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Mrs. Smith’s Journey through Verse. How Poetry Becomes Art.

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1 Mrs. Smith’s Journey through Verse

2 How Poetry Becomes Art

3  Poetry, essentially, is not prose. In prose, information is given with little thought to form. In poetry, however, the visual aspect, the sound, and the words are all equally of importance.  The word poet comes from the Greek work poiētēs, meaning “one who makes or fashions”. So, keeping this in mind, think of poetry as fashioning language into art. It’s an experience of all of the senses.

4 FORMSOUND  “Form” refers to the physical arrangement of the poem on the page. There are many different types of form, some to be discussed later, and generally form and content go hand in hand. Sometimes poems are arranged into little poetry paragraphs called stanzas. A break in stanzas always has a purpose, be it to change to a different train of thought or to physically separate two ideas from each other. EVERYTHING in poetry is there for a reason.  Sound devices are all of those poetic terms you have learned throughout school, including alliteration, assonance, consonance, and rhyme. These devices, which we will explore more in-depth later, are what makes poetry beautiful to listen to. Remember, as a work of art, poetry is meant to be read aloud just as much as it is to be looked at!

5  Not only is poetry sometimes visually appealing in form, but it appeals to the sense of sight by using figurative language to paint pictures in our minds as we read. These literary devices, to be discussed in more detail later, include such language as imagery, personification, similes, and metaphors. Poets use these so the reader can hopefully get the idea exactly of what the poet is speaking.

6  First off, notice how we write titles of poems – using quotation marks!  Look at line 4 – that’s consonance (in “tingling strings”)! Now, what is consonance?  Point out some instances of imagery in this poem. Remember, imagery is anything that appeals to the senses and brings the words alive.  What sort of mental images does this poem bring to your mind? Why do we create different images?

7 What are some of the images you get here? Write down a few on a spare piece of paper and connect them with a memory or image from your life. Do you see any other figurative language at work here?

8 It’s like a ruler for words!

9  Poems are measured in meters and poetic feet.  Meter is the repetitive use of a rhythm in a poem. Meter is measured by how many feet are in each line.  A poetic foot is a combination of two or three syllables. Feet are combined in a line to create meter. The type of foot in a line is called the scansion.

10  Meter is fairly simple to figure out. It is the amount of feet in a line. So, if most feet are two syllables, what do you think you do to find meter? That’s right, count the syllables and divide by two!  For example, if there are six syllables in each line, what is the meter? Trimeter!  Meter is named for how many feet there are: dimeter has two feet, trimeter has three, tetrameter has four, pentameter has five, and so on.

11  An iamb, the most commonly used foot, is a combination of one unstressed and one stressed, such as in the word “require”.  A trochee is a combination of one stressed and one unstressed, such as in the word “poet”.  A dactyl is a combination of one stressed and two unstressed, such as in the word “heavenly”.  A anapest is a combination of two unstressed and one stressed, such as in the phrase “to the wall”.  A spondee is a combination of two stressed syllables, as in the word “home-made”. Spondees are generally used in repetition.

12  Write your name on a sheet of paper. You can write your entire name if you choose, but just your first name will suffice.  Figure out how many syllables are in your name. This will have an impact on what your scansion is.  Which syllables are stressed and which are unstressed? Sometimes it’s easier to be emphatic and sound silly when you say it to figure out where the stresses are.  Look back to your notes from the previous slide. What scansion is your name? What scansion is your neighbor’s name?

13  Remember when I mentioned form? Well, sonnets are one of those forms.  There are two kinds of sonnets: English or Shakespearean and Plutarchan.  There are two things all sonnets have no matter what: 14 lines and a specific rhyme scheme.  You can generally spot a sonnet by its shape, a rectangle. If you see a poem in the shape of a rectangle, count the lines, it’s most likely a sonnet!  Sonnets are generally about love, so when you see a sonnet, you know it will be some sort of mushy poem. This is what we call “form matching content”. If ever someone wrote a sonnet about severe hatred of someone else, what do you think that would mean?

14  Shakespearean sonnets are written in three quatrains, or groups of four lines, and one couplet, a group of two lines.  Shakespearean sonnets have a specific rhyme scheme: abab cdcd efef gg. All Shakespearean sonnets will have this rhyme scheme.  Shakespearean sonnets are written in Shakespeare’s meter of choice: iambic pentameter, which means how many feet are in each line??

15  Does the form match the content?  Break the poem up by quatrains and the couplet to see the progression of the reader’s thoughts.  What sort of literary devices does Shakespeare use to describe his feelings? What is the extended metaphor?

16  Is this a Shakespearean sonnet? How do you know? Does it adhere to the form as closely as Shakespeare?  What is the meter and scansion of the poem?  Does the form match the content?  Point out some figurative language. How does she use it in comparison or contrast to Shakespeare?

17  Now that you know how sonnets work, try writing one on your own. Remember, sonnets have 14 lines and specific rhyme scheme! They are generally about love for a person, but for our purposes you may write about anyone or anything you love. Share your poem with a friend when you are finished!

18 How to use poetry when you don’t want it to be like poetry

19  Free Verse is a form of poetry that is quite common in modern poetry because it is the quintessential opposite of form, it has no form. Free verse does not rhyme, generally does not have stanzas, and quite often does not fit anyone’s idea of what a poem should look like. Words can be scattered around the page and still be a poem! What sort of point could someone be trying to get across by using free verse?

20  Why would Hughes use free verse for this poem? How does form match content?  How does Hughes use punctuation? Remember, words are not the only thing in poems, poets use all facets of language to illustrate their purpose!  What images does Hughes use? How are these images reflective of his purpose?

21  How does Levertov’s form match her purpose?  What major literary device does she use throughout her poem?  Why does she choose grain?

22  Ravikovitch uses blank verse, poetry that does not rhyme, rather than free verse. Why would she choose blank verse over free verse?  How does she make use of extended metaphor? At what point is the metaphor explained? Why do you think she would do this?  Why is this poem called “Pride”? (Can rocks have pride? What literary device is this?) How do you relate this poem to the human condition?

23  What does it mean if you have a “ghost of a chance”? How does that relate to the purpose of the poem?  Why a fish? What does the image of a fish have to do with the purpose of the poem?  Water imagery is oftentimes used as a symbol for life. How does that ring true (or not, for that matter) in this poem?  How does Rich use free verse? Is her purpose similar to others we have read? Does form match content?

24  E.E. Cummings is the quintessential free verse poet. Anytime one is speaking of free verse, E.E. Cummings comes into play.  Not only does Cummings use words, but he makes visual images with punctuation. What are some examples from this poem and what purpose do you think they have?  Is there purpose to where Cummings breaks his lines and stanzas?  What images does Cummings portray? How does the lack of form effect these images?  Does form match content?

25 That’s not all, folks!

26  A villanelle is a poem form with a rigid rhyme scheme and repetition pattern.  Villanelles often have a pastoral, or rustic, feel to them. Whatever the content is, it is described in a pastoral manner.  Villanelles consist of five tercets (three line stanzas) and one quatrain. The first and third line of the opening tercet alternate as the last lines of the following tercets and then appear again together as the last two lines of the quatrain. Because of the repetition of these lines, they are called the refrain.  In the following, the capital letters are the lines of the refrain while the lowercase serve as the rhyme scheme:  A1 b A2 / a b A1 / a b A2 / a b A1 / a b A2 / a b A1 A2

27 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 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. “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night” by Dylan Thomas

28  Remember I said before that villanelles used pastoral images. Does the form of “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night” match the content? Why would Dylan choose to use such common images?  Why are those particular two lines the refrain? What significance do they hold to the poem?  What other uses of figurative language can you find? Do they hold any purpose?

29 I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead, I lift my lids and all is born again. (I think I made you up inside my head) The stars go waltzing out in blue and red, And arbitrary darkness gallops in. I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead. I dreamed that you bewitched me into bed And sung me moon-struck, kissed me quite insane. (I think I made you up inside my head). God topples from the sky, hell’s fires fade: Exit seraphim and enter Satan’s men: I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead. I fancied you’d return the way you said. But I grow old and I forget your name. (I think I made you up inside my head). I should have loved a thunderbird instead; At least when spring comes they roar back again. I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead. (I think I made you up inside my head). “Mad Girl’s Love Song” by Sylvia Plath

30  Does this poem have pastoral images? Why would Plath choose this path?  Describe some of the images Plath uses. How do they relate to a love song? How do they relate to someone who is mad (as in crazy)?  What do you think of the refrain? How is it the theme of sorts for the poem?

31  Odes, unlike the other types of poems we have discussed, do not have a particular form. And ode is an ode because it is a tribute of sorts. Odes can be written for particular occasions or on a particular subject. Odes denote some sort of adoration by the poet for its subject. This type of poem was used very seriously in the past, but has become to be about more light-hearted subjects and meant fairly sarcastically. Even though there is no set form, one thing every ode has is a rhyme scheme!

32 O wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn’s being, Thou from whose unseen presence the leaves dead Are driven like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing, Yellow, and black, and pale, and hectic red, Pestilence-striken multitudes! O thou Who chariotest to their dark wintry bed 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 Her clarion o'er the dreaming earth, and fill (Driving sweet buds like flocks to feed in air) With living hues and odors plain and hill: Wild Spirit which art moving everywhere; Destroyer and preserver; hear, oh hear! From “Ode to the West Wind” by Percy Bysshe Shelley Of what is Shelley in adoration? Why? Does this fit the purpose of an ode?

33 Humble southern vegetable, your stem stubbed, your tail curved and oh-so-thin, your skin fuzzy like the Peach, your garden neighbor; your seeds slick my knife with their sludge. Fried up golden brown and crisp, or thrown in a pot of gumbo. Okra! How I love thee! When I was a child, only you, of all the vegetables, ever merited seconds (and, when Mom made enough, thirds.) At Grandma's, you arrived in a paper bag, top crumpled to hide its precious cargo, fresh and dirty still from being pick'd. Though you are a stranger still to some, I greedily steal you from grocery shelves, piling you in bag after bag to take home and fry up. I can never get enough. “Ode to a Vegetable” by anonymous

34  Now that you have seen a serious ode and a silly one, it’s time for you to write an ode of your own! Remember, it needs to rhyme (even though “Ode to a Vegetable” did not) and be about something for which you have a certain level of adoration. The sky is the limit!  Share your odes with your neighbors!

35 A Day of Poetry Appreciation and Writing

36  How much time do you think has passed in this poem?  What sort of literary devices does Dove use to help create the scene?  How do our senses help us remember specific times in our lives?  Why is poetry the perfect medium to recreate those senses?

37  Think of three events in your life (before the age of 10) that are of some importance. Your memory should not be comprised of anymore than one minute of time.  Write a description of no more than five words of the event (such as “my brother’s birth).  Choose two of the events to continue the activity.  Make a comparison chart (side by side) for the two events. For each event, describe the memories your senses have. Tell everything and be descriptive!

38 When I cut class in 4 th gradeMy first day of band camp  Smell: the girl’s bathroom at school (the normal smells of icky)  Taste: sweat from my face, school lunch  Touch: my heart pounding in my chest, the walls of the stall  See: the institutional yellow of the walls, the brown tile of the floor  Hear: the door slam as people enter the restroom  Smell: freshly cut grass, metallic of my instrument  Taste: metallic of my instrument, Gatorade and water  Touch: my instrument, the grass, dirt, sweat  See: drill charts, t-shirts and shorts, hats and sunglasses, rows of people at attention  Hear: commands of the drum major, Wild, Wild West, the grass crunching underneath my feet

39  Choose one of your two remaining memories and write a poem about it.  Use as many adjectives as you possibly can to create the imagery of the moment.  Your poem can be blank verse, free verse, or fit a form, but remember to have your form match your content!  Use at 5 of the following literary devices: alliteration, consonance, assonance, personification, simile, metaphor, extended metaphor, metonymy, synecdoche, refrain, symbol. If you aren’t sure what one means, look it up!  Feel free to illustrate your final poem with drawn scenes from your memory!  Look at page 277 in your lit text for a list of things to keep in mind while writing your poetry.

40 I can’t figure out how to describe it, so I’ll just use someone else’s ideas…

41  An allusion is a reference to an existing body of work, most commonly either the Bible or Greek or Roman mythology.  Poets oftentimes use allusions as examples for ideas in their poetry.  The trick with allusions is they only hold importance if the reader recognizes them!  Read the story of Daedalus and Icarus. We will need this to analyze the following poems!  After reading the story, we will break up into groups to analyze poems with Icarus allusions.

42  Follow the directions on the handout for your group. Everyone in the group is expected to participate!  After 30 minutes of group work, we will reassemble to read the poems out loud and begin on our class-wide compare/contrast paper.  Answer the guided questions on the paper, but come up with some questions on your own and answer them as well. In order to write the paper successfully, each of you needs to be an expert on one of the poems!

43  Each group needs to choose a speaker that can comment on what the group wants to offer as far as support for our compare/contrast essay.  Together we are composing an essay. You will have to do one on your own in a few days, so I suggest you write down EVERYTHING, as you will surely need it when you write your own paper! This IS your guided practice, if you think you’ll need help on the next one, you need to take notes!

44 O Simile, Simile, Wherefore Art Thou Simile?

45  What examples of figurative language can you find? (Here’s a hint, there’s one in the first line!)  How does the use of figurative language lend itself to (or, take away from, if you so interpret) the purpose of the poem?  What do you make of the names the speaker calls the moon? Do they fit? Can you think of better (or, rather, more poetic) ways to name the moon?  What do you make of the last three lines?

46  Aside from the obvious choice, what other figurative language can you find in this poem?  What is the simile? What impact does it have on the purpose of the poem?  Let’s pretend Momaday decided to entitle this poem “Metaphor” and changed the second line. How would it change the tone of the poem, if at all?  In the last line, Momaday says there is “latent flight” in the limbs of the deer. What is that all about? Deer I’ve seen can’t fly, so what does he mean? What literary device is being used here?

47  As we read this poem aloud, make a note of each line that includes an example of figurative language.  Who is the speaker? (Note that the speaker and the poet are not necessarily the same!)  What are the two things he mentions that bend birches? What is the speaker’s tone towards them? Why do you think that is?  What is the general overall tone of this poem? What words indicate that to you?

48 Some say the world will end in fire, Some say in ice. From what I've tasted of desire I hold with those who favor fire. But if it had to perish twice, I think I know enough of hate To say that for destruction ice Is also great And would suffice.  What metaphors is Frost using?  Why do you think Frost used fire and ice? What purpose do they have in life? What purpose do they have in death?

49  Rich is a modern-day poet, so I doubt she has seen any real knights like the one described in the poem. Where do you think the knight is, then?  How many eyes does the knight have? Why?  What is the tone of the poem? What does the speaker think of the knight?  What could the knight’s armor symbolize in the poem? What if it was not a knight, what if it was a woman? How would the symbol change or stay the same?

50 Oooh, look at the pretty pictures!

51 Shape poetry is a poem that literally takes the shape of the content. Sometimes the poet does this on purpose, sometimes it is a fluke, but every time it makes for interesting poetry! What sort of figurative language does this poet use? How does the shape match the content?

52 Is this poem about snails? Why does the poet call it “Snail Speed”? What importance does the snail have? What is the purpose of this poem? How does the shape match the purpose?

53 What is the purpose of this poem? Why do you think the pyramids become smaller as the poem progresses? Why do you think the poet has chosen pyramids as a shape for this poem?

54  Your first shape poem is going to be about one of three general subjects: football, books, or gifts. You can make it literal (a poem about football) or symbolic (think of the snail poem).  Choose your template and write your poem. If I were you, I would pre-write on a sheet of paper before I put it on the template. Color or otherwise decorate your poem however you choose.

55  Tonight, create another shape poem that includes at least 2 examples of figurative language and 2 sound devices. You can make it about whatever you choose (let’s keep it G-rated) so long as it is a shape poem. This one needs to be metaphorical, like “Snail Speed” and “Thoughts”, so no hokey “I Like Trees” poems. Really put some thought into this! You may begin on it if you finish your template shape poem before class is over. This is due tomorrow in class, no exceptions!

56 These are alike, but they’re different, too…

57  What kind of poem is this? (free verse, ode, sonnet, etc.)  What instances of figurative language do you see? Make note of as many as possible.  Does the form match the content?  What do you believe is the poet’s purpose?  What is the tone of the poem? What does the poet think of women?  Jot down any other notes that are indicative of the purpose of the poem.

58  What kind of poem is this? (free verse, ode, sonnet, etc.)  What instances of figurative language do you see? Make note of as many as possible.  Does the form match the content?  What do you believe is the poet’s purpose?  What is the tone of the poem? What does the poet think of the woman?  Jot down any other notes that are indicative of the purpose of the poem.

59  Based on these two poems, “Women” and “Woman”, you are to compose a compare/contrast essay. Remember how we compared/contrasted the two Icarus and Daedalus poems? You need to follow the same processes and format that we used then. If you ask me a question, I’ll answer, “what do your notes say we did on the Icarus poems?” This is why I told you to take notes!  Your essay must be as long as it takes to cover the subject, and I would suspect at least four paragraphs, if not five or more. You have the remainder of class today and tomorrow to finish your essay. It is due before you leave tomorrow.

60 Let’s see what you’ve learned…

61 When I consider how my light is spent Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide, And that one talent, which is death to hide, Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent To serve therewith my Maker, and present My true account, lest He, returning, chide: “Doth God exact day labor, light denied?” I fondly ask; but Patience, to prevent That murmur, soon replies, “God doth not need Either man’s work, or His own gifts; who best Bear His mind yoke, they serve Him best. His state Is kingly. Thousands at His bidding speed, And post o’er land and ocean without rest; They also serve who only stand and wait.” By John Milton

62 When I consider how my light is spent Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide, And that one talent, which is death to hide, Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent To serve therewith my Maker, and present My true account, lest He, returning, chide: “Doth God exact day labor, light denied?” I fondly ask; but Patience, to prevent That murmur, soon replies, “God doth not need Either man’s work, or His own gifts; who best Bear His mind yoke, they serve Him best. His state Is kingly. Thousands at His bidding speed, And post o’er land and ocean without rest; They also serve who only stand and wait.” By John Milton

63 Hear the sledges with the bells - Silver bells! What a world of merriment their melody foretells! How they tinkle, tinkle, tinkle, In the icy air of night! While the stars that oversprinkle All the heavens seem to twinkle With a crystalline delight; Keeping time, time, time, In a sort of Runic rhyme, To the tintinnabulation that so musically wells From the bells, bells, bells, bells, Bells, bells, bells - From the jingling and the tinkling of the bells. “The Bells” by Edgar Allan Poe


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