Writing Activity #6

Write a personal essay on a philosophical theme or discuss some fantasy in your life. Base your essay on an idea suggested by one of the following:

  • I used to pretend . . .
  • Kids can come up with some of the craziest ideas.
  • “All of the animals except man, know that the chief business of life is to enjoy it.”
  • “To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive, and the true success is to labour.”
  • When I have kids, I’m going to teach them . . .

Patrick Lane, “The Carpenter” and “The Bird”

  1. Both of these poems suggest the longing of the individual for escape from the realities of life. Why is the trade of the carpenter appropriate for the thought of the poem?
  2. “The Bird” is a poem about the necessity for freedom. According to Lane, how does the poet free himself from the realities of life?

P.K. Page, “The Stenographers”

  1. What comparison does the opening stanza suggest? Why is it appropriate?
  2. What is the bell that rings in stanza four? Whose voice “draws the pencils”?
  3. Where are the stenographers in the seventh stanza? What are they doing? Note how the poem carries them through the day.
  4. In what sense are the stenographers like marathon runners racing around a stadium track?
  5. In your own words explain what the poet is suggesting about the life of a stenographer.

George Johnston, “The Pool”, “In It”, and “O Earth, Turn!”

  1. What does the pool represent in “The Pool”? How does the reference to the pool in “In It” clarify the meaning of the first poem? Notice that the boy in the poem is a part of the thing he gazes on, but the man is a thing apart from the pool and sees it from the outside. What does this suggest about the way our attitude to life changes as our understanding develops?
  2. How does the meaning of “world” in “In It” differ from the meaning of “earth” in “O Earth, Turn!”? Is there any contradiction in the poems? Do all three poems suggest the same philosophy of life?

Earle Birney, “Bushed”

  1. What is the meaning of the term “bushed”? What happens to the man in the shack?
  2. Notice how the mountains changes character and becomes more and more personified, and how the sights and sounds of the woods take on terrifying significance as the poem progresses. Experienced trappers say that you should never approach a trapper’s cabin, even the cabin of a friend, without first calling from the shelter of the woods and making your presence known. Can you suggest a reason for this?

Writing Activity #4

  1. Identify some person whom you admire because he or she has taken a firm stand on some issue and supported it in the face of strong opposition. You could choose as a subject someone you know personally, or a public figure. Write an essay characterizing this person and explain what it is you admire in him or her. OR
  2. Write an impassioned defense of some idea that you have proposed without success, but that you still feel is valid. The cause you support should be one that is generally unpopular. You may, if you like, treat this essay humorously, inventing a cause that is obviously indefensible and defending it with mock seriousness.