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I need to write a one page response to the following poem, answering "How persuasive is this poem? How powerful is its argument? Account for its effect."

I don't know where to begin because I don't understand the question. Any suggestions?

Promises Like Pie-Crust
Christian Rossetti

Promise me no promises,
So will I not promise you:
Keep we both our liberties,
Never false and never true:
Let us hold the die uncast,
Free to come as free to go:
For I cannot know your past,
And of mine what can you know?

You, so warm, may once have been
Warmer towards another one:
I, so cold, may once have seen
Sunlight, once have felt the sun:
Who shall show us if it was
Thus indeed in time of old?
Fades the image from the glass,
And the fortune is not told.

If you promised, you might grieve
For lost liberty again:
If I promised, I believe
I should fret to break the chain.
Let us be the friends we were,
Nothing more but nothing less:
Many thrive on frugal fare
Who would perish of excess.

  • Poetry -

    The first two lines are like a thesis statement in an essay; they serve as the main idea, and all the rest of the poem is there to expand on why promises shouldn't be made.

    Now read the rest of the poem in each two-line segment (couplet) and make sure you understand how each couplet reinforces the idea of the first two lines. Make notes to yourself as you go.

    Once you have a clear idea of the structure of the poem (first couplet is thesis statement; other couplets are there to persuade the reader that the thesis is right), you can come to your conclusion. Did the poem persuade you that it's not a good idea to make promises? How did the poem do that? (Use the different couplets throughout the poem to prove your point.)

    The last two couplets are the conclusion. Do they accurately reflect the point that the author intended to make?

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