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Unit 1. Learning and Literature: What is the Purpose of Studying English?

A Book He Ate and Drank the Precious Words

(1) There is no frigate like a book (1) He ate and drank the precious words,
To take us lands away, His spirit grew robust;
Nor any coursers like a page He knew no more that he was poor,
Of prancing poetry. Nor that his frame was dust.
(5) This traverse may the poorest take (5) He danced along the dingy days,
Without oppress of toll; And this bequest of wings
How frugal is the chariot Was but a book what liberty
That bears a human soul! A loosened spirit brings!

-Emily Dickinson -Emily Dickinson

Reader Response
1.) Read and Annotate: Re-read the Dickinson poems above. Annotate them by underling important
words, putting a ? next to areas that confuse you (and asking a specific question here), and looking
for any of the literary devices we have learned about: alliteration, assonance, consonance, metaphor,
simile, etc.

2.) Initial Response: What is your initial response to this poem? Do you like it? Does it make you think?
Does it resonate and/or connect with you?

3.) Question: Write one question you have after reading this poem. (You may ask any kind of questions
that occurs to you. Your question might ask for clarification; it might ask for a deep, philosophical
response, or it might ask for anything in between those two extremes.)
4.)Evaluate: What is the theme/message of this poem? Do you agree/disagree with this theme/message?

5.) Synthesize: Discuss how these poems address the thematic question we are probing in unit 1: What is
the purpose of studying English? Why do we read? How does literature broaden our/your experience/
understanding of the world and inform our/your expectations? Use the poems to support your opinions
about what the author of these poems, Dickinson, says to these essential questions.
Group Discussion

1.) Share your readers response with your group members.


2.) Respond to the questions that each member of the group created.
3.) Discuss the denotations and connotations of the words that group members highlighted. Talk about
the significance of these words in this poem.
4.) Discuss how these poems address the thematic question we are probing in unit 1: What is the
purpose of studying English? Why do we read? How does literature broaden our experience/
understanding of the world and inform our expectations? Use the texts/poems to support your
/your group members opinions about what the author of these poems, Dickinson, says to these
essential questions.
5.) Take notes on your groups discussion, especially on your groups insights to prompt 4.

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