Introduction to Poetry In a poem the words should be as pleasing to the ear as the meaning is to the mind. -- Marianne Moore What is poetry? Poetry is the sound of human speech at those times when it comes closest to the speech of angels and the speech of animals John Wain Poetry; the best words in the best order Samuel Taylor Coleridge The Human Brain Divided into 2
parts Each half has its own function Left Brain: Logic Reality Right Brain: Creativity Emotions To clarify . . . When you are looking
at big puffy Your right brain clouds . . tells you, Hey! . That one looks like a bunny. While your left brain tells you . . . Its a cloud, Stupid! So, which half do you use when studying poetry? Here are a few hints:
Poetry requires creativity Poetry requires emotion Poetry requires an artistic quality Poetry requires logic For the Left Brain: Recognizing certain devices used within a poem will give the left brain something to concentrate on. Well start with the sound devices:
Content and poetic voice In simple terms the content of a poem is what it is all aboutthe ideas, themes, and storyline it contains When considering the content of a poem it is also important to identify the poetic voice of the poem. In other words decide who the speaker of the poem is. In many cases the poetic voice may well be the poets, but it may be that the that the words of the poem are spoken through a character that the poet has created or a narrator figure other than the poet. Identifying the speaker also helps to determine a number of other aspects of the poem such as tone, mood, and the overall intention behind the poem. Tone and mood The effect a poem has on the reader is very closely determined by the tone and mood that it creates.
A poem contains a voice and like any voice it can project a certain tone that gives the listener certain messages. The tone might be angry or reflective; melancholy or joyful; bitter or ironic. The mood on the other hand, although very closely connected to the tone, is not quite the same thing. When we refer to the mood of a poem we are really talking about the atmosphere that the poem creates. The repetition of sounds Example: hat, cat, brat, fat, mat, sat My Beard by Shel Silverstein My beard grows to my toes,
I never wears no clothes, I wraps my hair Around my bare, And down the road I goes. Here is another example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oGrcdq2viZg The beat When reading a poem out loud, you may notice a sort of sing-song quality to it, just like in nursery rhymes. This is accomplished by the use of rhythm. Rhythm is broken into seven types. Iambic Monosyllabic Anapestic
Spondaic Trochaic Accentual Dactylic Most Used Less Common These identify patterns of
stressed and unstressed syllables in a line of poetry. That means one syllable is pronounced stronger, and one syllable is softer. iambic: anapestic: trochaic: dactylic: unstressed stressed The length of a line of poetry, based on what type of rhythm is used.
The length of a line of poetry is measured in metrical units called FEET. Each foot consists of one unit of rhythm. So, if the line is iambic or trochaic, a foot of poetry has 2 syllables. If the line is anapestic or dactylic, a foot of poetry has 3 syllables. (This is where its going to start sounding like geometry class, so you left-brainers are gonna love this!) Each set of syllables is one foot, and each line is measured by how many feet are in it. The length of the line of poetry is then labeled according to how many feet are in it. 1: Monometer 2: Dimeter
5: Pentameter 6: Hexameter 3: Trimeter 7: Heptameter 4: Tetrameter 8: Octameter *there is rarely more than 8 feet* She Walks in Beauty I.
She walks in beauty, like the night Of cloudless climes and starry skies; And all thats best of dark and bright Meet in her aspect and her eyes: Thus mellowed to that tender light Which Heaven to gaudy day denies. Reading this poem out loud makes the rhythm evident. Which syllables are more pronounced? Which are naturally softer?
II. One shade the more, one ray the less, Count the syllables in Had half impaired the nameless grace each line to Which waves in every raven tress, determine the meter. Or softly lightens oer her face; Where thoughts serenely sweet express, How pure, how dear their dwelling-place. III. And on that cheek, and oer that brow, Examination of this poem So soft, so calm, yet eloquent, reveals that it would be
The smiles that win, the tints that glow, considered iambic tetrameter. But tell of days in goodness spent, A mind at peace with all below, A heart whose love is innocent! The repetition of the initial letter or sound in two or more words in a To the lay-person, these line.are called tongue-twisters. Example: How much dew would a dewdrop drop if a dewdrop did drop dew? Alliteration
Alliteration She Walks in Beauty I. She walks in beauty, like the night Of cloudless climes and starry skies; And all thats best of dark and bright Meet in her aspect and her eyes: Thus mellowed to that tender light Which Heaven to gaudy day denies. These examples use the beginning sounds of words only twice in a line, but by definition, thats all you need. Alliteration
Lets see what this looks like in a poem we are familiar with. Words that spell out sounds; words that sound like what they mean. Examples: growl, hiss, pop, boom, crack, ptthhhbbb. Lets see what this looks like in
a poem we are not so familiar with Onomatopoeia yet. Noise Day by Shel Silverstein Lets have one day for girls and boyses When you can make the grandest noises. Screech, scream, holler, and yell Buzz a buzzer, clang a bell, Sneeze hiccup whistle shout, Laugh until your lungs wear out,
Several other words not highlighted could also be considered as onomatopoeia. Can you find any? Toot a whistle, kick a can, Bang a spoon against a pan, Sing, yodel, bellow, hum, Blow a horn, beat a drum, Rattle a window, slam a door, Scrape a rake across the floor . . .. Using the same key word
or phrase throughout a poem. This should be fairly self-explanatory, but . . . at risk of sounding like a broken record . . . Valued Treasue by Chris R. Carey Time to spend; Time will eventually
time to mend. show us the truth. Time to hate; Time is a mystery; time to wait. time is a measure. Time is the essence; Time for us is
time is the key. valued treasure. Time will tell us Time to spend; what we will be. time to mend. Time is the enemy; Time to cry . . .
time is the proof. Time to die. Valued Treasue by Chris R. Carey Time to spend; Time will eventually time to mend. show us the truth. Time to hate;
Time is a mystery; time to wait. time is a measure. Time is the essence; Time for us is time is the key. valued treasure. Time will tell us
Time to spend; what we will be. time to mend. Time is the enemy; Time to cry . . . time is the proof. Time to die. The repetition of one or more phrases or lines at the end of a
stanza. It can also be an entire stanza that is repeated periodically throughout a poem, kind of like a chorus of a song. Phenomenal Woman by Maya Angelou Pretty women wonder where my secret lies. Im not cute or built to suit a fashion models size But when I start to tell them, They think Im telling lies. I say,
Its in the reach of my arms, The span of my hips, The stride of my step, The curl of my lips. Im a woman Remember this Phenomenally. Phenomenal woman, I walk into a room Just as cool as you please, What they see in me.
And to a man, The fellows stand or Fall down on their knees. Then they swarm around me, A hive of honey bees. Its the fire in my eyes, And the flash of my teeth, The swing of my waist, And the joy in my feet. But they cant touch My inner mystery. When I try to show them, I say, Its in the arch of my back, The sun of my smile,
... The grace of my style. Im a woman Look familiar? Phenomenal woman, Thats me. They try so much They say they still cant see. I say,
Phenomenally. Men themselves have wondered Im a woman That is refrain. Phenomenally. Phenomenal woman, A comparison between two usually unrelated things using the word like or as. Examples:
Joe is as hungry as a bear. In the morning, Rae is like an angry lion. Simile Ars Poetica By Archibald MacLeish Simile A poem should be palpable and mute as a globed fruit, Silent as the sleeve-worn stone Of casement ledges where the moss has grown
A poem should be wordless As the flight of birds. Simile Lets see what this looks like in a poem we have never seen before in our lives An implied comparison between two usually unrelated things. Examples: Lenny is a snake.
Ginny is a mouse when it comes to standing up for herself. The difference between a simile and a metaphor is that a simile requires either like or as to be included in the comparison, and a metaphor requires that neither be used. When it comes to using a metaphor device in poetry, a poet can either make the entire poem a metaphor for something, or put little metaphors throughout the poem. The following poem is one big metaphor.
An exaggeration for the sake of emphasis. Examples: I may sweat to death. The blood bank needs a river of blood. Giving human characteristics to inanimate objects, ideas, or animals. Example: The sun stretched its lazy fingers over the valley. A word or image that signifies something other than what is
literally represented. Examples: Dark or black images in poems are often used to symbolize death. Light or white images are often used to symbolize life. Using words to create a picture in the readers mind. A reference to another piece of literature or to history. Example: She hath Dians wit (from Romeo and Juliet). This is an allusion to Roman mythology and the goddess Diana. The three most common types of allusion refer to mythology, the Bible, and Shakespeares writings.
Form Form can refer to the way that the poem is actually written down on the page or to the way that the lines are organised, grouped or structured. In terms of structure, poetry can be divided into two categories; stichic and stanza Stichic Stichic verse is a continuous run of lines of the same length and the same metre. Most narrative verse is written in such continuous lines. Stichic Poetry
As wreath of snow, on mountain-breast Slides from the rock that gave it rest, Poor Ellen glided from her stay, And at the Monarchs feet she lay: No word her choking voice commands; She showd the ring, she claspd her hands. O! not a moment could he brook, The generous prince, that suppliant look! Gently he raised her; and, the while, Checkd with a glance the circles smile; Graceful but grave, her brow he kissd, And bade her terrors be dismissd: Yes, fair, the wandering poor Fitz-James The fealty of Scotland claims.
T o him thy woes, thy wishes bring; He will redeem his signet ring. (From: Scott, The Lady of the Lake, Canto VI) Stanzas Secondly, there is a kind of poetry where the lines are arranged into groups which are sometimes called verses but are more correctly referred to as stanzas. Stanza Example Here is an example of a stanza in poetry. This original poem is purely for illustration. I Love To Write Poems (First Stanza) I love to writeDay and night
What would my heart do But cry, sigh and be blue If I could not write (Second Stanza) Writing feels good And I know it should Who could have knew That what I do Is write, write, write - Unknown Author Poetry that follows no rules. Just about anything goes. This does not mean that it uses no devices, it just means that this type of poetry does not follow traditional conventions such as
punctuation, capitalization, rhyme scheme, rhythm and meter, etc Fog The fog comes on little cat feet. It sits looking over harbor and city on silent haunches and then, moves on. No Rhyme No Rhythm No Meter This is free verse.
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