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Response Writing to Poem, "The Future," by Billy Collins

Poem: "The Future," by Billy Collins

Assignment: Write a response to the poem noticing as many details, emotions, and themes as possible. Quote from the poem in your response paper. Your analysis should include evidence from the text to support your views. All references and quotations must be clearly cited using the MLA parenthetical form of citation. Also include a Works Cited page. Follow the MLA general format directions.

With regard to this assignment, the concept of writing a response paper to a piece of writing (in this case, a poem) is discussed: the idea of making general statements and supporting those statements with specific examples is demonstrated-a skill that should be mastered as it applies to all core subjects/areas of study with regard to researching a topic.

Parenthetical citation (notation) is examined, in terms of the formatting-and necessity, as it is a requirement of the assignment-as well as the procedure of constructing a Works Cited page listing all sources used to provide supporting documentation. Parenthetical notation and a Works Cited page are absolutely necessary if one does not want to be inadvertently guilty of plagiarism.

This posting discusses a specific poem, but the steps can be applied to any writing where interpretation and supporting documentation is requested.

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In that I cannot write your paper for you, I can point out things that might be of help so you know what you should include in your response to the poem. (By the way, the attachment of the poem would not load, but I was able to find it on the New Yorker website.)

The title of the poem talks, obviously, about the future, and the subsequent text refers to arriving "there." The interesting thing is that the speaker refers to the future as a final destination; however, the future is never actually fixed in one place, but is always changing. For instance, today was yesterday's future, but now tomorrow is the future, and today is the present.

You will need to decide if the author is speaking literally of a place that is "the future," or if, perhaps, he is speaking metaphorically, and the future is on the other side of life, specifically, the after life.

Stanza #1 -

"When I finally arrive there-
and it will take many days and nights-
I would like to believe others will be waiting
and might even want to know how it was."

The first stanza refers to the narrator's trip. It discusses the length of time it will have taken to get there, but not in specific terms: which, as mentioned above, would be impossible. The future can be tomorrow, or it can be twenty, forty or sixty years from now. Continuing with the reference to the future being a fixed place in time, the speaker hopes others will be there when he arrives and that they will be curious about his trip. In keeping with this theme, no one will be waiting, and no one will be listening.

Stanza #2 -

"So I will reminisce about a particular sky,
or a woman in a white bathrobe
or the time I visited a narrow strait
where a famous naval battle had taken place."

In the second stanza, the speaker plans (when he "arrives") to remember important images from his past, and he lists a few examples. You will need to look at the images presented in this stanza and see if any of them elicit a personal response that resonates ...

Solution Summary

This posting requested guidance in writing a response paper to a specific poem. Included in this response are general guidelines, as well as specific examples, to assist in the writing of a response paper that is organized, and supported with specific examples from the text in question, to backup general statements with regard to the nature and content of the writing being analyzed.