What does “Economy of Language”
 Poetry allows us to say a lot by using only a few
 In poetry, every word is very carefully chosen in
order to convey meaning.
 Poems are ABOUT words. Word choice is far and
away the most important aspect of a poem.
 We know that we’ve found an effective poem when
taking out any word would change the meaning or
tone of the poem.
 “Poems are the glowing bones of language.”
-Baron Wormser and David Cappella
 Rhyme
 Rhythm/ Foot and Meter
 Tone
 Symbolism (includes Metaphor, Allegory, Allusion,
Simile, etc.)
 Theme/Meaning
What Makes a Poem?
 Ezra Pound’s “In a Station of the Metro”
 “In a Station of the Metro”
The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.
 The repetition of different sounds within words in
order to create a sense of unity and order within a
Roses are red
Violets are blue
When I walk into this
It feels like a zoo
 In this poem, “blue” and
“zoo” rhyme, creating a
repetition of sounds that
are pleasing to the ear.
 The beat, pace, or “flow” of words within a line or stanza.
 Meter and foot are how the lines are planned out (terms
like “iambic pentameter” that we will look at later).
 Literally, rhythm dictates how the poem will sound when
spoken aloud.
 Many different factors influence the rhythm of a poem,
including the length of words, the accented syllables of
words, the length of lines themselves, and the length of
 The whiskey on your breath
Could make a small boy dizzy;
But I hung on like death:
Such waltzing was not easy.
We romped until the pans
Slid from the kitchen shelf;
My mother's countenance
Could not unfrown itself.
(from “My Papa’s Waltz” by
Theodore Roethke)
 In this example, the
whole stanza is in a
constant sound pattern,
mimicking that of an
actual waltz.
 Some poems speed up,
slow down, etc., based on
the rhythm and meter;
this one stays pretty
RHYTHM: Foot and Meter
 FOOT: layout of accented syllables
 iamb -- one unaccented or weakly accented syllable
followed by one strong accent (ex: my head was hot)
trochee -- one strong accent followed by one weak or
unaccented syllable, (ex: dreadful)
anapest -- two weakly accented syllables followed by
one strong stress (ex: at the time of the President's lunch)
dactyl -- one strong stress, followed by two weakly
accented or unaccented syllables (ex: See in the dark
what the officer's doing there)
spondee -- two hard stresses in successive syllables (ex:
Drop dead! )
RHYTHM: Foot and Meter, cont’d
 METER: Number and structure of “feet” in a line of
 one foot is a monometer, 2 feet is a dimeter, and so
on -- trimeter (3), tetrameter (4), pentameter (5),
hexameter (6), heptameter (7), and octameter (8).
 Put it together: a poem in which each line has five
iambs (pairs of a weakly accented syllable followed
by a strongly-accented syllable) would be said to be
written in iambic pentameter.
RHYTHM: Foot and Meter, cont’d
 iambic pentameter (5 iambs, 10 syllables) :
That time | of year | thou mayst | in me | behold
 trochaic tetrameter (4 trochees, 8 syllables) :
Tell me | not in | mournful | numbers
 anapestic trimeter (3 anapests, 9 syllables):
And the sound | of a voice | that is still
 dactylic hexameter (6 dactyls, 17 syllables; a trochee replaces the
last dactyl):
This is the | forest pri | meval, the | murmuring | pine and the |
 The feeling generated within the reader, based on the
word choice and rhythm of a poem. This is a tough
concept to try to analyze, but we know how a poem
makes us feel when we hear it.
 Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow; - vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow - sorrow for the lost Lenore For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels named Lenore Nameless here for evermore.
(from Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven”)
 Obviously, the tone here is a dark one; a good word to
use would be “foreboding”. The choice of words –
“bleak December,” “dying ember,” “ghost,” “sorrow” –
helps create this feeling within the reader.
 How words and images are used in place of other
words and images, in order to convey a deeper
 Allusion, allegory, metaphor, and simile are all
different kinds of symbolism, but would also fall
under this category.
 Ah Sunflower, weary of time,
Who countest the steps of the sun;
Seeking after that sweet golden clime
Where the traveller's journey is done;
Where the Youth pined away with desire,
And the pale virgin shrouded in snow,
Arise from their graves, and aspire
Where my Sunflower wishes to go!
(William Blake’s “The Sunflower”)
 In this poem, the sunflower is a metaphor for the passage of life. We
will take a closer look at specific examples of allegory, simile, allusion,
and metaphor later this year.
 The meaning that the reader derives from the poem;
what the reader interprets the poem to be about.
I think I should have loved you presently,
And given in earnest words I flung in jest;
And lifted honest eyes for you to see,
And caught your hand against my cheek and
And all my pretty follies flung aside
That won you to me, and beneath your gaze,
Naked of reticence and shorn of pride,
Spread like a chart my little wicked ways.
I, that had been to you, had you remained,
But one more waking from a recurrent
Cherish no less the certain stakes I gained,
And walk your memory's halls, austere,
A ghost in marble of a girl you knew
Who would have loved you in a day or two.
(“I think I should have loved you
presently,” by Edna St. Vincent
 Although meaning can be
subjective and interpretive,
most readers would agree that
this poem is “about” a woman
who has regrets over how she
treated an ex-boyfriend while
they were still together.
 There are no “wrong answers”
when it comes to
interpretation… but there are
“foul balls.” Let’s try to keep all
our interpretations “in play,”
shall we?
So, now back to Ezra Pound…
 “In a Station of the Metro”
The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.