Walt Whitman/Emily Dickinson

1.  Walt Whitman/Emily Dickinson

Decide to write about either Whitman or Dickinson.  Google some of the author’s poems that we have not read in this course. Then, choose three topics that you find in this poet’s writings.  (Freedom? Equality? Independence? The Natural World? War? Death? Religion? Other?) Explore those three themes in one or several poems by the author. Or, explore how the author addresses just one of those three topics in three different ways in the poem(s).

MLA Format

600 – 800 words

Five-paragraph essay format (Introduction, three supporting paragraphs, conclusion)


Introduction = Begin with an attention getter, or “hook”.  The introduction should include the name of the author and the name of the short story, essays, or poems being discussed.  The last sentence of the first paragraph should be your thesis statement, which expresses a strong opinion about a debatable point.  The rest of your essay should go about proving this point with evidence from the stories or poems themselves. 

Body Paragraphs =  Each of the three body paragraphs should begin with a topic sentence that relates back to the thesis.  Each paragraph should be unified around a single topic.  Each body paragraph should contain plenty of textual evidence (quotes or summaries from the poems or stories) to support your good ideas.  I don’t want your essay to be just a collection of quotes, but I do want you to  include enough supporting quotes or summaries to illustrate your ideas.  Be sure to analyze (in your own words) the importance of the quotes you include. When citing lines from poems, include the line numbers after the quotes.  When citing sentences from short stories, provide the page numbers where you found the quotes, if possible.

Conclusion = Should summarize your main points, relate back to the thesis, provide closure, and universalize your point, if possible.