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Higher English. Poetic Form. We Are Learning To . Identify features of different poetic forms Appreciate how poetic form can help the development of theme. .

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higher english

Higher English

Poetic Form

we are learning to
We Are Learning To
  • Identify features of different poetic forms
  • Appreciate how poetic form can help the development of theme.

There was a young man from DealingWho caught the bus for Ealing.It said on the doorDon't spit on the floor So he jumped up and spat on the ceiling


There was a young lady from Hyde,Who ate a green apple and died.   While her lover lamented,   The apple fermented,And made cider inside her inside.

  • A poem of five lines.
  • Rhyme scheme- A, A, B, B, A
  • First line often ends with a person or place’s name
  • Usually light-hearted
  • Often risqué
  • Lines 1,2 and 5 are longer (8/10 syllables)
  • Lines 3 and 4 are shorter
  • The limerick is ... constructed of five lines with an anapestic beat. The anapest contains three syllables, the first two of which are unaccented and the last of which is accented.

--/ --/ --/ A (da da DUM da da DUM da da DUM)

  • --/ --/ --/ A (da da DUM da da DUM da da DUM)
  • --/ --/ B (da da DUM da da DUM)
  • --/ --/ B (da da DUM da da DUM)
  • --/ --/ --/ A (da da DUM da da DUM da da DUM)
write your own limerick
Write Your Own Limerick
  • An easy way to get started is to pick a boy’s or girl’s name that has one syllable (like Bill, Tim, Dick, Sue, or Jill). There once was a fellow (or young girl) named ____(pick an easy name with one syllable). We’ll pick “Jill.” So the first line is: “There once was a young girl named Jill.”

Now make a list of words that rhyme with the last word in the first line—in this case, Jill. Your list of rhyming words might include: hill, drill, pill, skill, bill, will, and ill.

  • Now write the second line using one of the rhyming words. Here’s an example: “Who freaked at the sight of a drill.” (Notice that the last words in the first two lines rhyme and that both the first and second lines contain 3 DUMS or beats.)

Now write the second line using one of the rhyming words. Here’s an example: “Who freaked at the sight of a drill.” (Notice that the last words in the first two lines rhyme and that both the first and second lines contain 3 DUMS or beats.)


Now you need to go back to the list of “A” rhyming words to find one that can end the poem. Here’s an example: “Your teeth are quite perfect. No bill.”

  • Read the three sonnets
  • Make a list of as many sonnet rules as you can
the shakesperean sonnet form
The Shakesperean Sonnet Form
  • A fourteen-line lyric poem.
  • Traditionally written in iambic pentameter—that is, in lines ten syllables long.
  • Divided into four parts.
  • The first three parts are each four lines long, and are known as quatrains, rhymed ABAB; the fourth part is called the couplet, and is rhymed CC.
  • The Shakespearean sonnet is often used to develop a sequence of metaphors or ideas, one in each quatrain, while the couplet offers either a summary or a new take on the preceding images or ideas.
sonnet 73
Sonnet 73
  • The speaker invokes a series of metaphors to characterize the nature of what he perceives to be his old age.
  • Each quatrain focuses on a particular metaphor for the speaker's old age.
  • Each quatrain also focuses on a period of time. These shorten as the poem progresses.
first quatrain
First Quatrain
  • That time of year thou mayst in me behold When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang Upon those boughs which shake against the cold, Bare ruin’d choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
first quatrain1
First Quatrain
  • The speaker, addressing his beloved, compares his old age to late autumn/ early winter.
  • He imagines a tree whose leaves have turned yellow, or are ‘none, or few,’. This creates an image of old age as barren and empty. This is reinforced by the images of the trees, ‘which shake against the cold’.
  • ‘Yellow’ is colour symbolism. Often in Shakespeare’s work this represents old age.

......I am like trees as they appear late in the year–either autumn (signified by yellow “leaves”) or early winter (signified by “none”) when most or all of the leaves have fallen from the trees. The boughs of the trees, once alive with choirs of singing birds, now are bare–like empty seats in the chancel or choir loft of a decaying church. (Many churches and monasteries in Shakespeare’s day were in ruins as a result of  King Henry VIII’s crackdown on Catholicism before Shakespeare was born.)

first quatrain2
First Quatrain
  • ‘Bare ruin’d choirs’ is a metaphor for the bare tree branches. It is also a reference to the many ruined monasteries that could be found around England at this time.
  • ‘Where late the sweet birds sang’ is the only reference to sound in the poem. It refers to birds that sang on the trees, but it is also a metaphor for the choirs of monks who once sang in the now ruined monasteries.
  • ‘Late’ highlights that this music has been lost, helping to create a tone of loss/ grief.
second quatrian
Second Quatrian
  • In me thou seest the twilight of such day As after sunset fadeth in the west, Which by and by black night doth take away, Death’s second self, that seals up all in rest.
second quatrian1
Second Quatrian
  • I am also like evening after the “sunset fadeth.” The blackness of night, or death, will eventually take me, sealing me from life as I lie at eternal rest.
  • The speaker uses the metaphor of twilight to emphasize not the chill of old age, but rather the gradual fading of the light of youth, as “black night” takes away the light “by and by”.

‘black night’ is a metaphor for death itself. As 'black night' closes in around the remaining light of the day, so too does death close in around the poet.

  • Death's second self (8): i.e. 'black night' or 'sleep.' Macbeth refers to sleep as "The death of each day's life" (2.2.49).
  • Hamlet- ‘To die, to sleep;

To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;

For in that sleep of death what dreams may come

When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,

Must give us pause:


In the first and second quatrains, the speaker fails to confront the full scope of his problem: both the metaphor of winter and the metaphor of twilight imply cycles, and impose cyclical motions upon the objects of their metaphors, whereas old age is final. Winter follows spring, but spring will follow winter just as surely; and after the twilight fades, dawn will come again. In human life, however, the fading of warmth and light is not cyclical; youth will not come again for the speaker. In the third quatrain, he must resign himself to this fact.

third quatrain
Third Quatrain
  • In me thou see’st the glowing of such fire That on the ashes of his youth doth lie, As the death-bed whereon it must expire Consumed with that which it was nourish’d by.

Finally, I am like dying embers on ashes–the burned-out remnants of the fire of my youth. 

  • As the fire goes out when the wood which has been feeding it is consumed, so is life extinguished when the strength of youth is past.

Life becomes shorter still in this quatrain. It is compared to the dying moments of a fire. This fire will come to rest on the ashes that once sparked it into life. In the same way, once the energy and passion of youth is completely spent life will end.

  • The speaker finally understands death as something permanent in this quatrain. Whereas the changing of the seasons and the passing of day and night occur in (presumably) infinite cycles, a fire is not reborn from its ashes, and its extinguishment means the end. Time is the enemy; Time is Death. The passing of time is the creator and the destroyer of life.
  • This thou perceivest, which makes thy love more strong,    To love that well which thou must leave ere long.
  • ‘Preceivest’ realise/ are aware of
  • ‘This’ the demise of the speaker's youth and passion.
  • ‘That’ a strangely impersonal reference to the speaker/ the young man’s youth.

......The last two lines are addressed to the young man. They appear to have two meanings: (1) You will love the old man all the more because you know that I am near death; (2) you will love and appreciate your own life and youth more because you now realize that the green leaf of youth will soon turn yellow and fall. 

  • There is no imagery in the couplet. It is as if the senses were indeed dead.