Poetry Project Scoring Rubric
sentence 1 – thesis
sentence 2 – introduce textual evidence
sentence 3 – explain textual evidence
sentence 4 – interpret evidence to prove your thesis
#1 – Historical Background and Title
-summarize information about the author and poem
-explain the meaning of the title
-provide the name of your source
ex: “Hope is the Thing with Feathers” was written early in the career of the 19th century American female poet. Dickinson was a reclusive figure whose poetry was influenced by religious verses and simple insights. Dickinson’s poems were written in large volumes, which were completely published after her death. Dickinson’s unique punctuation style has been portrayed in a number of ways by publishers, but most use dashes now to represent her rhythmic markings.
The poem’s title comes from the first line. It states the basic metaphor that forms the foundation of the poem. Dickinson often left her poems untitled, and instead numbered her work in her volumes. Many publishers have since titled her poems after the first line, which seems to be the case here.
source: Poets.org, “Emily Dickinson”: http://poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/155
#2 – Figurative Language
-identify and explain the effect of one figurative language device
-illustrate the figurative language you chose
ex: Dickinson uses the extended metaphor comparing hope to a bird to represent the importance of hope to one’s survival. She does not exactly say that hope is a bird, but gives us clues by saying it is “the thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tune without the words” (lines 1-3). The words “feathers” and “perches” bring to mind birds, and singing a tune without words further refers to birdsongs. As she describes how a little bird and his song can survive any storm, Dickinson is using the metaphor to state that hope is what allows people to endure.
#3 – Connotation/Denotation
-identify and explain the connotations of specific words
-complete a chart of the key words in your poem:
positive neutral negative
ex: Dickinson uses specific words with negative connotations to contrast the topic of hope. Beginning in the second stanza, words such as “sore” and “abash” bring to mind hurt and embarrassment; in the third stanza, “chillest” and “strangest” refer to the unfamiliar or frightening. By using these words to describe the forces the little bird faces in the world, Dickinson creates a negative connotation surrounding the outside world. As the little bird who represents hope must survive in this world, these negative connotations contrast and heighten the positive connotation of the bird.
#4 – Tone
-identify and explain the main tone
-complete the tone mapping exercise
ex: The attitude of the speaker towards hope can best be described as admiring.
The first stanza states what the little bird who represents hope does, but then the second stanza describes the challenges it faces: “and sore must be the storm that could abash the little bird that kept so many warm” (lines 6-8). By saying that any storm that could stop the bird from singing would have to be horribly mean, Dickinson implies that she admires the bird’s resilience. In the final line, Dickinson confirms her admiring tone by saying that the enduring strength of hope has never asked anything of her in return.
#5 – Theme
-identify and explain one theme
-list the topics in the poem, and turn them into themes
ex: The main theme that Dickinson focuses on is that hope is essential to survival. Through the metaphor of the little bird, the poem shows that the world can be hard and cruel, but hope must “never stop at all,” as it “keeps so many warm” (lines 4, 8). Dickinson wants her reader to appreciate the power of hope. When we are feeling low, or like a storm is coming, we need to listen for the song of hope that can never be silenced.