ­ attending to how form and content are related and explaining how these elements of the literary work help to create or affect the textual element (theme, symbol, etc.) that you are discussing. Remember to consider the various elements of poetry we have discussed in class (e.g., symbols, metaphor, personification, rhyme, etc.). You should avoid simply summarizing the work(s) you decide to write about: while your essay may begin with a short summary in order to set context, you should be certain to analyze rather than to summarize. One way to avoid summary is by crafting an argumentative thesis that takes an arguable point of view concerning the text, a point of view that will require support from the text itself.

Please feel free to e-mail me about topic ideas; we will also discuss topics in class. This assignment does not require you to conduct research, though if you feel that some relevant background information will help you develop your thinking about the literature, this is fine, too.