Elements of Poetry

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Elements of Poetry. From: Elements of Literature. How to read a poem. Read the poem aloud at least once. Read from the “inside out.” Be aware of punctuation, especially periods and commas. If a line of poetry doesn’t end with punctuation, don’t stop.
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Elements of PoetryFrom: Elements of LiteratureHow to read a poem
  • Read the poem aloud at least once.
  • Read from the “inside out.”
  • Be aware of punctuation, especially periods and commas.
  • If a line of poetry doesn’t end with punctuation, don’t stop.
  • Read the poem for its meaning, using a natural voice. Let the music come through on its own.
  • Pay attention to each word.
  • Pay attention to the title.
  • Read it out loud!
  • Read the poem aloud at least once. Don’t stop just because you’re at the end of the line.
  • Only stop for punctuation marks.
  • Each poem has its own pulse, which you can hear more clearly by reading it aloud.
  • Inside out
  • Read from the “inside out.” If you read a poem and try to worry about finding the metaphor or identify rhyme schemes, you’ve missed the point of the poem. You’ve read it from the “outside in.” Don’t do that!
  • First, enjoy the poem.
  • Then, ask yourself why you liked it. (metaphors, rhyme, etc. can be found after the first reading.)
  • Punctuation matters
  • Be aware of punctuation, especially periods and commas.
  • A period signals the end of a sentence-which is not always at the end of a line.
  • You should make a full stop when you come to a period.
  • If a line of poetry doesn’t end with punctuation, don’t stop. Continue reading until you read a punctuation mark.
  • Poetry is music
  • If the poem is written in meter (pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables-most poems use meter), don’t read it in a singsong way. Read the poem for its meaning, using a natural voice. Let the music of the poem come through on its own.
  • Words are important
  • Pay attention to each word. Poets generally use only a few words, so each word is important. Look up unfamiliar words.
  • Pay attention to the title. Sometimes-but not always-the meaning of the poem is hinted at in the title.
  • Try it!
  • Read this excerpt from a poem out loud, remember to read it first. Stop at the punctuation-not the end of the line. Listen for the natural singsong tone-don’t force it. 
  • “Still I Rise” by Maya AngelouYou may write me down in historyWith your bitter, twisted lies,You may trod me in the very dirtBut still, like dust, I'll rise.Just like moons and like suns,With the certainty of tides,Just like hopes springing high,Still I'll rise.You may shoot me with your words,You may cut me with your eyes,You may kill me with your hatefulness,But still, like air, I'll rise.The Sound of Poetry
  • The musical sound of poetry comes from several elements used wisely in the poem. Not all are used in every poem. The poet chooses the elements that best deliver the poem and sound the poet wants to create. Here are a few of the elements commonly used in poetry:
  • Rhythm
  • Meter
  • Rhyme
  • Alliteration
  • Assonance
  • Onomatopoeia
  • Metaphors and Similes
  • Free verse
  • Rhythm
  • The repetition of stressed and unstressed syllable
  • Provides the poem’s beat
  • MU-sic
  • MOUNT-ain
  • Be-CAUSE
  • Try your name: Where is the stressed sound? That is the stressed syllable.
  • Okey In my name, the “O” syllable is stressed. The “key” is unstressed.
  • “For My Grandmother” by Countee CullenThis lovely flower fell to seed; Work gently, sun and rain;She held it as her dying creed That she would grow again. This lovely flower fell to seed; stressed unstressedMeter
  • When a clear pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables is repeated, that is called meter.
  • Cullen’s poem “For My Grandmother” uses meter because the stressed and unstressed syllable pattern is repeated throughout the entire poem.
  • Listen to the consistent pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables in the poem one more time.
  • “For My Grandmother” by Countee CullenThis lovely flower fell to seed; Work gently, sun and rain;She held it as her dying creed That she would grow again. This lovely flower fell to seed; stressed unstressedRhyme
  • The chiming effect a poem creates-the singsong sound, the music- is created by rhyme.
  • Rhyme is when sounds match in words.
  • There are several types of rhyme.
  • Types of Rhyme
  • End rhyme
  • Couplet
  • Internal rhyme
  • Exact rhyme
  • Approximate rhyme (near rhyme, imperfect rhyme, slant rhyme)
  • End rhyme
  • End rhyme is when the end words of lines rhyme with each other.
  • Excerpt from “Peanut-Butter Sandwich”From Where The Sidewalk Ends by Shel SilversteinI'll sing you a poem of a silly young kingWho played with the world at the end of a string,But he only loved one single thing—And that was just a peanut-butter sandwich.His scepter and his royal gowns,His regal throne and golden crownsWere brown and sticky from the moundsAnd drippings from each peanut-butter sandwich.His subjects all were silly foolsFor he had passed a royal ruleThat all that they could learn in schoolWas how to make a peanut-butter sandwich.…More end rhymes: The panther is like a leopard,Except is hasn’t been peppered.-Ogden NashFrom “The Panther”“The Cat in the Hat” by Dr. SeussCouplet
  • A couplet is when two consecutive lines rhyme with each other at the end.
  • Shakespearean sonnets perfect the use of couplets! Each sonnets closes with a couplet.
  • Shakespearean sonnets:
  • SONNET 54
  • O, how much more doth beauty beauteous seem By that sweet ornament which truth doth give.The rose looks fair, but fairer we it deem For that sweet odour which doth in it live. The canker-blooms have full as deep a dye As the perfumed tincture of the roses, Hang on such thorns and play as wantonly When summer's breath their masked buds discloses:But, for their virtue only is their show, They live unwoo'd and unrespected fade, Die to themselves. Sweet roses do not so; Of their sweet deaths are sweetest odours made:   And so of you, beauteous and lovely youth,   When that shall fade, my verse distills your truth.Shakespeare Sonnet #130My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun; Coral is far more red than her lips' red; If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun; If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head. I have seen roses damask'd, red and white, But no such roses see I in her cheeks; And in some perfumes is there more delight Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.I love to hear her speak, yet well I knowThat music hath a far more pleasing sound; I grant I never saw a goddess go; My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground. And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare As any she belied with false compare.Internal rhymeRhymes occurring within lines.“So I want you to swear that, foul or fair, you’ll cremate my last remains”I do not know how long in the snow I wrestled with grisly fear; But the stars came out and they danced about ere again I ventured near; I was sick with dread, but I bravely said: “I’ll just take a peep inside. I guess he’s cooked, and it’s time I look”: . . .then the door I opened wide. And there sat Sam, looking cool and calm, in the heart of the furnace roar; And he wore a smile you could see a mile, and he said: “Please close that door. It’s fine in here, but I greatly fear you’ll let in the cold and storm- Since I Left Plumtree, down in Tennessee, it’s the first time I’ve been warm.” “The Cremation of Sam McGee” by Robert W. ServiceNow Sam McGee was from Tennessee, where theCotton blooms and blows.Why he left his home in the South to Roam ‘round the Pole, God only knows. He was always cold, but the land of gold seemed to hold him like a spell; Though he’d often say in his homely way that he’d ‘sooner live in hell.”On a Christmas Day we were mushing our way over the Dawson trail. Talk of your cold! Through the parka’s fold it stabbed like a driven nail. If our eyes we’d close, the lashes froze till sometimes we couldn’t see; It wasn’t much fun, but the only one to whimper was Sam McGee. …Exact rhyme
  • The vowel and end sound in a word are exactly the same as in its rhyming word (although they don’t have to be spelled exactly the same… just sound the same.)
  • Toad-Road
  • Jog-hog
  • Tapping-rapping
  • State-fate
  • Confess-less
  • Home-roam
  • Ode to a Toad by Anne-Marie Wulfsberg, Concord-Carlisle High School, Concord, MassachusettsI was out one day for my usual jog(I go kinda easy, rarely full-hog)When I happened to see right there on the roadThe squishy remains of a little green toad. I thought to myself, where is his home? Down yonder green valley, how far did he roam? From out on the pond I heard sorrowful croaks, Could that be the wailing of some his folks? I felt for the toad and his pitiful state, But the day was now fading, and such was his fate. In the grade scheme of things, now I confess, What’s one little froggie more or less? Approximate rhyme (near rhyme, imperfect rhyme, slant rhyme)
  • Modern poets often prefer approximate rhyme.
  • These words have similar vowel or end sounds but are not exactly the same.
  • Fellow-hollow
  • Cat-catch
  • Bat-bit
  • Introduction to Poetry by Billy CollinsI ask them to take a poem and hold it up to the lightlike a color slideor press an ear against its hive. I say drop a mouseinto a poem and watch it probehis way out, Or walkinside the poem’s room and feel the wallsfor a light switch.I want them to water-skiAcross the surface of a poem waving at the author’s name on the shore. But all they want to do is tie the poem to a chair with a ropeand torture a confession of out it. They begin beating it with a hose to find out what it reallymeans. Alliteration
  • The repetition of the same CONSONANT sound in words that are close together.
  • The see-saw sunk softly into the sand.
  • The silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain…
  • The purple people-eater
  • Alliteration, cont’d
  • Little Tommy Tucker sings for his supper,What shall we give him? Brown bread and butter.How shall he cut it without a knife?How shall he marry without a wife?
  • Excerpts from “Paul Revere’s Ride” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow…Just as the moon rose over the bay, Where swinging wide at her moorings layThe Somerset, British man-of-war; A phantom ship, with each mast and sparAcross the moon like a prison bar, And a huge black hulk that was magnified by its own reflection in the tide. Assonance
  • Repetition of VOWEL sounds in words that are close together.
  • Annie ate an apple.
  • The creature bleated when the floor creaked.
  • “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night” by Dylan Thomas
  • http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/15377
  • “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 theyDo not go gentle into that good night.Good men, the last wave by, crying how brightTheir 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 sightBlind 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.
  • “How Does It Feel?” AvrilLavigneI'm not afraid of anythingI just need to know that i can breatheI don't need much of anythingBut suddenly, suddenlyI am small and the world is bigAll around me is fast movingSurrounded by so many thingsBut suddenly, suddenlyHow does it feel, to be different from me?Are we the same?How does it feel, to be different from me?Are we the same?How does it feel?I'm young, and I am freeBut I get tired, and I get weakI get lost, and I can't sleepBut suddenly, suddenlyWould you comfort meWould you cry with me;Ahh, ahh,…I am small and the world is bigBut I'm not afraid of anything;How does it feel Different from me, different...(ahh, ahh, ahh-ah)Onomatopoeia
  • Words that sound like what the word refers to…
  • Drip, drip, drip
  • Crackle
  • Sizzle
  • Pop
  • Rustle
  • Snap
  • Etc.
  • Onomatopoeias are words that sound like sounds.
  • Free Verse
  • For free verse, don’t abandon ALL rules- just most of them! 
  • Doesn’t have to rhyme.
  • Doesn’t have to use meter.
  • Sounds more like normal speech.
  • BUT! Free verse poets still try really hard to make their poems sound rhythmic. One way they do this is through repeating sentence patterns.
  • “Give Me the Splendid Silent Sun” Walt WhitmanGive me the splendid silent sun with all his beams full-dazzling,Give me juicy autumnal fruit ripe and red from the orchard, Give me a field where the unmowed grass grows, Give me an arbor, give me the trellised grape…“Valentine for Ernest Mann”by Naomi ShihabNyeYou can't order a poem like you order a taco.Walk up to the counter, say, "I'll take two"and expect it to be handed back to youon a shiny plate.Still, I like your spirit.Anyone who says, "Here's my address,write me a poem," deserves something in reply.So I'll tell you a secret instead:poems hide. In the bottoms of our shoes,they are sleeping. They are the shadowsdrifting across our ceilings the momentbefore we wake up. What we have to dois live in a way that lets us find them.Once I knew a man who gave his wifetwo skunks for a valentine.He couldn't understand why she was crying."I thought they had such beautiful eyes."And he was serious. He was a serious manwho lived in a serious way. Nothing was uglyjust because the world said so. He reallyliked those skunks. So, he re-invented themas valentines and they became beautiful.At least, to him. And the poems that had been hidingin the eyes of skunks for centuriescrawled out and curled up at his feet.Maybe if we re-invent whatever our lives give uswe find poems. Check your garage, the odd sockin your drawer, the person you almost like, but not quite.And let me know.“I, Too, Sing America” by Langston HughesI, 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. Tomorrow, I'll be at the table When company comes. Nobody'lldare Say to me,"Eat in the kitchen," Then. Besides,They'll see how beautiful I am And be ashamed—I, too, am America.Metaphors and Similes
  • Compare two unlike things to each other.
  • Similes use “like” or “as” to signify comparison
  • Metaphors just say it is the other thing.
  • Simile: Uses “like” or “as” to make comparison.
  • The river is like a snake winding through the grass.
  • Metaphors: It is what it is. Uses “is”, “was”, “am” to compare.
  • The river is a snake winding through the grass.
  • Listen to “Daisy” by Brand New.
  • Write down one of the metaphors you hear.
  • Extended metaphor
  • Metaphor developed and used over multiple lines or an entire poem.
  • For example: when you compare yourself to a ship on the sea and refer back yo that comparison and image over and over again in your poem, that is an extended metaphor.
  • “Play Crack the Sky” Brand NewWe sent out the SOS call. It was a quarter past four in the morning when the storm broke our second anchor line.Four months at sea, four months of calm seas, to be pounded in the shallows off the tip of Montauk Point.They call them rogues, they travel fast and alone. One-hundred-foot faces of God's good ocean gone wrong.What they call love is a risk cause you will always get hit out of nowhere by some wave and end up on your own.Sweep your boat out to sea or dashed to bits on the reef.The vessel groans the ocean pressures its frame.To the port I see the lighthouse through the sleet and rain.And I wish for one more day to give my love and repay debts.But the morning finds our bodies washed up thirty miles west.They say that the captain stays fast with the ship through still and storm.But this ain't the Dakota, and the water is cold.We won't have to fight for long.This is the end. This story's old but it goes on and on until we disappear.Calm me and let me taste the salt you breathed while you were underneath.I am the one who haunts your dreams of mountains sunk below the sea.I spoke the words but never gave a thought to what they all could mean.I know that this is what you want.A funeral keeps both of us apart.You know that you are not alone.Need you like water in my lungs.This is the end.The hole in the hull defied the crews attempts to bail us out.And flooded the engines and radio and half buried bow.Your tongue is a rudder. It steers the whole ship.Sends your words past your lips or keeps them safe behind your teeth.But the wrong words will strand you.Come off course while you sleep.Extended metaphor
  • Write down what you think the extended metaphor in the song meant. Explain what two things were compared to each other and how they are similar-based on what the song said about them. Use at least 5 sentences.
  • There are dozens of types of poetry
  • Elegies
  • Ballads
  • Lyric
  • Narrative
  • Limerick
  • Odes
  • Free verse
  • And more…Lyric poem: Usually very short and express feelings or thoughts rather than tell stories. O God of dust and rainbows help us seeThat without dust the rainbow would not be.~Langston HughesOdes: long lyric poem usually praising some subject, and written in dignified language.
  • “Ode to a Frog”
  • “Ode to Thanks” Pablo Neruda
  • “Ode to Thanks”Thanks to the wordthat says thanks!Thanks to thanks,wordthat meltsiron and snow! The world is a threatening placeuntilthanksmakes the roundsfrom one pair of lips to another,soft as a brightfeatherand sweet as a petal of sugar,filling the mouth with its soundor else a mumbledwhisper.Life becomes human again:it’s no longer an open window.A bit of brightnessstrikes into the forest,and we can sing again beneath the leaves.Thanks, you’re the medicine we taketo save us fromthe bite of scorn.Your light brightens the altar of harshness. Or maybea tapestryknownto far distant peoples.Travelersfan outinto the wilds,and in the jungleof strangers,mercirings outwhile the hustling trainchanges countries,sweeping away borders,then spasiboclinging to pointyvolcanoes, to fire and freezing cold,or danke, yes! and gracias, andthe world turns into a table:a single word has wiped it clean,plates and glasses gleam,silverware tinkles,and the tablecloth is as broad as a plain. Thank you, thanks,for going out and returning,for rising upand settling down.We know, thanks,that you don’t fill every space-you’re only a word-butwhere your little petalappearsthe daggers of pride take cover,and there’s a penny’s worth of smilesNarrative: tells a story through a series of related events
  • “Paul Revere’s Ride” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  • Sonnets: Fourteen-line poem that follows strict rules of rhyme, meter, and structureShakespearean
  • Shakespearean Sonnets
  • Ballads: a song told in simple meter and with simple rhyme
  • “The Cremation of Sam McGee”
  • “The Dying Cowboy”
  • Epics: Long narrative poem about the many deeds of a great hero.
  • “Beowolf”
  • Homer’s “Iliad” and “Odyssey”
  • “Casey at the Bat” (mock epic-imitates an epic style in a comical way in order to make fun of its topic)
  • Beowolf“Hail, Hrothgar!Higlac is my cousin and my king; the daysOf my youth have been filled with glory. Now Grendel’s Name has echoed in our land: SailorsHave brought us stories of Herot, the bestOf all mead-halls, deserted and useless when the moonHangs in skies the sun had lit, Light and life fleeing together. My people hav
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