Poetry Unit
A kind of rhythmic, compressed language that uses
figures of speech and imagery to appeal to the
reader’s emotions and imagination
One of the oldest forms of communication
Often sung
Passed down from generation to generation
Meant to be read aloud
Read a poem several times to get the feel of it
Poetry v. Prose
 Prose
= anything that is not poetry
 Poetry is a language which says more
and says it more intensely than prose
 Poets say the same thing as prose
writers. . . They just say it with fewer
The Implied
 Poets
often write with implied ideas.
That is. . .
Reader must make an educated guess to the
idea that is suggested
 Make inferences
What a poem is written in; may or may not
be complete sentences
 Pay attention to punctuation- just because
a line ends, that doesn’t mean the
sentence or thought has ended. This is
one of the keys to understanding poetry!
Numbering Lines in Poetry
5’s only
The purpose of numbering lines is to make it easier to make reference
to something in the poem
Battle in the Sky by Shel Silverstein
It wasn't quite day and it wasn't quite night,
'Cause the sun and the moon were both in sight,
A situation quite all right
With everyone else but them.
So they both made remarks about who gave more light
And who was the brightest and prettiest sight,
And the sun gave a bump and the moon gave a bite,
And the terrible sky fight began.
With a scorch and a sizzle, a screech and a shout,
Across the great heavens they tumbled about,
And the moon had a piece of the sun in its mouth,
While the sun burned the face of the moon.
A group of consecutive lines that forms a
single unit
Something like a paragraph in prose
 Often expresses a unit of thought
 May consist of any number of lines
 In some poems, each stanza has the same rhyme
I’m Nobody!
I’m Nobody! Who are you?
Are you Nobody too?
Then there’s a pair of us!
Don’t tell! They’d banish us, you know!
How dreary to be Somebody!
How public - like a Frog To tell your name the livelong June
To an admiring Bog!
- Emily Dickinson
If I Can Stop One Heart from
If I can stop one Heart from breaking
I shall not live in vain
If I can ease one Life the Aching
Or cool one Pain
Or help one fainting Robin
Unto his Nest again
I shall not live in Vain.
- Emily Dickinson
Emily Dickinson*
She wrote nearly 1,800 poems, but only 7
were published during her lifetime.
 She is known as the mysterious woman in
 She rarely left her property. In the last 12
years of her life, she left only once to visit
an eye doctor!
 1830 – 1886
An Introduction to Literary Devices in
 Some
of these terms will be familiar to
you, while others will be new
 Alliteration
 Couplet
 Image
 Metaphor
 Onomatopoeia
- Personification
- Refrain
- Rhyme scheme
- Simile
- Stanza
A theme in poetry is the main idea of the
poem and/or the authors' feelings about it.
Understanding a central theme in poetry
takes some concentrating on each individual
poem. Some themes stand out, some are
 Some common themes are love, friendship,
betrayal, good vs. evil, the fight for survival,
and regret.
“Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night”
by Dylan Thomas
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.
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 that 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.
“Me Against the World” by Tupac
With all this extra stressin
The question I wonder is after death, after my last breath
When will I finally get to rest? Through this supression
They punish the people that's askin questions
And those that possess, steal from the ones without possessions
The message I stress: to make it stop study your lessons
Don't settle for less - even a genius asks questions
Be grateful for blessings
Don't ever change, keep your essence
The power is in the people and politics we address
Always do your best, don't let the pressure make you panic
And when you get stranded
And things don't go the way you planned it
Dreamin of riches, in a position of makin a difference
Politicians and hypocrites, they don't wanna listen
If I'm insane, it's the fame made a brother change
It wasn't nuttin like the game
It's just me against the world
Your reward for those two
hard poems???
Tone vs. Mood
The tone of the poem is the attitude you feel in it- the
writer’s attitude towards the subject of the poem. It can be
angry, sinister, joyous, sad, etc. The mood is very close to
the tone as the tone often adds to the mood of the poem.
The mood is the overall feeling of the poem. This can be
created by the tone or by the language choices of the
poem. For example, if the mood is sad there may be a lot
of words that are related to death. There may also be lots
of punctuation that slows the reader down, or the writer
may use a rhythm that is quite somber. Tone and mood are
very similar. If you can figure out one, you’ve probably
figured out the other.
The tone of a poem is the attitude you feel
in it — the writer's attitude toward the
subject or audience. The tone in a poem of
praise is approval. In a satire, you feel irony.
In an antiwar poem, you may feel protest or
moral indignation. Tone can be playful,
humorous, regretful, anything — and it can
change as the poem goes along.
Tone (Continued)
When you speak, your tone of voice suggests
your attitude. In fact, it suggests two
attitudes: one concerning the people you're
addressing (your audience) and one
concerning the thing you're talking about
(your subject). That's what the term tone
means when it's applied to poetry as well.
Tone can also mean the general emotional
weather of the poem.
Tone (Continued)
Sometimes tone is fairly obvious. You can, for example, find
poems that are absolutely furious. The Scots poet Hugh
MacDiarmid didn't care for mercenary soldiers (men who
fight not because they believe in a cause, but because
someone is paying them to fight). Here is MacDiarmid's
very angry "Another Epitaph on an Army of Mercenaries":
It is a ***-****** lie to say that these
Saved, or knew, anything worth any man's pride.
They were professional murderers and they took
Their blood money and impious risks and died.
In spite of all their kind some elements of worth
With difficulty persist here and there on earth.
Tone (Continued)
Poetry is already so packed with emotion that seeing a
poet swearing right at the start may be a shock, but
MacDiarmid does exactly that. He makes the disturbing
move of insulting the dead soldiers, calling them
"professional murderers." Usually, people try not to speak
ill of the dead, but evidently MacDiarmid thinks so little of
the mercenaries that he feels justified in insulting them. In
the last two lines, he implies that, with such evil men in
existence, human goodness persists only "with difficulty."
These clues lead you to MacDiarmid's tone and his attitude
toward his subject: contempt.
A nonhuman thing is given human-like
qualities and characteristics
 Disney movies
The soft gray hands of sleep
Toiled all night long
To spin a beautiful garment
Of dreams
- Edward Silvera, from “Forgotten Dreams”
group of words repeated at
intervals in a poem, song, or
 Often
used to build rhythm
 Can also emphasize the main
theme of the work
A group of words repeated at intervals in a
poem, song, or speech. (Same as a chorus in
a song.)
 Examples:
“I have a dream. . .”
- Martin Luther King, Jr.
“I’ve got a feeling. . .”
-Black Eyed Peas
The physical structure of a poem
 There are 55 different kinds!
 Ones you may have heard of: haiku,
concrete, found, limerick, narrative, quatrain,
Narrative and Lyric Poems
Narrative poems tell a
story (Can be either an
epic or a ballad)
It has a plot
The focus is often on the
pros and cons of life
Romantic- involves
chivalry (has a hero who
saves the day)
Example: “The
Highwayman” by Alfred
Example: “The Ballad of
Bonnie and Clyde” by
Bonnie Parker
Lyric poem- any short
Sonnets- Have 14 lines,
are highly musical and
Example: “Sonnet 18” by
William Shakespeare
Javan’s Poems
“Sonnet 18” by William Shakespeare
Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate;
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date;
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm'd;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature's changing course untrimm'd;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow'st;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow'st:
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.
Javan Poems
I am not very good
At this Game called Life
For I've not learned to see children
Without feeling pain
For I've not learned to watch animals
Without wondering why
For I've not yet met a king or celebrity
That I would bow down to
Or a man so insignificant
That I would use for a stepping-stone
For I've not learned to be a "yes man"
To narrow minded bosses
Who quote rules without reason
And I've not learned to manipulate
The feelings of others
To be used for my own advantages
Then cast aside as I see fit
No, I am not very good
At the Game called Life
And if everything goes well
Maybe I never will be
We are born into the World
Like a blank canvas
And every person that crosses our path
Takes up the brush
And makes their mark
Upon our surface
So it is that we develop
But we must realize there comes a day
That we must take up the brush
And finish the work
For only we can determine
If we are to be
Just another painting
Or a Masterpiece
Epic Poems
Very long, book-length poems
 Examples:
Paradise Lost by John Milton
 The Divine Comedy by Dante
 Beowulf
A parody deliberately copies the form or
pattern of a poem (or other literature), often
done to be funny or to point out a problem
 Examples:
Weird Al’s songs
Scary Movie
Saturday Night Live
“I, too, sing America” by Langston Hughes
“I Hear America Singing” by
Walt Whitman
I HEAR America singing, the varied carols I hear;
Those of mechanics—each one singing his, as it should be, blithe and strong;
The carpenter singing his, as he measures his plank or beam,
The mason singing his, as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work;
The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat—the deckhand singing on the
steamboat deck;
The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench—the hatter singing as he stands;
The wood-cutter’s song—the ploughboy’s, on his way in the morning, or at the noon
intermission, or at sundown;
The delicious singing of the mother—or of the young wife at work—or of the girl
sewing or washing—Each singing what belongs to her, and to none else;
The day what belongs to the day—At night, the party of young fellows, robust,
Singing, with open mouths, their strong melodious songs.
“I, too, sing America” by Langston Hughes
I, too, sing America.
I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.
I'll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody'll dare
Say to me,
"Eat in the kitchen,"
They'll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed—
Structured vs. Free Verse
Structured Formwhen lines in a
stanza have a
regular, repeated
Free Verse- when a
poem has no pattern
Rhyme Scheme
pattern of rhymes (the repetition
of sounds at the ends of words) in a
 End
 Internal rhymes
 Near rhymes
End Rhymes
Rhymes at the end of lines of poetry
Darkness settles on roofs and walls,
But the sea, the sea in the darkness calls;
The little waves, with their soft, white hands,
Efface the footprints in the sands,
And the tide rises, the tide falls.
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, from
“TheTide Rises, the Tide Falls”
What else is here?
Rhymes at the end of lines of poetry
Darkness settles on roofs and walls,
But the sea, the sea in the darkness calls;
The little waves, with their soft, white hands,
Efface the footprints in the sands,
And the tide rises, the tide falls.
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, from
“TheTide Rises, the Tide Falls”
Internal Rhymes
Rhymes within lines of poetry
Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon there came again a tapping somewhat louder than before
- Edgar Allan Poe, from “The Raven”
Near Rhymes
Rhymes involving sounds that are similar but
not exactly the same
Also called slant rhymes
milly befriended a stranded star
whose rays five languid fingers were
- E.E. Cummings,
from “maggie and milly and molly and may”
(page 522)
Rhyme Scheme
Rhymes at the end of lines of poetry
 To indicate the rhyme scheme of a poem, use a
separate letter of the alphabet for each rhyme
 The rhyme scheme of Longfellow’s stanza of “The
Tide Rises, the Tide Falls” is a-a-b-b-a
Rhyme Scheme
Darkness settles on roofs and walls, a_
But the sea, the sea in the darkness calls; a_
The little waves, with their soft, white hands, b_
Efface the footprints in the sands, b_
And the tide rises, the tide falls. a_
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, from
“TheTide Rises, the Tide Falls”
The speaker is the voice that relates the story
or ideas of the poem
 Ask yourself:
Male or female? Age?
What is his or her attitude regarding the
events/ideas in the poem?
Where are they from? Do they speak in a certain
dialect (a form of language spoken in a certain
place by a certain group of people)?
Example: “Mother to Son” by Langston Hughes
“Mother to Son” by Langston Hughes
Mother to Son
Well, son, I'll tell you:
Life for me ain't been no crystal stair.
It's had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor—
But all the time
I'se been a-climbin' on,
And reachin' landin's,
And turnin' corners,
And sometimes goin' in the dark
Where there ain't been no light.
So, boy, don't you turn back.
Don't you set down on the steps.
'Cause you finds it's kinder hard.
Don't you fall now—
For I'se still goin', honey,
I'se still climbin',
And life for me ain't been no crystal stair.
Langston Hughes
Your old friend, the Simile!
comparison between two unlike
things, using a word such as like, as,
than, or resembles.
When the last bus leaves, moths stream
toward lights like litter in the wind.
- Roberta Hill, from “Depot in Rapid City”
You’ve been waiting for,
the mighty Metaphor!
An imaginative comparison between two unlike things in which one thing
is said to be another thing.
When she comes slip-footing through the door,
she kindles us
like lump coal lighted
and we wake up glowing.
She puts a spark even in Papa’s eyes
and turns out all our darkness.
When she comes sweet-talking in the room,
she warms us
like grits and gravy,
and we rise up shining.
Even at nighttime Mama is a sunrise
that promises tomorrow and tomorrow.
- Evelyn Tooley Hunt, from “Mama Is a Sunrise”
An imaginative comparison between two unlike things in which one thing is said
to be another thing.
Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.
Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.
- Langston Hughes
Image from
Madam and the Rent Man
The rent man knocked.
He said, Howdy-do?
I said, What
Can I do for you?
He said, You know
Your rent is due.
I said, Listen,
Before I'd pay
I'd go to Hades
And rot away!
The sink is broke,
The water don't run,
And you ain't done a thing
You promised to've done.
Back window's cracked,
Kitchen floor squeaks,
There's rats in the cellar,
And the attic leaks.
He said, Madam,
It's not up to me.
I'm just the agent,
Don't you see?
I said, Naturally,
You pass the buck.
If it's money you want
You're out of luck.
He said, Madam,
I ain't pleased!
I said, Neither am I.
So we agrees!
- Langston Hughes
A descriptive expression that means
something other than the combination
of the words that make it up
 Example: Don’t put all of your eggs in
one basket.
 Example: I’m really on the fence about
 Example: He’s on Cloud Nine!
A hyperbole is a wild exaggeration
“The Christmas Tree”
Momma bought a tree bigger than Jack’s giant.
The branches were so long
They gave each other huge bear hugs.
It took a million lights
To even make the tree seem half awake
And a thousand gifts to soothe
The giant’s appetite.
 The
repetition of the same or very
similar consonant sounds in words
that are close together.
Usually occurs at the beginning of words
Can also occur within or at the end of words
Can help establish a mood, emphasize words, or serve
as a memory aid
The repetition of the same or very similar
consonant sounds in words that are close together.
Example: s sound repeated at beginning of silken and
sad and within the words uncertain and rustling. . .
And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple
Thrilled me--filled me with fantastic terrors never felt
- Edgar Allan Poe, from “The Raven”
Assonance- The repetition of vowel
 “Hear the mellow wedding bells,
Golden bells!
What a world of happiness their
harmony foretells!”
Poetic Sleuth
this same example from “The
Raven”, what other poetic device(s) can
you find?
 Using
And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each
purple curtain,
Thrilled me--filled me with fantastic terrors never
felt before;
- Edgar Allan Poe, from “The Raven”
A pair of lines of verse
 Usually consists of two lines that rhyme and
have the same meter (rhythm of stressed and
unstressed syllables)
 While traditionally couplets rhyme, not all
Because the rhyme comes so quickly in rhyming
couplets, it tends to call attention to itself
 Good rhyming couplets tend to "snap" as both the
rhyme and the idea come to a quick close in two
 An example of a rhyming couplet:
Whether or not we find what we are seeking
is idle, biologically speaking.
— Edna St. Vincent Millay (at the end of a
“A Minor Bird”
I have wished a bird would fly away,
And not sing by my house all day;
Have clapped my hands at him from the door
When it seemed as if I could bear no more.
The fault must partly have been in me.
The bird was not to blame for his key.
And of course there must be something wrong
In wanting to silence any song.
` Robert Frost*
A single word or phrase that appeals to one or
more of our senses
The scientific names for the 5 senses:
1. Sight- (Visual)
2. Hearing- (Auditory)
3. Taste- (Gustatory)
4. Smell- (Olfactory)
5. Touch- (Tactile)
Imagery refers to the "pictures" which we perceive
with our mind's eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and skin
A single word or phrase that appeals to one or
more of our senses
Night Watch
(Ode to the Gargoyle)
Frozen jaws snap at timeless air
And concrete eyes stare at passers-by
Claws deeply imbedded, sadly not in flesh
As you crouch forever ready to pounce
- Mary O. Fumento, 1989
A single word or phrase that appeals to one or
more of our senses
 Read also “Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout Would Not
Take the Garbage Out” by Shel Silverstein (in
Literature book)
 “A Boy Named Sue”, sung by Johnny Cash, was
written by Shel Silverstein. What examples of
imagery can you find in this song?
a word sounds like what
it means
Important element in creating
the music of poetry
In “The Bells”, by Edgar Allan Poe, he creates a frenzied mood by
choosing words that imitate the sounds of alarm bells
Oh, the bells, bells, bells!
What a tale their terror tells
Of Despair!
How they clang, and clash, and roar!
What a horror they outpour
On the bosom of the palpitating air!
Yet the ear, it fully knows
By the twanging
And the clanging
How the danger ebbs and flows.
E. A. Poe
In “The Bells”, Poe uses onomatopoeia, it’s true, but he is also utilizing
the recurring use of a sound, word, a phrase, or a line. What is this
Oh, the bells, bells, bells!
What a tale their terror tells
Of Despair!
How they clang, and clash, and roar!
What a horror they outpour
On the bosom of the palpitating air!
Yet the ear, it fully knows
By the twanging
And the clanging
How the danger ebbs and flows.
The recurring use of a sound, a word, a phrase, or
a line
Can also be used to create music, to appeal to our
emotions, and to emphasize important ideas
Poe used this quite a bit
“Annabel Lee”
Note how the lines are numbered!
“I Went to a Party, Mom”- What’s the purpose of
the repetition in this poem?
“Annabel Lee” by Edgar Allen Poe
It was many and many a year ago,
In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
By the name of ANNABEL LEE;
And this maiden she lived with no other thought
Than to love and be loved by me.
I was a child and she was a child,
In this kingdom by the sea;
But we loved with a love that was more than loveI and my Annabel Lee;
With a love that the winged seraphs of heaven
Coveted her and me.
And this was the reason that, long ago,
In this kingdom by the sea,
A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling
My beautiful Annabel Lee;
So that her highborn kinsman came
And bore her away from me,
To shut her up in a sepulchre
In this kingdom by the sea.
The angels, not half so happy in heaven,
Went envying her and meYes!- that was the reason (as all men know,
In this kingdom by the sea)
That the wind came out of the cloud by night,
Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.
But our love it was stronger by far than the love
Of those who were older than weOf many far wiser than weAnd neither the angels in heaven above,
Nor the demons down under the sea,
Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee.
For the moon never beams without bringing me dreams
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And the stars never rise but I feel the bright eyes
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling- my darling- my life and my bride,
In the sepulchre there by the sea,
In her tomb by the sounding sea.
“I Went to a Party, Mom” by Anonymous
I went to a party, Mom
and remembered what you said.
You told me not to drink, Mom
so I drank soda instead.
I felt proud of myself, Mom
the way you said I would,
because I didn't drink and drive,
though some friends said I should.
I made a healthy choice, Mom
and your advice to me was right.
As the party finally ended,
and the kids drove out of sight,
I got into my car, Mom
sure to get home in one piece.
I never knew what was coming, Mom
something I expected least.
Now I'm lying on the pavement, Mom
And I hear the policeman say,
"The kid that caused this wreck was drunk",
Mom, his voice seems far away.
My own blood's all around me, Mom
as I try hard not to cry.
I can hear the paramedic say,
"This girl is going to die".
I'm sure the guy had no idea,
while he was flying high,
because he chose to drink and drive,
now I would have to die.
So why do people do it, Mom?
Tell daddy to be brave,
and when I go to Heaven,
write "Daddy's Girl" on my grave.
Someone should have taught him, Mom
that it's wrong to drink and drive.
Maybe if someone had,
I'd still be alive.
My breath is getting shorter, Mom
I'm getting really scared.
These are my final moments,
and I'm so unprepared.
I wish that you could hold me Mom,
as I lie here and die.
Just one last time, I’d tell you, Mom
I love you and good-bye.
When an image in a poem is used to
represent both itself and something
larger than itself
 “O Captain! My Captain!”
“O Captain! My Captain!” by Walt Whitman
O Captain! My Captain! our fearful trip is done;
The ship has weather'd every rack, the prize we sought is won;
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring:
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.
O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills;
For you bouquets and ribbon'd wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding;
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
O captain! dear father!
This arm beneath your head;
It is some dream that on the deck,
You've fallen cold and dead.
My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still;
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will;
The ship is anchor'd safe and sound, its voyage closed and done;
From fearful trip, the victor ship, comes in with object won;
Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!
But I, with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.
“Those Winter Sundays” by Robert Hayden
Sundays too my father got up early
And put his clothes on in the blueblack cold
Then with cracked hands that ached
From labor in the weekday weather made
Banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.
I’d wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.
When the rooms were warm, he’d call,
And slowly I would rise and dress,
Fearing the chronic angers of that house,
Speaking indifferently to him,
Who had driven out the cold
And plished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, what did I know
Of love’s austere and lonely offices?