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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 Poetry


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    1. Elements of Poetry From: Elements of Literature

    2. 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. • 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.

    3. 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.

    4. 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.)

    5. 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. • http://www.loc.gov/poetry/180/p180-howtoread.html

    6. 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.

    7. 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.

    8. 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. 

    9. “Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou You 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.

    10. 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 • Refrain • Alliteration • Assonance • Onomatopoeia • Metaphors and Similes • Imagery • Free verse

    11. Rhythm • The repetition of stressed and unstressed syllables • 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.

    12. “For My Grandmother” by Countee Cullen This 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 unstressed

    13. Meter • 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.

    14. “For My Grandmother” by Countee Cullen This 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 unstressed

    15. Rhyme • The chiming effect a poem creates-the singsong sound, the music- is done with rhyme. • Rhyme is when sounds match in words. • There are several types of rhyme.

    16. Types of Rhyme • End rhyme (rhyme at the end) • Couplet (two end words in two lines next to each other in a poem rhyme) • Internal rhyme (the rhyming words are in the middle of the lines, not the ends.) • Exact rhyme (the rhyming sounds are exactly the same sounds) • Approximate rhyme-sometimes called: near rhyme, imperfect rhyme, slant rhyme (the rhyming sounds are close, but not exactly the same)

    17. 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 Silverstein I'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. …

    18. More end rhymes: The panther is like a leopard, Except is hasn’t been peppered. -Ogden Nash From “The Panther” Even though it’s spelled differently, the ending sound is the same in both words.

    19. “The Cat in the Hat” by Dr. Seuss

    20. Couplet • A couplet is when two consecutive lines (lines following each other-right next to each other in the poem) rhyme with each other at the end. • Shakespearean sonnets perfect the use of couplets! Each sonnet closes with a couplet.

    21. 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. (That’s a perfect couplet!)

    22. Shakespeare Sonnet #130 My 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 know That 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. (Here’s another perfect couplet.)

    23. Internal rhyme Rhymes 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. Service Now Sam McGee was from Tennessee, where the Cotton 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. …

    24. 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

    25. Ode to a Toad by Anne-Marie Wulfsberg, Concord-Carlisle High School, Concord, Massachusetts I was out one day for my usual jog (I go kinda easy, rarely full-hog) When I happened to see right there on the road The 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 grand scheme of things, now I confess, What’s one little froggie more or less?

    26. 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 • Inside-Light • Mouse- out

    27. Introduction to Poetry by Billy Collins I ask them to take a poem and hold it up to the light like a color slide or 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-ski Across 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 rope and torture a confession of out it. They begin beating it with a hose to find out what it reallymeans.

    28. Refrain • A line or group of lines that is repeated throughout a poem, usually after every stanza.

    29. “Lord Neptune” an example of using a refrain • http://www.poetryarchive.org/childrensarchive/singlePoem.do?poemId=398

    30. “Refrain” • Refrain by Allen Ginsberg • The air is dark, the night is sad,I lie sleepless and I groan.Nobody cares when a man goes mad:He is sorry, God is glad.Shadow changes into bone.Every shadow has a name;When I think of mine I moan,I hear rumors of such fame.Not for pride, but only shame,Shadow changes into bone.When I blush I weep for joy,And laughter drops from me like a stone:The aging laughter of the boyTo see the ageless dead so coy.Shadow changes into bone.

    31. “The Raven” by Edgar Allen Poe "Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil! prophet still, if bird or devil! Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore, Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted On this home by Horror haunted tell me truly, I implore Is there is there balm in Gilead? tell me tell me, I implore!" Quoth the raven, "Nevermore." "Prophet!' said I, "thing of evil! prophet still, if bird or devil! By that Heaven that bends above us by that God we both adore Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn, It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels named Lenore Clasp a rare and radiant maiden, whom the angels named Lenore?" Quoth the raven, "Nevermore." "Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!" I shrieked upstarting "Get thee back into the tempest and the Night's Plutonian shore! Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken! Leave my loneliness unbroken! quit the bust above my door! Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!" Quoth the raven, "Nevermore." And the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door; And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming, And the lamp-light o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor; And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor Shall be lifted nevermore.

    32. 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

    33. 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?

    34. Excerpts from “Paul Revere’s Ride” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow …Just as the moon rose over the bay, Where swinging wide at her moorings lay The Somerset, British man-of-war; A phantom ship, with each mast and spar Across the moon like a prison bar, And a huge black hulk that was magnified by its own reflection in the tide.

    35. Assonance • Repetition of VOWEL sounds in words that are close together. • Annie chose an apple. • The creature bleated when the floor creaked.

    36. “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night” by Dylan Thomas • http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/15377

    37. “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.

    38. 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.

    39. “Cynthia in the Snow” by Gwendolyn Brooks (remember “We Real Cool”? She wrote that, too) • It SUSHES.It hushesThe loudness in the road.It flitter-twitters,And laughs away from me. It laughs a lovely whiteness,And whitely whirs away,To be,Some otherwhere,Still white as milk or shirts.So beautiful it hurts.

    40. “Honkey Tonk in Cleveland, Ohio” by Carl Sandburg It's a jazz affair, drum crashes and cornet razzes. The trombone pony neighs and the tuba jackass snorts. The banjo tickles and titters too awful. The chippies talk about the funnies in the papers. The cartoonists weep in their beer. Ship riveters talk with their feet To the feet of floozies under the tables. A quartet of white hopes mourn with interspersed snickers: "I got the blues. I got the blues. I got the blues." And . . . as we said earlier: The cartoonists weep in their beer.

    41. “BOUNCING BASKETBALL” by Lee Emmett • bounce, dribble, bouncestumble, thud, stopbounce, bounce, take aiminto basket droprebound, dribble, bouncejump, reaching, stretchsmack, hit back-boardthump, weeping, retchumpire whistles, calls ‘foul’coach mumbles, players grumbleshrill blast, time-out’s pastback to task, run, rumble

    42. 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.

    43. Simile: Uses “like” or “as” to make comparison. • The river is like a snake winding through the grass. • The moon is like a yellow piece of cheese sitting in the sky. • Her smile is as cutting as a scythe.

    44. A Dream Deferred by Langston Hughes • What happens to a dream deferred? • Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun? Or fester like a sore-- And then run? Does it stink like rotten meat? Or crust and sugar over-- like a syrupy sweet? • Maybe it just sags like a heavy load. • Or does it explode?

    45. The Base Stealer by Robert Francis • Poised between going on and back, pulledBoth ways taut like a tightrope-walker,Fingertips pointing the opposites,Now bouncing tiptoe like a dropped ballOr a kid skipping rope, come on, come on,Running a scattering of steps sidewise,How he teeters, skitters, tingles, teases,Taunts them, hovers like an ecstatic bird,He's only flirting, crowd him, crowd him,Delicate, delicate, delicate, delicate - now!

    46. A Narrow Fellow in the Grass by Emily Dickinson • A narrow Fellow in the GrassOccasionally rides--You may have met Him--did you notHis notice sudden is--The Grass divides as with a Comb--A spotted shaft is seen--And then it closes at your feetAnd opens further on--He likes a Boggy AcreA Floor too cool for Corn--Yet when a Boy, and Barefoot--I more than once at NoonHave passed, I thought, a Whip lashUnbraiding in the SunWhen stooping to secure it,It wrinkled, and was gone--Several of Nature's PeopleI know, and they know me--I feel for them a transportOf cordiality--But never met this FellowAttended, or aloneWithout a tighter breathingAnd Zero at the Bone--*

    47. Predictable by Bruce Lansky • Poor as a church mouse. strong as an ox, cute as a button, smart as a fox. • thin as a toothpick, white as a ghost, fit as a fiddle, dumb as a post. • bald as an eagle, neat as a pin, proud as a peacock, ugly as sin. • When people are talking you know what they'll say as soon as they start to use a cliché.

    48. You try it: • Clever by _____________ • As poor as a _______. As strong as an ______, As cute as a ______, As smart as ______. • As thin as a ______, As white as a ______, As fit as a ______ As dumb as a ______. • As bald as an ______, As neat as a ______, As proud as a ______, As ugly as ______. • Use fresh similes when you speak and you write, so your friends will think you are quite clever and bright.