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Form and Structure in Poetry. “lesson of the moth” by Don Marquis. Essential Question. How can a poem’s form and structure affect its meaning?

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form and structure in poetry

Form and Structurein Poetry

“lesson of the moth”

by Don Marquis

essential question
Essential Question

How can a poem’s form and structure affect its meaning?

As part of the poet’s style, a poem’s form and structure can help a reader understand the poem, help reinforce the meaning, and help determine the pace of the reading.

about the author
About the Author

Don Marquis

  • 1878-1937
  • Considered one of America’s finest humorists
  • Created a comic strip featuring archy—the philosophical cockroach poet
  • Newspaper columnist, novelist, playwright, and poet
lesson of the moth
“lesson of the moth”

What do you know about Dale Earnhardt, Sr.?

Create a wordsplash and list what you know about him.

archy and the moth
archy and the moth

This poem is a conversation between archy, the cockroach, and a moth—two very different characters.

Archy is a very cautious soul who is not willing to take any risks. He always “plays it safe.”

The moth is a risk-taker. He loves life and wants to live it to the fullest—even if it means he risks his life.

Which character is more like you?

before reading
Before Reading…

Open your “green” textbooks to page 250.

Before reading the poem, physically look at it.

What can you tell about the poet’s style simply by looking at the poem?

after reading
After Reading…

Draw the following chart in your notes and complete after you read.


Title of Poem: “lesson of the moth”

Author & Facts: Don Marquis

  • Newspaper columnist
  • Considered one of America’s finest humorists

Subject: risking your life for happiness versus choosing boredom and safety

Occasion: personal experience

Audience: general audience

Purpose: encourages readers to make sure their life is worth living

Speaker: Archy, the cockroach

follow up life lesson
Follow-up: Life Lesson

What life lesson did Archy learn from the moth?

In your notes, describe this lesson and summarize the poem. Make sure to list at least two specific examples that support Archy learning this lesson.