Middle School Poetry Analysis: Tolkien, the Romantics, & Poetry of the Sea

Rebecca Baumgarten, MA
Average rating:5.0Number of reviews:(28)
In this online course, young teens will read and analyze poems describing imaginative or maritime journeys to enchanted lands.

Class experience

US Grade 5 - 8
Students will learn to
•	Define the imram genre
•	Explain the key features of romanticism
•	Understand intertextuality
•	Describe the key features of otherworld
•	Explain the role of the sea in the poetic imagination
•	Conduct close readings of poetry
•	Identify a poem’s rhyme scheme
•	Analyze poetic devices, images, and themes
I am currently an adjunct professor of English composition at Collin College in northern Texas. I have a bachelors and masters in English and graduate certificate in Digital Humanities from Texas A&M University, where I worked for two years as a graduate assistant teacher and researcher. I have also worked as a freelance tutor for learners from elementary through college level, and I have many years of volunteer experience working with and teaching children in extracurricular activities.
Homework Offered
Before class, students will: • Read the poem listed for that week • Write a response to that week's discussion question and post it as a reply to the question in the classroom • Write down their observations and questions on imagery, themes, characters, etc. This should take about 1 hour per week.
1 - 2 hours per week outside of class
Assessments Offered
Grades Offered
Students must have a copy of the following books, all by J.R.R. Tolkien:

The Adventures of Tom Bombadil and Other Verses from the Red Book, ISBN 978-0-00-755727-1
We will use this book throughout the class. The edition matters because we will be reading the commentaries, which are not in all editions.

The Fellowship of the Ring (any edition)
We will use this book only for “The Song of Eärendil” and "Galadriel's Song of Eldamar," so I suggest borrowing it from the library or finding the poems online.

The Return of the King (any edition)
We will use this book only for "To the Sea, to the Sea!" so I suggest borrowing it from the library or finding the poem online.

Sauron Defeated: The History of Middle-earth Volume 9
We will use this book only for “The Death of St. Brendan” and “Imram,” so you may want to check it out from the library. Used copies range anywhere from $9 to $25.

"Bilbo's Last Song"
This is both a poster and a picture book. The latter is probably easier to find. The text is also available online at Tolkien Gateway.

Almost all of the poems in this class can also be found online.
The personal beliefs of the poets in this class colored their imaginations and therefore their writing, so it is necessary to discuss these beliefs at the broadest level. This is not proselytism, but a tool for understanding the myths (as defined above) behind the poetry. I am not discussing my own beliefs, but the beliefs of the poets.

Many of the poems in this class deal with themes of loss, mortality, guilt, or disillusionment. In particular, some learners may find the psychological imagery of “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” and “The Sea-Bell” disturbing, though not to the point of distress. I will be available at any time (within reason) to answer questions and give support, either emotional or intellectual.
The following provide source material for this course, though I will not mention most of them explicitly in class.

Coleridge, Samuel Taylor. “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (text of 1834).” Poetry Foundation, 2022. www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/43997/the-rime-of-the-ancient-mariner-text-of-1834.
Keats, John. “Ode to a Nightingale.” Poetry Foundation, 2022. www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/44479/ode-to-a-nightingale.
Tolkien, J.R.R. The Adventures of Tom Bombadil and Other Verses from the Red Book. HarperCollins, 2014.
---. The Fellowship of the Ring. Ballantine Books, 1983.
---. The Monsters and the Critics: And Other Essays, edited by Christopher Tolkien. HarperCollins, 2006.
---. Sauron Defeated: the End of the Third Age: the History of the Lord of the Rings, Part Four, edited by Christopher Tolkien. Houghton Mifflin, 1992.
---. The Silmarillion, edited by Christopher Tolkien, Houghton Mifflin, 2004.
“William Butler Yeats.” Poetry Foundation, 2022. www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/william-butler-yeats
Yeats, William Butler. “The Man Who Dreamed of Faeryland.” Poetry Verse. www.poetryverse.com/william-butler-yeats-poems/the-man-who-dreamed-faeryland.

Meet the teacher

Average rating:5.0Number of reviews:(28)
My name is Rebecca Baumgarten. I have a bachelor’s and master’s in English from Texas A&M University, focusing on the fiction and scholarship of J.R.R. Tolkien (hence my headline).

I am an adjunct professor of English at Collin College in... 
Group Class


1x per week
55 min

Live video meetings
Ages 12-14
1-6 learners per class

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