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Using Elizabeth Bishop’s poem as a model, write your own short poem (approximately 8 to 10 lines) on the topic of loss. Try to move from the concrete to the abstract, from the specific (like keys) to something more personal (like a relationship).


This assignment has 4 sections, one short poem and three short essays of 600 words in total.
Section 1
Using Elizabeth Bishop’s poem as a model, write your own short poem (approximately 8 to 10 lines) on the topic of loss.  Try to move from the concrete to the abstract, from the specific (like keys) to something more personal (like a relationship).
You are writing your own short poem to and to connect personally to the theme of loss and to demonstrate that you can respond to a topic in an alternative form.  Take the time to read other people’s work and comment on their ideas as well.
For an example see here
So Easy to Master
The art of losing is so easy to master;
so much of what I have seems to want
to be lost, that losing it is never a disaster.
I lost a pearl earring.  And see – my memory
of times spent with grandparents slipped away –
the art of losing is easy for me to master.
Even losing a friend (the shared jokes, the
talents envied) I knew would soon be gone.
It’s plain the art of losing is easy for me to master
though it appears sometimes (admit it!) like a disaster.

One Art
Elizabeth Bishop
The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster,
Lose something every day.  Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.
Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel.  None of these will bring disaster.
I lost my mother’s watch.   And look! My last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.
I lost two cities, lovely ones.  And vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.
– Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan’t have lied.  It’s evident
the art of losing’s not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like a disaster.
Poetry 180

Section 2
The purpose of this type of response is to have you make personal and emotional connections to a piece of writing. We know that making personal connections to a piece of literature is a really important way to help us understand it.
Write a paragraph response of at least 150 words to “One Art” (see the previous page). Use at least three “snippets” (words or phrases) from the poem to support your ideas. Don’t worry about getting the “right answer” here. This is a personal response. It is your reaction to the poem.
Use the questions below to help you shape your paragraph:
•    What thoughts do you have about the title?
•    What words or phrases stand out for you? What images? What comes to mind for you?
•    What personal connections can you make to the poem?
•    The poet states that we should “lose something every day.” How would you respond to this idea?
•    What is your emotional response to the poem?
•    What do you think the poet’s message might be? What is she saying about loss?
•    Also think about the structure of the poem.  What do you notice about the writing style?

Section 3
Write a descriptive paragraph of about 150 words on the following topic:
Choose a person you know really well and in 150 words describe them physically, emotionally and mentally. You may use quotes from them to support your description (if needed). You do not need to name them if you don’t want to.
This is an example:
She moves into the room with a sideways glance, carefully scanning the space for someone that she knows. Her clothes are too big for her; the beige sweater drops to her hips, camouflaging her figure as she attempts to blend into the groups of people already standing in small conversational circles. Just on the outside of a circle, she waits, cocking her head to one side, trying to look like she is interested, trying to make it seem as if she is part of the dialogue. A half smile on her lips, she nods in agreement to the statements others make; she sidles away slowly from this pod, looking for an opening in another group. Her hair stands on end as she quickly rubs her hands through it and then she bites her lip, looking as if she’s caught in a trap of her own making. She glances back towards the door, seeking an escape, and begins to gnaw on her thumbnail as she takes small steps away from the others. “See you,” she whispers, as she slides out the door and into the release of the darkened street.
You are writing a descriptive paragraph on someone you know well.
You are demonstrating your understanding of the essay, your ability to write in descriptive form, and your ability to use figurative language to make your writing stronger.
Writing About Literature Rubric
6    The 6 paragraph or composition is engaging and demonstrates originality, energy and flair.  It has a strong personal voice.  Purposeful and focused, it flows smoothly from an effective opening through a series of events or ideas to a strong conclusion.  Details and examples are used purposefully to establish mood, develop character or elaborate an argument.  Style is vivid and precise.  The writer may take risks, and the results are effective.  There is an easy command of sentence structure.  Vocabulary is appropriate, precise and often sophisticated.  There are very few errors.  The task outlined is completed to a very high standard.
5    The 5 paragraph or composition is competently written and well developed, but there is less apparent sense of personal voice, energy and originality than in level 6.  Purposeful and clearly focused, it moves logically from an opening through a series of events or ideas to a conclusion.  Details and examples are used to establish mood, develop character or elaborate an argument.  The writer takes some risks but the results may be a bit uneven.  Sentences are controlled and varied.  Vocabulary is appropriate and accurately used.  There are few errors.  The task outlined is completed to a high standard.

Section 4
300 words Essay
Discuss the symbolic importance of the spinner in the short story “David Comes Home”.  You need to have a strong thesis with discussion and integrated quotes for support.

David Comes Home
by Earnest Buckler
There was a stillness in Joseph’s mind as he plowed the first furrows on the side hill below the orchard; not the stillness of the weary, because it was only mid afternoon and his muscles were without weight; but the stillness which comes over the mind when it has searched so long, silently, for the answer to a question not itself quite clear.
When David, his son, had been there to guide the horses, sometimes there would be no sound between them either, not even the building together of small jokes. Yet then the thoughts in his mind had seemed to make a little current, moving shapelessly, but as with a gentle ringing through the quiet minutes, the way the plow shelved its soft path through the long, curling sod.
At the top of the hill, Joseph paused to give the horses their wind. He could see his own house now – the neat, low clapboard house that had been his father’s – with the large chimneys showing white and clean above the chestnut trees. He turned over a sod, absently, with his heavy boot.
And when he did, he noticed something fall away cleanly from its tight pocket in the earth. It was not a stone. Joseph picked it up and looked at it. It was a spinner he had plowed up, and it had lain there, lost, for seven years. He and David had searched for it but they could never find it.
He remembered so clearly the morning David had lost that spinner. It was the morning he had taken him back in the woods fishing and David had stayed all night in the camp for the first time. He could remember how David looked then, the air heavy and moist but the face and body almost thin. He could see the strange quickness in David’s face and the eyes which always seemed to have the heat of fever in them. He knew David was excited that day, in a secret sort of way. And that night Joseph could tell that he was lying awake, quietly, in the dark.
But he was not sure whether David had been happy or just tired. He could not ask him, even then. And when David grew up, his strange quiet had still been there. …And yet, sometimes when they would be ploughing in the field together, he had hoped that the silence between them might not be strangeness at all: had hoped that David was quiet because he knew his father’s thoughts were not word-shaped and bright like his own but of one flesh just the same. In that way the silence became a bond. But Joseph could not be sure that this was so.
If your son went away in anger, even, then no matter what happened, he would be your son still. But his son had seemingly gone away with no keepsake at all of the things they had together. He had tried desperately, that last morning as David went off to camp, to say some simple thing that might make it plain between them, but the slow erosion of minutes had dumbed his tongue. And Joseph knew that if they had loved nothing in the same way, death would leave him no part of his son to cherish.
Joseph had read the first letters that David sent, hoping desperately for some sign, but there had been none. Now he would never know, for the phone call had ended that. The facts were all gathered, all there would ever be, and no matter how long he thought, the answer was in none of them.
Joseph sighed a little, quickly, and turned the horses. He set the plow in the furrow again and followed it patiently down the long face of the hill.
In the kitchen, Ellen, his wife, was sitting quiet, waiting a few minutes before she called to him. The wrappings from the package were on the table before her, and one sheet of the papers she held in her hands still. She was letting tears come a little, easily, before she called Joseph.
The kitchen was small, but the soft-wood floor was scrubbed and white as cotton, and the sun seemed always to be in it. It had been the heart of the whole house. It had been Ellen’s whole world – close and quiet like the presence of a friend – until that days weeks ago when the phone rang and the strange voice told her in curiously flat words about David. Ever since that day, the kitchen had seemed quite strange and, when she worked there, it had seemed as if she were not home at all.
Now she placed the papers together again, tenderly, and went to call her husband.
Joseph could not think what Ellen could want in the middle of the afternoon. He glanced at her face as he came through the door, but there seemed to be nothing wrong.
“There were some papers,” Ellen said softly, pointing to the table, “of David’s. They are little things – notes he must have put down sometime, as one would who lacks someone close to talk with.”
There was a date at the top of the page: August 30, 1944. That was the very day before, Joseph thought suddenly…it would be the very last. And then, as he began to read, all the awkwardness seemed to leave his hands at once.”
“I guess the day I remember best of all was the day I lost the spinner…the day Father and I went back to the woods and I stayed all night in the camp for the first time. I could not eat my breakfast for thinking about it. And when we were all ready I started off, wanting to run, wanting to leave the pasture road behind and get into the strange, exciting log road that went where I had never been deep and deeper into the still woods.
…Later, when the whole night was cool, there was the dry wood Father could always find somewhere for the fire. And with Father there, it was dark and quiet and warm in the camp and the big trees whispered together their drowsy talk outside in the dark. It was the first night I had slept in the woods, and there had never been anything like it….I guess that was the best day there ever was. I guess a guy should be satisfied to have had just one day like that.
“I remember lying awake a long time that night. And I think Dad was awake too. He didn’t say anything, but I think he knew how it was. Somehow I think Dad always knew how it was….”
“The horses,” Joseph said suddenly in a low voice. “I forgot the horses.”
Ellen had seen him tie the horses before he came over to the house. But she didn’t say anything.
David! David! Joseph said his son’s name over and over in his mind when he was again in the fields. He said it with exaltation, for the stillness was all gone now from his mind, and the good kind of tears were tight in his throat. It had been David who loved this place best of all. And if your son loved the place he went away from, then he could never leave it. If he died even for these things you both loved, then you could hear his voice in their voice still.
He took the spinner from his pocket and made a hole deep in the ground. Then he covered it over gently with earth where the plow could never reach it. That would be David’s spot, always. He stood there a minute, looking across the valley from mountain to mountain, and then he turned the horses again into the furrow. The field had looked long and wide. But not it seemed an easy field to plow. It seemed as if everywhere he looked, David had come home.



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