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At Dusk by: Natasha Trethewey
A poem captures a moment and often tells a story using compact language. Poets use imagery that recreate sensory experiences for the reader. They also choose words and phrases carefully to convey a certain tone and mood. A poem’s tone might be formal or informal, serious or sarcastic. The mood might be dark and brooding, or light and energetic.
Analyzing the word choices Natasha Tretheway makes throughout “At Dusk” will help you see the overall impact that her word choices have on the poem’s tone, mood, and meaning. For this assignment you will choose two lines from the poem and explain the impact the author’s word choices have on tone, mood, and meaning.
Lines from poem
Impact on tone, mood, or meaning
Example: “street lamps just starting to hum/the backdrop of evening”
Example: This image establishes the scene of the poem. The author’s word choice regarding the darkening sky creates the mood of a relaxing time of day when families start to unwind.
“I listen as my neighbor’s voice trails off. She’s given up calling for now,”
This shows the image of her good friends leaving and the whole house is settled down, quiet and ready for bed.
“then back to the constellation of fireflies bouncing near her head.”
This is sowing it is; late at night because fireflies only come during the night and its everyone is tired and getting ready to call it a night.