A response journal is exactly what it sounds like. You write a page in which you respond to a piece of literature that interested you from the readings for the lesson. There are many things you can write about. You can express your opinion, or compare the literature to something that has happened in your own life. You can write about specific language or imagery that impressed you, or you can mention some of the difficulties you experienced in reading the literature.
Response Journal Options
In your response journal you need to respond to at least one poem that left an impression on you. You will want to record the ideas you had regarding the poem. For example, you will want to include elements such as what you liked/disliked about the poem, how it relates to you, who it reminds you of, or many other possible reactions you might have to the poem. I encourage you to respond on your own to the poem that you choose to address in your journal, but if you need some direction or ideas, the following are some options to write about.
1. A few of the poems express a carpe diem or “seize the day” attitude. How do you intend to seize the day? Explain.
2. How does your attitude compare to the attitude expressed in one of the poems?
3. Think about an older person you know. What is his or her attitude about old age? What attitude do you want to have in your old age? Explain.
4. Tell me about a difficult choice you had to make and the consequences, whether good or bad, that resulted.
5. What are some of the people, objects, or experiences that have most affected your life and made you the person you are. Explain.
6. What are some choices you anticipate needing to make in the future? What factors will influence your decision making process?
7. Why would it be important to first save ourselves, as Mary Oliver states in “The Journey” before trying to help others?
8. What are some of the places or things you would like to explore or learn about? Explain why.
9. How would you initially respond to a dramatic change in your lifestyle or environment? Have you experienced this previously? How did it affect you?
10. Choose any of the pieces of literature in this lesson and respond in your own way.
Response Journal Writing Guide
Use this guide to help you know exactly what you need to include in your response journals to make them effective. This also gives you a clear picture of how you will be graded on the assignment.
% How you will be graded on this assignment
70% Ideas and Content
1. Respond to something you have read or experienced in the course so far.
2. Make a connection between your life and whatever it is that impressed you in the literature. Remember SPECIFIC, CONCRETE DETAILS.
3. Be concise and avoid being wordy just to extend the length of your response, but develop your ideas appropriately.
30% Other Writing Elements
1. Check for spelling, punctuation, and grammatical issues.
2. Do your best with word choice and sentence fluency.
3. It is organized in a logical way that leads the reader smoothly through the essay.
4. Your personality is portrayed in your writer’s “voice.”
These response journal should be about a page. Don’t count words, but make sure you delve into the subject sufficiently without going on too long.
One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
their bad advice—
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do—
determined to save
the only life you could save.
The Road Not Taken
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black,
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
There Was a Child Went Forth
There was a child went forth every day,
And the first object he look’d upon, that object he became,
And that object became part of him for the
day or a certain part of the day,
Or for many years or stretching cycles of years.
The early lilacs became part of this child,
And grass and white and red morning-glories,
and white and red clover, and the song of the phoebe bird,
And the Third-month lambs and the sow’s
pink-faint litter, and the mare’s foal and the cow’s calf,
And the noisy brood of the barnyard or by
the mire of the pond-side,
And the fish suspending themselves so curiously
below there, and the beautiful curious liquid,
And the water-plants with their graceful flat
heads, all became part of him.
The field-sprouts and Fourth-month and
Fifth-month became part of him,
Winter-grain sprouts and those of the
light-yellow corn, and the esculent roots of the garden,
And the apple-trees cover’d with blossoms
and the fruit afterward, and wood-berries,
and the commonest weeds by the road,
And the old drunkard staggering home from
the outhouse of the tavern whence he had lately risen,
And the school mistress that pass’d on her way to the school,
And the friendly boys that pass’d, and the quarrelsome boys,
And the tidy and fresh-cheek’d girls, and
the barefoot negro boy and girl,
And all the changes of city and country wherever he went.
His own parents, he that had father’d him and she that had
conceiv’d him in her womb and birth’d him
They gave this child more of themselves than that,
They gave him afterward every day, they became part of him.
The mother at home quietly placing the dishes
on the supper-table,
The mother with mild words, clean her cap and gown,
a wholesome odor falling off
her person and clothes as she walks by,
The father, strong, self-sufficient, manly,
mean, anger’d, unjust,
The blow, the quick loud word,
the tight bargain, the crafty lure,
The family usages, the language, the company,
the furniture, the yearning and swelling heart,
Affection that will not be gainsay’d, the sense of what is real,
the thought if after all it should prove unreal,
The doubts of day-time and the doubts of
night-time, the curious whether and how,
Whether that which appears so is so,
or is it all flashes and specks?
Men and women crowding fast in the streets,
if they are not flashes and specks what are they?
The streets themselves and the facades
of houses, and goods in the windows,
Vehicles, teams, the heavy-plank’d wharves,
the huge crossing at the ferries,
The village on the highland seen from afar
at sunset, the river between,
Shadows, aureola and mist, the light falling on
roofs and gables of white or brown two miles off,
The schooner near by sleepily dropping down the
tide, the little boat slack-tow’d astern,
The hurrying tumbling waves, quick-brokencrests, slapping,
The strata of color’d clouds, the long bar of
maroon-tint away solitary by itself,
the spread of purity it lies motionless in,
The horizon’s edge, the flying sea-crow, the
fragrance of salt marsh and shore mud,
These became part of that child who went forth every day,
and who now goes, and will always go forth every day.
When I Consider How My Light is Spent
When I consider how my light is spent,
Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which is death to hide
Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest he returning chide;
“Doth God exact day-labor, light denied?”
I fondly ask; but Patience to prevent
That murmur, soon replies, “God doth not need
Either man’s work or his own gifts; who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
Is kingly. Thousands at his bidding speed
And post o’er land and ocean without rest;
They also serve who only stand and wait.”
It little profits that an idle king,
By this still hearth, among these barren crags,
Matched with an aged wife, I mete and dole
Unequal laws unto a savage race,
That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me.
I cannot rest from travel; I will drink
life to the lees. All times I have enjoyed
Greatly, have suffered greatly, both with those
that loved me, and alone; on shore, and when
Through scudding drifts the rainy Hyades
Vexed the dim sea. I am become a name;
For always roaming with a hungry heart
Much have I seen and known—cities of men
And manners, climates, councils, governments,
Myself not least, but honored of them all—
And drunk delight of battle with my peers,
Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy.
I am part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethrough
Gleams that untraveled world whose margin fades
Forever and forever when I move.
How dull it is to pause, to make an end.
To rust unburnished, not to shine in use!
As though to breathe were life! Life piled on life
Were all too little, and of one to me
Little remains; but every hour is saved
From that eternal silence, something more,
A bringer of new things; and vile it were
For some three suns to store and hoard myself,
And this gray spirit yearning in desire
To follow knowledge like a sinking star,
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.
This is my son, my own Telemachus,
To whom I leave the scepter and the isle—
Well-loved of me, discerning to fulfill
This labor, by slow prudence to make mild
A rugged people, and through soft degrees
Subdue them to the useful and the good.
Most blameless is he, centered in the sphere
Of common duties, decent not to fail
In offices of tenderness, and pay
Meet adoration to my household gods,
When I am gone. He works his work, I mine.
There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail;
There gloom the dark, broad seas. My mariners,
Souls that have toiled, and wrought, and thought with me—
That ever with a frolic welcome took
The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed
Free hearts, free foreheads—you and I are old;
Old age hath yet his honor and his toil.
Death closes all; but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with gods.
The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks;
The long day wanes; the slow moon climbs; the deep
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends.
‘Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
the sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down;
It may be that we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Though much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are—
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
—Alfred Lord Tennyson
A Psalm of Life
Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!—
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.
Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.
Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each to-morrow
Find us farther than to-day.
Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.
In the world’s broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!
Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act,—act in the living Present!
Heart within, and God o’erhead!
Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;
Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.
Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.
—Henry Wadsworth Longfellow