Uploaded by Viranthi Cooray

Poetry Notes

Poetry Notes
**DISCLAIMER: I am a poet. Poetry may not be easy on the first try all the time, but
you will most likely find a poem that you connect with. Read poems once. Then read
them again. Then read them one more time. Read them aloud if that helps. Have
someone else read them to you. Do all these things if you like. You will catch on if you
work at it.
Poem: a passage about a moment in time usually characterized by line breaks and other
rhetorical figures
Lyric poem: conveys mostly emotion
Narrative poem: conveys mostly a story
Dramatic monologue: one persona tells a tale
Speaker: the voice telling the poem
-akin to a narrator in a story
Stanza: lines of poetry that belong together, similar to a paragraph, [sometimes called a
verse (as in a song) but sometimes we refer to a poem overall as a verse or simply
verse, so let’s go with stanza]
Quatrain: four line stanza
Couplet: two line stanza
Sestet: six line stanza
End-stopped line: a line that conveys meaning without having to go to the next
Enjambed line: a line that does not convey full meaning, forcing the reader to go on to the
next line
Explication: explaining the meaning of a poem, line by line, or stanza by stanza
Conceit: the underlying meaning of a poem
-akin to a story’s theme
Form poetry: verse written according to specific rules
Heroic couplet: almost always embodies a single thought in two rhymed lines (aa bb cc)
Shakespearean Sonnet: 16 line poem of three quatrains and one couplet
Volta: twist/turn in argument; usually occurs in the end of the third quatrain and the
Some poetry has specific rhythm. We call that poetic meter.
Some poetry has a stress pattern.
Shakespearean sonnets use iambic pentameter
Iambic refers to iambs—two syllables; the first is unstressed, the second stressed
For example, the word “alas” is an iamb. The words, “a boat” is an iamb.
Pentameter refers to five iambs per line (pent means five).
Therefore, one line of iambic pentameter has five iambs.
Therefore, one line of iambic pentameter has ten syllables.
One unit of a stress and meter pattern is called a foot.
For example:
Alas, my brain is weak and overworked.
A boat has come to take the queen away.
If you still can’t hear the stress pattern:
A las a boat
If you don’t stress the first syllable in the word “alas” it will sound like the name
“Alice”—Alice is not an iamb (it’s a trochee, but you don’t need to know that)
When we try to figure out the stress pattern and rhyme scheme, we scan a line. That’s
called scansions.
Poetic Meters and Patterns
Iambic: 2 syl, unstressed, stressed
(alas / a boat / has sailed / away) tetrameter
Trochaic: 2 syl, stressed, unstressed
(never / ever / never / ever / never) pentameter
Anapestic: 3 syl, unstressed, unstressed, stressed (in an an/apest up/beats start out/in
Dactylic: 3 syl, stressed, unstressed, unstressed (dactyls are difficult) dimeter
Spondaic: 2 syl, stressed, stressed
(John Keats)
Pyrrhic: 2 syl, unstress, unstressed (not possible in the English language)
Other forms of poems and their rules are listed at the end of these notes. Feel free to take
a look at them. They are followed by a list of poems that are good for rounding out any
poetic knowledge. They are not required, but they can be fun to read in the future.
Rhetorical Figures
Alliteration: repetition of consonant sound at the beginning of successive words: Peter
Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers
Allusion: reference to an outside source
Anaphora: successive lines beginning with the same word
Antithesis: balanced opposites: like ebony and ivory
Apostrophe: addressing an abstract idea as if it were tangible: Oh, honesty, you are cruel
Assonance: repetition of vowel sound at the beginning of successive words: Only Ollie
owns one
Catalog: list
Chiasmus: a rhetorical construction in which the order of the words in the second of two
paired phrases is the reverse of the order in the first: gray was the morn, all things were
Diction: word or name choice
Diminutio/litotes: negating the opposite: not unhappy
Enumeratio: list (rhetorical handbooks)
Hyperbole: drastic exaggeration: so hungry I could eat a horse
Effictio/Blazon: enumeration of external qualities: her hair, her eyes, her lips
Ethopoeia: internal qualities: her love, her luck, her courage
Epic dis-simile: comparison of what something is not like using many lines
Epic Simile: comparison using many lines; as x . . . . so y . . . . .
Imagery: using sensory details to paint a picture with words
Irony: the opposite of what you expect: In “The Story of an Hour,” Mrs. Mallard is
happy to know that her husband is dead; when she finds he’s alive, she dies
Juxtaposition: placing two very different images together: a butterfly on a corpse
Metaphor: comparison not using like or as: the road is a ribbon
Objective Correlative: using a specific word or phrase to evoke an universal image, that
almost guarantees eliciting a specific emotion from the reader; the conviction that certain
words are inherently tied to specific emotion
Occupatio: writer excuses self from telling a particular story (then tells it anyway): I
won’t go into how he got arrested last night
Oxymoron: combining elements that don’t seem to go together: jumbo shrimp
Polyptoton: use same base word in related words: the kind of person who is unkind
Personification: giving inanimate objects human qualities: the sun smiles down
Repetition: using the same word or phrase several times either consecutively or
Setting: when and where the story takes place
Simile: comparison using like or as: teeth as white as pearls
Symbol: a name or recurring object that stands for a larger meaning In Woman Warrior,
the narrator describes a circular table, circular plates, a wedding ring, and a well; all
symbolize the circle of life.
Tenor: thing being described in a comparison
Tone: the mood
Vehicle: the thing that the tenor is being compared to
Here’s that extra stuff I was talking about at the beginning of the notes.
Villanelle (v)
19 lines, 5 stanzas of 3 each, last stanza has 4
Line 1 of stanza 1 = Last line of Stanzas 2 and 4
Line 3 of stanza 1 = Last line of Stanzas 3 and 4
Lines 1 and 3 of stanza 1 = last two lines of last stanza
Aba rhyme scheme
Began with Jean Passerat
Sestina (ses)
39 lines, 6 stanzas of 6 lines each, envoi of 3 lines at end
same 6 end words in lexical repetition:
Line 6 word of stanza 1 = line 1 last word of stanza 2
Line 1 last word of stanza 1 = line 2 last word of stanza 2
Line 5 last word of stanza 1 = line 3 last word of stanza 2
Line 2 last word of stanza 1 = line 4 last word of stanza 2
Line 4 last word of stanza 1 = line 5 last word of stanza 2
Line 3 last word of stanza 1 = line 6 last word of stanza 2
Envoi gathers and deploys all 6 end words
12th C troubadours; Arunaut Daniel in S of France
Pantoume (pan)
Unspecified length using quatrains
Must have same beginning and ending line
2nd and 4th lines of first stanza = 1st and 3rd of next
abab rhyme scheme
Final stanza = unrepeated 1st and 3rd lines used in reverse as 2nd and 4th lines
Malayan; Erest Fouinet
Ballad (bal)
Quatrains: 1st and 3rd lines = iambic tetrameter / 2nd and 4th lines = iambic trimester
Abab or abcb
Break, Blow, Burn Camille Paglia
100 Great Poems of the 20th Century ed. Mark Strand
The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics
Good Poems Garrison Keillor
Northern Elegies
Anna Akhmatova
All American Girl
Bad Weather Friends
Julia Alvarez
We Have Done Our Duty
Yehuda Amichai
The City Limits
A R Ammons
Carlos Drummond de Andrade
Still I Rise
On The Pulse Of Morning
Maya Angelou
John Ashberry
In Memory of WB Yeats (el)
Musee des Beaux Arts
W H Auden
Drama Song 324 (el)
John Berryman
To The Dead (el)
California Plush
The Twentieth Century
Frank Bidart
In The Waiting Room
One Art (v)
The Weed
The Fish
Elizabeth Bishop
The Once-Over
Paul Blackburn
The Chimney Sweep
The Tyger
William Blake
Evening In The Sanitarium
Louise Bogan
What Language Did
Eavan Boland
The Rooms of Other Women Poets
The Story After The Story
Author to Her Book (hc)
Anne Bradstreet
Here Follows Some Verses Burning (el)
My Last Duchess (hc)
Robert Browning
Lewis Carroll
Fog (pas)
Amy Clampett
Lucille Clifton
The Pink And The Black
Henri Cole
Wanda Why Aren’t You Dead
Wanda Coleman
Kubla Khan
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Reading Scheme (v)
Wendy Cope
The Bridge (ode)
Hart Crane
Elegy for NY
Douglas Crase
America (ode)
Robert Creeley
In just
Now is a ship
ee cummings
Urban Pastoral
Babette Deutsch
Because I Could Not Stop
For Death
Alabaster Chambers
Soul Selects Society
Robert Desnos
Emily Dickinson
The Flea
Holy Sonnet I
Holy Sonnet XIV
John Donne
Farewell to Love
Michael Drayton
Warming Her Pearls
Carol Ann Duffy
The Taxi
Russell Edson
The Lovesong of J. Alfred
The Wasteland
T. S. Eliot
Missing Dates (v)
William Empson
Letter to Daphnis (hc)
Anne Finch
Directive (bv)
The Road Less Taken
Fire and Ice
Robert Frost
A Supermarket In California
Allen Ginsberg
Mocking Orange
A Fable
Louise Gluck
Reading Plato
Jorie Graham
The J Car (hc)
Tom Gunn
Villanelle (v)
Marilyn Hacker
The Convergence of the Twain
Thomas Hardy
Perhaps The World Ends Here (ode) Joy Harjo
Meditations at Lagonitas (pas)
Robert Hass
Those Winter Sundays
Robert Hayden
Seamus Heany
More Light More Light
A Hill
Anthony Hecht
Church Monuments
The Quip
Easter Wings
George Herbert
Mr. Cogito Thinks About Hell
I Would Like To Describe
Zbigniew Herbert
Things I Didn’t Know I Loved
Nazim Hikmet
By The Sound (v)
John Hollander
Pied Beauty
Gerard Manley Hopkins
I, Too
Theme for English B
Langston Hughes
The Death of The Ball Turret
Poem After Receiving A
Poem For A Young Poet
Bosnia Bosnia
Randall Jarrell
June Jordan
Ode On A Grecian Urn (pas)
John Keats
After The Trial (ses)
Weldon Kees
Parents Pantoume
Carolyn Kizer
One Train May Hide Another
Kenneth Koch
From The Porch (pas)
John Koethe
My Makeup
Rochelle Kraut
Home Is So Sad
Philip Larkin
The Big Mystical Circus
Jorge de Lima
Arbole Arbole
City That Does Not Sleep
Federico Garcia Lorca
Man and Wife
Robert Lowell
Ars Poetica
Archibald MacLeish
You, Andrew Marvell
Bagpipe Music (bal)
Louis MacNeice
Passionate Shepherd To His Love
Christopher Marlow
To His Coy Mistress
The Garden (pas)
Andrew Marvell
The Method (pan)
JD McClatchy
Tropics In NY
The Harlem Dancer
If We Must Die
Claude McKay
A Quoi Bon Dire
Charlotte Mew
I Am Writing To You From
A Far Off Country
Henri Michaux
Edna St. Vincent Millay
What Lips My Lips Have Kissed (son)
Elegy for N N
Ars Poetica?
Czeslaw Milosz
Love Canal
For A Daughter Who Leaves
Janice Mirikitani
Eugeneo Montale
Paper Nautilus (ode)
Marianne Moore
Carol Muske
Very Like A Whale
Tale of Custard the Dragon
Ogden Nash
Ode To The Watermelon
The Song of Desperation
Pablo Neruda
Mexican Guitar
Ave Maria
Frank O’Hara
Language of the Brag
Sharon Olds
Wild Geese
Mary Oliver
Undertaking in NJ
George Oppen
Morning Star
Cesare Pavese
Ode To Meaning
The Shirt
Robert Pinsky
Sylvia Plath
Ralph Pomeroy
The River-Merchant’s Wife
In A Station of The Metro
Ezra Pound
Heart of the Matter (pas)
Susan Prospere
Nani (ses)
Alberto Rios
Diving Into The Wreck
Adrienne Rich
Departures III
Yannos Ritsos
Root Cellar
Theodore Roethke
Sestina of the Lady Peitry (ses)
DG Rossetti
Muriel Rukeyser
The Tornado
Breakfast of Runnersup
Peter Schmitt
Anne Sexton
For My Lover Returning To His Wife
Wanting To Die
Supernatural Love
Gjertrude Shackenberg
Sonnet 73
Sonnet 29
P. B. Shelley
Miracle Glass Co. (ode)
Charles Simic
Not Waving But Drowning
To Carry The Child
Stevie Smith
April Inventory
W D Snodgrass
Disillusionment of 10 o’clock
Anecdote on a Jar
Postcard from the Volcano
Wallace Stevens
That Winter
Ruth Stone
Rain and the Tyrants
Jules Supervielle
At East River
Old Pond
Gary Snyder
The End and the Beginning
The Suicide’s Room
Wislawa Szymborska
Night Song In Amalfi
Sara Teasdale
Fern Hill
Do Not Go Gentle (v)
Dylan Thomas
Rain (bv)
Edward Thomas
An Attempt at Jealousy
Marina Tsvetaeva
Rose Nocturnal
Xavier Villaurrutia
Paragraph Made Up Of 7
Chuck Wachtel
Midsummer Tabago
Derek Walcott
Song of Myself
O Captain My Captain (el)
Walt Whitman
Lying (bv)
Richard Wilbur
The Shrinking Lonesome Sestina
Miller Williams
The Red Wheelbarrow
This Is Just To Say
Spring and All
William Carlos Williams
Grandmother’s Song (pan)
Nellie Wong
The World Is Too Much With Us
Westminster Bridge
Looking West from Laguna Beach
Ars Poetica
Charles Wright
From Pamphilia to
Amphilanthus (son)
Mary Wroth
Peter and John (bal)
Elinor Wylie
The Second Coming
Leda The Swan
In Memory of Eva Gore Booth
Circus Animals’ Desertion
William Butler Yeats
That’s How We Are
Andrea Zanzotto
The Day Zimmer Lost His
Wanda Being Beautiful
Dog Music
Paul Zimmer