Hi! I’m Sarah Gompper. Welcome to my digital exploration of “In Memory of W.B. Yeats” and “September 1, 1939,” two of W.H. Auden’s most famous poems.

I am currently a junior at Davidson College, completing this project for Dr. Suzanne Churchill’s modern poetry class, Terrible Beauty (Eng 373). In class, we have discussed different ways of understanding and analyzing poetry, thinking about poems in terms of reader response, close readings, and historicized readings. We have also practiced memorizing and performing poetry and reading poetry aloud. Throughout the course we continued to be amazed at how different readings could draw out different meanings from the poems.

I am a visual person. Whether I am painting a canvas for a studio art class or doodling in a political science textbook, art is always part of my learning. In Terrible Beauty, I latched on to our classroom discussions of the visual as we looked at Stevie Smith’s drawings, Beyoncé’s visual album Lemonade, ekphrastic poetry, a manga adaption of W.B. Yeat’s “When You Are Old,” and the comic adaptions of poems by Julian Peters. I wondered how visual art could be used to analyze poetry and pull out specific meaning as people do when they read poetry aloud.

Thus, with my digital project, I am creating graphic representations of two of W.H. Auden’s poems. Drawing the poems has encouraged me to think about them in a different way than I did in close readings or class discussions. Through my drawings I am attempting not merely to illustrate the poems, but to create something new from Auden’s words: something that would compliment them and illuminate specific meaning. I am interested in themes of imprisonment and the dangers of nationalism in “In Memory of W.B. Yeats” and “September 1, 1939,” and I am attempting to portray a violence in my drawings that will reflect and play upon those sentiments.

During my process I have thought about what it means to represent a text visually, about what it means to draw meaning from a poem, and about the specific story that my drawings tell. From there, I came up with the title, Illumi-Nation.

The reproduction of these poems in any part is only for academic purposes. All rights remain with the publisher. If you have any questions, please reach out!

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