W.H. Auden’s The Shield of Achilles: Practice with Poetry

W.H. Auden’s The Shield of Achilles: Practice with Poetry
W.H. Auden’s The Shield of Achilles: Practice with Poetry
W.H. Auden’s The Shield of Achilles: Practice with Poetry
W.H. Auden’s The Shield of Achilles: Practice with Poetry
W.H. Auden’s The Shield of Achilles: Practice with Poetry
W.H. Auden’s The Shield of Achilles: Practice with Poetry
W.H. Auden’s The Shield of Achilles: Practice with Poetry
W.H. Auden’s The Shield of Achilles: Practice with Poetry
Grade Levels
Common Core Standards
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This lesson encourages students to write a poetry analysis essay.

Students learn about the poem, “The Shield of Achilles,” by W.H. Auden, an English poet, who later became an American citizen. It is a poem where a speaker describes a 20th Century nihilist vision depicted on the warrior’s shield.

Students will read, listen to and view supporting video and audio clips while learning the necessary elements to understand the themes of war and hopelessness. Students will show mastery of the standards at the end of the lesson through a SIFT Analysis, short paragraph assessments, a Socratic seminar, and a written timed essay scored on an AP English-style rubric.

The central text is the essay is the poem, “The Shield of Achilles.” The longer videos used are the TED TALK “Progress is Not a Zero-Sum Game,” by Robert Wright & The TED TALK: Our Lonely Society Makes it Hard to Come Home From War | Sebastian Junger. Links to different NPR, New York Times articles and many videos showing the themes of the unit. There is a short paragraph writing opportunity writing comparing Auden’s shield with Homer’s shield. The lessons include reading an excerpt from Book 18 & Book 22 from The Iliad. Students will examine Pablo Picasso’s “Massacre of Korea,” and compare the painting to the poem. The entire lessons act as a building of context for a poetry analysis on the Auden’s poem.

These six daily lessons fit any Honors Literature class, Pre-AP, American Literature, AP English Language or Literature class to prepare students for AP English Language exams, Common Core extended response assessments, American Literature Course exams, the SAT and ACT essay and critical thinking activities.


There are sources for teaching the Socratic Seminar, as the lessons act as support for the rhetorical analysis. The packet includes complete lessons, Common Core standards, essential and key questions.


New in 2018:

Reformatted & added 2 more lessons. Fixed links. Added more videos, audios, and print sources. Resource is up to 20 pages.

Total Pages
20 pages
Answer Key
Rubric only
Teaching Duration
1 Week
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