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Analyzing a Poem

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Analyzing a Poem Answer Key

My Sioux Pride
From the Trail of Tears
To the tale of the Wounded Knee
I have lived the history of my elders
The age-old, silent fears

I look toward the sky
And the earth that is always mine
All is not lost, I remember
We can be us and shine

My braided, parted hair
And wooden flute will sing
Till the soil will grow new plants
Oh, let the music ring
In this poem, which does the speaker most encourage Native Americans to overcome?
  1. lack of pride in others
  2. flaws of character
  3. jealousy shown by others
  4. grievances of the past
Read the following passage....
November is Native American Heritage Month

The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum join in paying tribute to the rich ancestry and traditions of Native Americans.

Would the speaker in the poem support Native American Heritage Month?
  • Sample answer: Yes, the speaker would support Native American Heritage Month because she encourages other Native Americans to take pride in their ancestry and embrace the traditions and culture.
How does the poem shift from the first stanza to the second?
  • Sample answer: In the first stanza the author talks about the past, but in the second stanza she begins to embrace the future.
When reading this poem aloud, what type of voice would you use?
  • Sample answer: I would use a strong voice, full of pride to help show the attitude of the speaker.
Read the following passage:

The Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma celebrates its tribal heritage and history with three days of food; hands-on activities and performances, including dancing, singing, flute playing, storytelling; and such other cultural arts as beading, woodwork, pottery and weaving.

Which stanza of the poem does this passage connect with the most?
  • Sample answer: This passage connects with the third stanza because it talks about music and other positive Native American customs.
My name is Joe Bowers,
I've got a brother Ike,
I came here from Missouri,
Yes, all the way from Pike.
I'll tell you why I left there
And how I came to roam,
And leave my poor old mammy,
So far away from home.

I used to love a gal there,
Her name was Sallie Black,
I asked her for to marry me,
She said it was a whack.
She says to me, "Joe Bowers,
Before you hitch for life,
You ought to have a little home
To keep your little wife."

Says I, "My dearest Sallie,
O Sallie, for your sake,
I'll go to California
And try to raise a stake."
Says she to me, "Joe Bowers,
You are the chap to win,
Give me a kiss to seal the bargain,"
And I throwed a dozen in.

I'll never forget my feelings
When I bid adieu to all.
Sal, she cotched me round the neck
And I began to bawl.
When I begun they all commenced,
You never heard the like,
How they all took on and cried
The day I left old Pike.

When I got to this here country
I hadn't nary a red,
I had such wolfish feelings
I wished myself most dead.
At last I went to mining,
Put in my biggest licks,
Came down upon the boulders
Just like a thousand bricks.

I worked both late and early
In rain and sun and snow,
But I was working for my Sallie
So 'twas all the same to Joe.
I made a very lucky strike
As the gold itself did tell,
For I was working for my Sallie,
The girl I loved so well.

But one day I got a letter
From my dear, kind brother Ike;
It came from old Missouri,
Yes, all the way from Pike.
It told me the goldarndest news
That ever you did hear,
My heart it is a-bustin'
So please excuse this tear.

I'll tell you what it was, boys,
You'll bust your sides I know;
For when I read that letter
You ought to seen poor Joe.
My knees gave 'way beneath me,
And I pulled out half my hair;
And if you ever tell this now,
You bet you'll hear me swear.

It said my Sallie was fickle,
Her love for me had fled,
That she had married a butcher,
Whose hair was awful red;
It told me more than that,
It's enough to make me swear,
It said that Sallie had a baby
And the baby had red hair.

Now I've told you all that I can tell
About this sad affair,
'Bout Sallie marrying the butcher
And the baby had red hair.
But whether it was a boy or girl
The letter never said,
It only said its cussed hair
Was inclined to be red.
Based on the structure, this poem is most likely...
  1. A sonnet
  2. A ballad
  3. A couplet
  4. A haiku
One characteristic of a ballad is that it rarely moralizes. Does this particular ballad moralize? Explain.
  • Sample answer: No, the ballad does not moralize. It simply tells the facts as they are and how he feels about them, but does not go into what kind of lady Sallie really is for hooking up with the butcher.
If you were to turn this ballad into a movie, what would the character of Joe Bowers look like?
  • Sample answer: He would be your typical cowboy. He'd ride a horse, wear a cowboy hat and be tan. His hands would be rough and he'd have dust on him to show how hard he worked and his eyes would be sad to show how he felt when he left Sallie behind.
If you were to create a movie version of this poem, how would you portray Sallie Black?
  • Sample answer: Sallie seems so sweet at the beginning of the poem, but I would make her more shady and conniving. I would make it so in the movie everyone but Joe Bowers knew he was being duped by her feminine wiles.
How can you tell how the speaker felt about Sallie?
  • Sample answer: The speaker says he worked really hard and everything he did was all for Sally, which means he was crushed when she married someone else.

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