A detailed analysis of the background, themes, structure, symbolism, significance of the title, animal imagery, and use of similes, metaphors, and oxymoron in Lowell’s most famous poem, “For the Union Dead.”
The five-page student handout section, which has blanks which your students can fill in, is suitable as an in-class activity or for homework. An Answer Key is provided on a separate sheet.
Not as part of the student handout, I have appended six pages of line-by-line commentary on “For the Union Dead,” notes which I gathered for a graduate-level course on Modern Poetry. These cover such areas as the historical and political background, allusions, a fuller discussion of the slavery/segregation themes, and other stylistic devices in “For the Union Dead.” It will tell you more than you probably want to know about the poem! However, you may wish to incorporate a few of these points into your class’s discussion of “For the Union Dead.”
Prepared by Professor William Tarvin, Ph.D., who has published many articles on literature in scholarly journals.