Introduction to Poetry

Introduction to Poetry
9th Pre-AP English
Poetry: A Definition
Visual impressions
Concentrated, intense language that makes
deliberate sound effects which can involve
rhythm, rhyme, or other sounds
Written in lines and stanzas rather than
sentences or paragraphs
Meaning is gleaned from understanding the
use of metaphor, symbol, imagery, etc.
Poetry: A Definition
Subject matter can cover the intellectually safe
or the profane; the marginal or society
Fixed or free form
Fixed form is a poem that may be categorized by
the pattern of its lines, meter, rhythm, or stanzas; a
style of poetry that has set rules. Ex: sonnet,
villanelle, limerick
Free Form is a poem that has neither regular
rhyme nor regular meter. Free verse often uses
cadences rather than uniform metrical feet.
Subject Matter of Poems
Love Poem, Political Poem, Metaphysical Poem,
Confessional Poem
Elegy (poem that reflects on death or solemn themes)
Epithalamion (poem that praises a wedding)
Proverb (a poem that imparts wisdom, learning, and aid
Found poem (poems that are discovered in everyday life)
Pun (word play, humor, or cleverness--“Pasteurize:
Too far to see.”)
Epigram (short, witty, concise saying—can be sarcastic
or parodic, about a person or an idea— “Swans sing
before they die--'twere no bad thing / should certain
people die before they sing!”)
How do you read a poem?
from pg. 489 in your text
Look for punctuation in the
poem telling you where
sentences being and end.
Do not make a full stop at
the end of a line if there is
no period, comma, colon,
semicolon, or dash there.
If a passage of a poem is
difficult to understand, look
for the subject, verb, and
complement of each
Be alert for comparisons—
for figures of speech.
Read the poem slowly and
out loud to help hear the
“musicality” of the poem.
Be patient, for poems can be
ambiguous or confusing.
Talk about it with others
who have read it, when
Read the poem several
Looking at a Poem
Hearing the Words
Rhyme (end, internal, approximate)
 Rhyme scheme (Roses are red. . .abcb)
 Neologism (a new word or expression)
 Oxymoron
Microsoft Works , Bitter Sweet, Anarchy Rules!
Looking at a Poem
Hearing the Words, con’t
Inversion - Beautiful is she.
Assonance - how now brown cow
Consonance - Whose woods these are I think I
Alliteration - She sells seashells by the seashore
Onomatopoeia - snap, crackle, pop
A few words on diction. . .
evil or danger
any of numerous
scaly, legless,
venomous reptiles;
having a long,
cylindrical body
and found in most
tropical and
temperate regions
Looking at a Poem
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds
Or bends with the remover to remove. —Shakespeare
Flow of language and the Sound of the Poem
My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun.
Coral is far more red than her lips red. –Shakespeare
cadence -- the drum beat of words
caesura-- E.B. Browning: “How do I love thee?//Let me count the ways.”
dissonance - Are you lamenting because your enjambment is not working
in your couplet?
Fixed form
Iambic pentameter (blank verse with 5 feet of iambs—daDUM daDUM
daDUM daDUM daDUM—But soft, what light through yonder window
Free verse (aka Free form)
NOTE: see page 740 – 741 in your book
Looking at a Poem
Quoth the raven, "Nevermore.“
Synaesthesia / Synesthesia
‘a deafening yellow’; ‘sunburnt mirth”
swift-footed Achilles; rosy-fingered dawn; Ivan the
Looking at a Poem
Lines - a single line of poetry.
Stanzas - a group of lines set off from the other
lines in a poem; the poetic equivalent of a
paragraph in prose. In traditional poems, the stanza
usually contains a unit of thought, much like a
The winged seeds, where they lie cold and low,
Each like a corpse within its grave, until
Thine azure sister of the Spring shall blow
Punctuation – used for emphasis
Structure of images / symbols within the poem
Watch for colors, patterns, figurative language
Types of Poems
14-line poem with specific rhyme scheme
English (a.k.a. Shakespearean)
 ababcdcdefefgg (three quartrains and a couplet)
 Italian (a.k.a. Petrarchan)
 abbaabbacdecde (octet, sestet, volta is between
lines 8 and 9)
Example of Sonnet
Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.
Types of Poems
Haiku – Japanese poem with 17 syllables -first line has 5, second has 7, last line has 5.
It combines form, content, and language in a
meaningful, yet compact form
Haiku doesn't rhyme. A Haiku must "paint" a
mental image in the reader's mind.
A Rainbow by Donna Brock
Curving up, then down.
Meeting blue sky and green earth
Melding sun and rain.
Types of Poems
Cinquain: a poem with five lines
Line 1 is one word (the title)
Line 2 is two words that describe the title.
Line 3 is three words that tell the action
Line 4 is four words that express the feeling
Line 5 is one word that recalls the title
Strong, Tall
Swaying, swinging, sighing
Memories of summer
Types of Poems
Villanelle - 19 lines long, but only uses two rhymes, while also
repeating two lines throughout the poem. The first five stanzas
are triplets, and the last stanza is a quatrain such that the rhyme
scheme is as follows: "aba aba aba aba aba abaa." The tricky part
is that the 1st and 3rd lines from the first stanza are alternately
repeated such that the 1st line becomes the last line in the second
stanza, and the 3rd line becomes the last line in the third stanza.
The last two lines of the poem are lines 1 and 3 respectively,
making a rhymed couplet. Confused? A villanelle needs no
particular meter or line length. It is terribly obsessive and can
bring out the emotions of any neurotic writer.
Example of a Villanelle
“Do Not Go Gentle
Into That Good
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
By Dylan Thomas
Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Types of Poems
Dramatic Monologue: a poem in which a
single speaker who is not the poet utters the
entire poem at a critical moment. The speaker
has a listener within the poem, but we too are
his/her listener, and we learn about the
speaker's character from what the speaker says.
In fact, the speaker may reveal unintentionally
certain aspects of his/her character. Robert
Browning perfected this form.
Example of Dramatic Monologue
“My Last Duchess” by Robert Browning
“Ain’t I a Woman?” by Sojourner Truth
See page 611 in your textbook
“Lucinda Matlock” by Edgar Lee Masters
See page 607 in your textbook
Types of Poems
Ode: usually a lyric poem of moderate length,
with a serious subject, an elevated style, and
an elaborate stanza pattern. There are various
kinds of odes. The ode often praises people,
the arts of music and poetry, natural scenes, or
abstract concepts.
Types of Poems
Elegy: a sad and thoughtful poem lamenting
the death of a person.
Limerick: short sometimes bawdy,
humorous poems consisting of five anapestic
lines. Lines 1, 2, and 5 of a limerick have
seven to ten syllables and rhyme with one
another. Lines 3 and 4 have five to seven
syllables and also rhyme with each other.
Example of Limerick
There was an Old Person whose habits,
Induced him to feed upon rabbits;
When he'd eaten eighteen,
He turned perfectly green,
Upon which he relinquished those habits.
Types of Poems
Ballad (folk and literary) Randall’s “The
Ballad of Birmingham”
Epic – Homer’s Illiad and Odyssey
Concrete Poem
Example of Concrete Poem
Bird #3
by Don J. Carlson
raven told
him nothing nevermore
and Vincent's circling
crows were a threat to destroy
sunlight. Now I saw a bird, black with a yellow
beak, orange rubber legs
pecking to kill the
lawn, storm bird
hates with claw,
evil beak,
and eye
Figures of Speech
Simile – She’s as big as a house.
Metaphor –
Direct: She’s a brick house.
Implied: The man brayed his refusal to leave. (because the
subject--the man--is never overtly identified as a mule)
Extended: See the next slide “Catch”
Dead: tying up loose ends, a submarine sandwich, a branch
of government, and most clichés
Mixed:The movie struck a spark that massaged the
audience's conscience.
Personification – The house creaked with old age.
Example of an extended metaphor
“Catch” by Robert Francis
Two boys uncoached are tossing a poem together,
Overhand, underhand, backhand, sleight of hand, everyhand,
Teasing with attitudes, latitudes, interludes, altitudes,
High, make him fly off the ground for it, low, make him stoop,
Make him scoop it up, make him as-almost-as possible miss it,
Fast, let him sting from it, now, now fool him slowly,
Anything, everything tricky, risky, nonchalant,
Anything under the sun to outwit the prosy,
Over the tree and the long sweet cadence down,
Over his head, make him scramble to pick up the meaning,
And now, like a posy, a pretty one plump in his hands.
Robert Francis' poem "Catch" relies on an extended metaphor that
compares poetry to playing catch. A controlling metaphor runs through an
entire work and determines the form or nature of that work.'
Examples of Language
Metonymy (one term for another with which it is
commonly associated or closely related.)
the pen is mightier than the sword
the crown (referring to a Queen or King)
all hands on deck
Synecdoche (part for the whole)
give us this day our daily bread
The U.S. won three gold medals. (Instead of “The members
of the U.S. boxing team won three gold medals.”)
Irony, doncha think?
Irony involves a contradiction. "In general, irony is the perception of a clash
between appearance and reality, between seems and is, or between
ought and is.”
Verbal irony--Saying something contrary to what it means. In daily
language, being ironic means that you say something but mean the opposite
to what you say. "Oh, how lucky we are to have SO MANY AP classes to
choose from!" Depending on how you say it, there is a contradiction
between your literal meaning and your actual meaning--and this is what
we call verbal (rhetoric) irony.
Dramatic irony -- Saying or doing something while unaware of its ironic
contrast with the whole truth; verbal irony with the speaker's awareness
erased" -- so that the irony is on the speaker him/herself, but not what s/he
talks about.
Situational irony-- Events turning to the opposite of what is expected or
what should be. The ironic situation --the "ought" upended by the is -- is
integral to dramatic irony. In Alanis Morissete's “Ironic" we can see a lot
of situational ironies -- or ironies of fate.
Cool article explaining the song "Ironic"
Watch Your Tone!
"The word tone in literary discussion is
borrowed from the expression tone of voice.
Tone is the manner in which a poet makes his
statement; it reflects his attitude toward his
subject. Since printed poems lack the
intonations of spoken words, the reader must
learn to "hear" their tones with his mind's ear.
Tone cannot be heard in one particular place
since it reflects a general attitude, it pervades
the whole poem." (Poems: Wadsworth Handbook and Anthology by
C. F. Main & Peter J. Seng)
Hey, DIDLS diddle. . .
Use DIDLS to consider the tone of a poem.
Diction—the connotation of the word choice
Consider the following when discussing diction
Images—vivid appeals to understanding through the
Details—Facts that are included or omitted
Language—The overall use of language, formal,
colloquial, clinical, jargon, etc...
Sentence Structure—How structure affects the
reader’s attitude
We’ll save this for another powerpoint ;)
One last note. . .
The speaker of the poem IS NOT necessarily the poet. It
is a persona (a character) used to “voice” the poem.
The speaker addresses an audience or another
character. Identify and describe the speaking voice or
voices, the conflicts or ideas, and the language used
in the poem.