Posting Public Domain Works

The poem itself

1. Find a good, copyright-free text of the poem that’s typed in to act as a base–Gutenberg or Wikisource texts are generally good as absolute raw material.   Your own typing of them from a paper copy or Google Books photos will often commit new faults.  Likewise, the text recognition from Google Books can be used as a base, but is usually quite a mess (though not always).

  • Title of the poem should go in the header
  • Title thereafter–in title caps, not all caps
  • By Author Name
  • Please do not allcaps first word, regardless of source
  • Keep lineation and spacing complete.  Remove line numbers, tables, and links from web source.

2. Do some Google Books searching and primary bib searching to find out the history of the text.  Where did it first appear? Try to find that text.  If there’s a Collected Works or Complete Works after the poet’s death that’s still public domain, try to find that one.  If possible, you can run a Juxta comparison.   Compare your typed-in text with what seems like the most authoritative Google Books image you can find published in the Author’s lifetime or before 1923.

3. Correct the poem as needed.  Do not make corrections that are not authorial. (Don’t fix commas or spelling just to standardize to modern practice)

4. Add a text note explaining the textual history, and link to the most reliable text you can find, and make a bib entry for it (See the “Wild Honey-Suckle”)

5. You may add textual notes explaining allusions or difficult terminology, linking to outside information, context, or whatever (never link to undergraduate papers online, cliffs notes, or other sources less authoritative than yours).  If a poem’s about a specific animal and their markings matter, link to a public-domain picture. If it’s a place, you might profitably mark to a map or an image if you find one.

6. Tag the post as needed with author, century, theme, etc.

7.  Make a new post called Poemtitle — Commentary

  • Keep it to a few paragraphs–the equivalent of three pages or so.  Keep it in light web-friendly language. Feel free to use headers.  Imagine you’re teaching a first time teacher or a student of the environment and lit a little bit about this work and its importance.
  • In paragraph one, give a summary of what the poem is, who wrote it, when, and what its general theme or gist is.  Then mention what it has to teach us about American’s imaginative and poetic engagement with the environment or nature.
  • Provide any context you like for when, why, and how the thing was written–what was going on at the time of composition.
  • Run through a few high points, give a few points of brief explication.
  • Talk about any major ecocritical treatments of the work, if they exist. Otherwise mention major critical treatments.
  • Link to Google Books treatments, or just mention articles and give bib entries.  Try to find at least two good ones.  Remember to search the MLAIB, Google Books, and Google Scholar, and to use author bibliographies if they exist and you can get them.
  • These can be edited for the length of the semester as new information comes up.
  • Put a link to the commentary at the bottom of the text of your poem.

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