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Thread: Relating title and poem

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    Relating title and poem

    How can I write an essay that examines the complex relationship between title and poem? What techniques and analytical skills should I be employing? I seem to struggle as what I see is different to what is required. I'm more than willing to learn.
    Thanks in advance.

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    Maybe YesNo's Avatar
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    One of the problems I have with a collection of poetry is why the collection is titled the way it is. I assume that title should have some significance to the collection as a whole.

    At the moment, I'm reading Dana Gioia's Pity the Beautiful. Although there is one poem by that title in the collection, whose message simply is "pity everything", I ask myself, why the pity? Is it because everything passes away? OK, then why title the entire collection with that same title? Why not pick a new title? I guess it is a puzzle the Gioia expects me to consider, or not. Perhaps for my own entertainment, or not.

    I look at the title as a way to package a product for market. The people buying the product (even if it is only their time to read that they spend) need a way to access the product. Other than that, I'm puzzled by many poetry titles, almost as much as I'm puzzled by the contents of some poems.

    What specific titles are you considering?
    Last edited by YesNo; 05-09-2013 at 08:55 AM.

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    Thanks for your experience and insight. Relating it to marketing is a good analogy as that's my strength. Why poets do that is puzzling. In my own poetry (that I also publish online), I often leave mystery but not to the extent that my reader is scratching their heads till it hurts. I read my friends poem today, which got me thinking more than usual for poetry (even as I type).

    How could I write an essay that exams the relationship with reference to a poem? I have the question, my work and material, but I'm trying to gain an understand with as little help so I can learn by doing. That's why my question seems minimal.

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    I just want to read. chrisvia's Avatar
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    You could examine the role of context in poetry, the title being a tool for setting context.
    "J'ai seul la clef de cette parade sauvage."
    - Rimbaud

    "Il est l'heure de s'enivrer!
    Pour n'être pas les esclaves martyrisés du Temps,
    enivrez-vous;
    enivrez-vous sans cesse!
    De vin, de poésie ou de vertu, à votre guise."
    - Baudelaire

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    Titles are difficult, regardless of what it will go on. Titles of poems are usually part of a line, and for collections of poems the title usually is the title of one poem or something that describes the provenance of the poems as a whole. For marketting purposes the title should be interesting and terse.

    Think about some collections of poems or long poems, or go into the poetry section of a bookstore or library.

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    Hmm, that could work. I think I better put the actual question and some of my material:

    At first title's appear simple or reductive, but a detailed examination of a text can broaden or destabilise our initial assumptions. With close reference to at least two poems discuss the complex relationship between title and text.

    My poems are: The Road Not Taken & Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening <-- both by Robert Frost.
    The essay needs to be 2000 words, the worst part for me as I don't know how I can write 2000 words based on my understanding (which is basic).

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    @ PeterL

    For the question, the title is in reference to an individual poem than an anthology. Though for my own interest, I might

    P.S | Your post came at the same time as I posted, so it wasn't in reference to yours.
    Last edited by Elihu5991; 05-09-2013 at 09:26 AM. Reason: Didn't reply to the quote.

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    It wouldn't be hard to get a few hundred words about those titles, but 2000 would be a huge stretch. I don't know what Frost was thinking, but I find that the best titles are terse summaries of the work in a phrase that is in the work. Referring to something outside the work in the title is a bad idea.

    I started writing "The Road Least Taken" after I spent several days looking for the Robert Frost Trail in one place. The trail is barely marked in some places, but I eventually got through and finished that section. I doubt that Robert Frost would have called it a trail at all.

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    When it comes to a collection, you must generalize and that can be done but it is difficult because unless you call it something like Love Poems, or Wheels, or Winds and names like that. And you must keep the context. You could call it something like Blasts and Other Poems if you are going to use only one poem to give it a title.
    Otherwise you'll never be able to do it for marketing purposes.
    One poem is even difficult unless you are very clear but, of course, it is much easier. Yet, a-posteriori, chances are that later you will come upon a better title and say "that is what I should have call it." It's inevitable except in very few cases. But you can do your best and that's all you can do.

    Just don't call it Love Poems and write a set of culinary poems because you love the food. LOL
    Last edited by cafolini; 05-09-2013 at 09:51 AM.

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    Yes, 2000 is a stretch but I can apparently do it. I've got to write about how the complex relationship between title and poem for the both of them. I think the key words are "broaden or destabalise", "detailed examination", "simple or reductive" and "complex relationship".

    I'm not expected to write good titles (or any for that matter for this work), though your post helps with my other work where I do need to (not related to my personal poetry).

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    What could the complex relationships be in the two aforementioned Frost poems?

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