Poetry: An Essential Review A brief, essential review of lyric poetry, which are short poems packing an ideaand an emotional response to that idea.
Poetry: An Essential Review • Lyric poems can be thought of as snapshots of a moment in time that have some meaning, some significance to the poet. Instead of using a camera, however, the poet uses words to express the idea and emotion of the moment. The poet uses words to make pictures, just as you might use a camera to take a picture of a beautiful sunset or to capture forever a special moment with friends or family.
Poetry: An Essential Review In the same way as a special photograph, at the heart of each lyric poem is an idea and an emotional response to that idea. This is the soul or core of any lyric poem, the poet expressing feelings and thoughts about his/her life experiences in the world around him/her. A poet chooses to reveal this idea and emotional response using the tools available to him/her as a writer.
Poetry: An Essential Review A writer chooses the tools that best work, in the same way a carpenter uses hammer, nails, a level and saw to build a house, or a cook uses flour, eggs, flavour and milk to make a cake. The more skilled the builder or cook, the more interesting and enjoyable will be the house or cake. In the same way, the skill of the poet using the tools at his/her disposal will produce the more interesting and captivating poem. But what are these tools?
Poetry: An Essential Review The first tool available to the poet is words. This ingredient is as essential as wood to the builder or flour to the cake-maker. The term we use to discuss the use of words by a poet is the word diction.
Poetry: An Essential Review Diction is simply the word choices the poet makes. But finding the exact word to use to be the most effective at his/her goal, which is to communicate those two things – - what are they again? - is part of a pain-staking and timely process.
Poetry: An Essential Review When discussing word choice, we must differentiate between the denotationof a word and theconnotationof that word.
Poetry: An Essential Review • Denotation is the objective dictionary meaning of a word. • Connotation is the subjective, emotional meaning of a word.
Poetry: An Essential Review • An example that might help to understand this concept is the word “vomit.” If we look it up on Dictionary.com, we find the word means: “to eject the contents of the stomach through the mouth; regurgitate; throw up” or “to eject from the stomach through the mouth.” This is the word’s denotation.
Poetry: An Essential Review But the word’s connotation for most of us would definitely be a negative one. For example, if a poet says of the words of a lover to a loved one, “She vomited words of love into his ear”, the meaning is substantially different than if he or she used verbs like “cooed”, “whispered” or “breathed.” But remember, and this is important: the choice of a word is entirely dependent on the intention of the writer and what he/she wants to communicate.
Poetry: An Essential Review The second tool a poet has at his/her disposal is imagery. There are three categories of imagery: A. Sensuous Imagery B. Figurative Imagery and C. Symbolic Imagery Let’s take a look at these categories.
Poetry: An Essential Review A. Sensuous Imagery Simply put, sensuous imagery is the choice of words by a poet in which our senses are “stimulated.” The poet wants us to hear and feel and see the things he/she is experiencing to bring us more immediately to the scene or emotions being described. The poet wants us to experience the poem just as we experience the world around us in every day life…through our senses.
Poetry: An Essential Review There are 6 types of sensuous imagery that we will examine. They are: Visual:Words that appeal to our sense of vision. Auditory:Words that appeal to our sense of hearing. Tactile:Words that appeal to our sense of touch. Gustatory:Words that appeal to our sense of taste. Olfactory:Words that appeal to our sense of smell. Motor:Words that appeal to our sense of motion. Let’s look at real examples of these to help us understand.
Poetry: An Essential Review “The Red Wheelbarrow” by William Carlos Williams so much depends upon a red wheel barrow glazed with rain water beside the white chickens. What words in this short poem appeal to our sense of sight? http://www.roberthuntstudio.com/alterego/archives/red-wheelbarrow2.jpg
Poetry: An Essential Review “This Is Just to Say”: William Carlos Williams I have eaten the plums that were in the icebox and which you were probably saving for breakfast Forgive me they were delicious so sweet and so cold Are there words in this short poem that appeal to your sense of taste? Or touch? In the following poem by Archibald Lampman, what words appeal to our sense of touch? Of sight? Of hearing? Of motion?
Poetry: An Essential Review “Winter Uplands”:Archibald Lampman The frost that stings like fire upon my cheek,The loneliness of this forsaken ground,The long white drift upon whose powdered peakI sit in the great silence as one bound;The rippled sheet of snow where the wind blewAcross the open fields for miles ahead;The far-off city towered and roofed in blueA tender line upon the western red;The stars that singly, then in flocks appear,Like jets of silver from the violet dome,So wonderful, so many and so near,And then the golden moon to light me home—The crunching snowshoes and the stinging air,And silence, frost and beauty everywhere.
Poetry: An Essential Review B. Figurative Imagery. Figurative imagery are figures of speech that help us to see things or understand things in a fresh new way. There are six to which we’ll give our attention here. 1. Simile: Comparisons using “like” or “as” 2. Metaphor: Direct comparisons 3. Personification: Giving life-like qualities to an inanimate object 4. Apostrophe: Addressing the dead or absent as if alive or present 5. Hyperbole: Gross exaggeration not meant to deceive 6. Metonymy: Using a part to represent the whole Let’s take a closer look at each.
Poetry: An Essential Review 1. Simile: A simile compares two unlike objects, finding the quality they share, using “like” or “as”. Again, the poet wants these comparisons to be fresh and new to engage us in our experience with the poem. Let’s check out some examples. In the following piece by Christina Rossetti, can you find a number of similes? What two things are being compared? Name some visual imagery from the second stanza. It may help you to know that “halcyon” means calm and peaceful; “dais” is a raised platform where people are placed to give them respect and honour; and “vair” are furs.
Poetry: An Essential Review “A BIRTHDAY”: Christina Rossetti (1830-1894) MY heart is like a singing bird Whose nest is in a water'd shoot; My heart is like an apple-tree Whose boughs are bent with thick-set fruit; My heart is like a rainbow shell That paddles in a halcyon sea; My heart is gladder than all these, Because my love is come to me. Raise me a daïs of silk and down; Hang it with vair and purple dyes; Carve it in doves and pomegranates, And peacocks with a hundred eyes; Work it in gold and silver grapes, In leaves and silver fleurs-de-lys; Because the birthday of my life Is come, my love is come to me.
Poetry: An Essential Review 2. A metaphor is a comparison of two unlike objects with a quality in common, just as in a simile, but a metaphor is a direct comparison. Let’s checkout a poem that contains examples of metaphors. Ask yourself: What is the metaphor in the following poem? What are the common attributes to the two things compared?
Poetry: An Essential Review “I Am a Rock”: Paul Simon A winter’s dayIn a deep and dark December-I am alone Gazing from my window To the streets belowOn a freshly fallen silent shroud of snow.I am a rock;I am an island. I build walls.A fortress deep and mightyThat none may penetrate.I have no need of friendship; Friendship causes pain.Its laughter and its loving I disdain.I am a rock;I am an island. (more)
Poetry: An Essential Review Don't talk of love.Well, I've heard the word before;It’s sleeping in my memory.I wont disturb the slumber Of feelings that have died.If I never loved I never would have cried.I am a rock,I am an island.I have my booksAnd my poetry to protect me.I am shielded in my armor,Hiding in my room Safe within my tomb.I touch no one and no one touches me.I am a rock;I am an island.And a rock feels no pain,And an island never cries. • http://youtube.com/watch?v=X4_-uinXzwo
Poetry: An Essential Review 3. Personification is the giving of life-like qualities to a non-living or inanimate object. What is personified in the following poem? Why do you suppose the poet chose to use personification in this way?
Poetry: An Essential Review “The Sound of the Stream”: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow The sea awoke at midnight from its sleep, And round the pebbly beaches far and wide I heard the first wave of the rising tide Rush onward with uninterrupted sweep; A voice out of the silence of the deep, A sound mysteriously multiplied As of a cataract from the mountain's side, Or roar of winds upon a wooded steep. So comes to us at times, from the unknown And inaccessible solitudes of being, The rushing of the sea-tides of the soul; And inspirations, that we deem our own, Are some divine foreshadowing and foreseeing Of things beyond our reason or control.
Poetry: An Essential Review 4. Another figure of speech is apostrophe. This is when the poet addresses the absent as if present or the inanimate as if alive. The most famous example would be the poem “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”, in which the speaker is speaking to the absent star as if it were alive and present….a double whammy apostrophe! Here’s another…
Poetry: An Essential Review “Dandelion”: Hilda Conkling O little soldier with the golden helmet, What are you guarding on my lawn? You with your green gun And your yellow beard, Why do you stand so stiff? There is only the grass to fight!
Poetry: An Essential Review 5. The next figure of speech is hyperbole. Hyperbole is a gross exaggeration that is not intended to deceive, but used for emphasis. Example: “I’ve told you a million times not to shoot fireworks in the house!”
Poetry: An Essential Review 6. Metonymy is a figure of speech in which part of something represents the whole. Examples: “All hands on deck!” “Friends, Romans, countrymen: lend me your ears!” “May I approach the bench, your honour?” (in this case, it’s the judge the lawyer wants to approach, not the bench itself; the bench represents the judge)
Poetry: An Essential Review C. Symbolic Imagery. A symbol is the use of a concrete object to represent an abstract idea. Symbolic imagery, then, is the extended use of a symbol in a poem to communicate meaning. In the following poem, what symbols are used? What abstract ideas do they represent?
Poetry: An Essential Review “Up-Hill”: Christina Rossetti Does the road wind up-hill all the way? Yes, to the very end.Will the day's journey take the whole long day? From morn to night, my friend. But is there for the night a resting-place? A roof for when the slow dark hours begin.May not the darkness hide it from my face? You cannot miss that inn. Shall I meet other wayfarers at night? Those who have gone before.Then must I knock, or call when 'ust in sight? They will not keep you standing at that door. Shall I find comfort, travel-sore and weak? Of labor you shall find the sum.Will there be beds for me and all who seek? Yea, beds for all who come.
Poetry: An Essential Review Another set of tools available to the poet, the third in our review, are sound devices. These help bring out the musical qualities of lyric poems. The six we will examine are: a. Alliteration: The repetition of initial sounds b. Assonance: The repetition of vowel sounds c. Consonance: The repetition of consonant sounds d. Euphony: An overall pleasant and calming sound e. Cacophony: An overall harsh, unpleasant sound f. Onomatopoeia: Words that imitate sounds
Poetry: An Essential Review Alliteration is the repetition of initial consonant or vowel sounds in a line of poetry. The well-known children’s poem, “Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers” illustrates this well. Let’s look at another example.
Poetry: An Essential Review “High Flight” by John Gillespie MaGee Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earthAnd danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirthOf sun-split clouds - and done a hundred thingsYou have not dreamed of - wheeled and soared and swungHigh in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring thereI've chased the shouting wind along, and flungMy eager craft through footless halls of air.Up, up the long delirious, burning blue,I've topped the windswept heights with easy graceWhere never lark, or even eagle flew -And, while with silent lifting mind I've trodThe high untrespassed sanctity of space,Put out my hand and touched the face of God. Look for the alliteration used in lines 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 9, 11 & 13.
Poetry: An Essential Review B. Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in a line of poetry. Do you remember what consonants are? Let’s re-visit “High Flight”, and find examples of consonance.
Poetry: An Essential Review C. Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in a line of poetry. Do you remember what vowels are? Look for assonance in the following poem.
Poetry: An Essential Review "REQUIEM"By Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-94) Under the wide and starry sky,Dig the grave and let me lie,Glad did I live and gladly die, And I laid me down with a will. This be the verse you grave for me:Here he lies where he longed to be,Home is the sailor, home from sea, And the hunter home from the hill.
Poetry: An Essential Review D. Euphony is the use of long vowels and soft-sounding consonants that result in a poem having an overall sound of quiet, calm and pleasantness. What sounds in the following poem help create a sense of quiet and calm? Let us read the poem, and then make a list of sounds used that create euphony.
Poetry: An Essential Review Velvet Shoes: ELINOR WYLIE Let us walk in the white snowIn a soundless space;With footsteps quiet and slow,At a tranquil pace,Under veils of white lace.I shall go shod in silk,And you in wool,White as a white cow's milk,More beautifulThan the breast of a gull.We shall walk through the still townIn a windless peace;We shall step upon white down,Upon silver fleece,Upon softer than these.We shall walk in velvet shoes:Wherever we goSilence will fall like dewsOn white silence below.We shall walk in the snow.
Poetry: An Essential Review E. Cacophony is the use of hard consonants and short vowel sounds that give a poem an unpleasant, harsh sound. Look at the following excellent example. How does the harshness of the sound of this poem help communicate the idea within it? After reading it, make a list of the harsh sounds used. By the way, the expression “Dulce et Decorum Est Pro Patria Mori” means “It is good and honorable to die for one’s country.”
Poetry: An Essential Review Dulce Et Decorum Est : Wilfred Owen Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,Till on the haunting flares we turned our backsAnd towards our distant rest began to trudge.Men marched asleep. Many had lost their bootsBut limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hootsOf disappointed shells that dropped behind.GAS! Gas! Quick, boys!-- An ecstasy of fumbling,Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;But someone still was yelling out and stumblingAnd floundering like a man in fire or lime.--Dim, through the misty panes and thick green lightAs under a green sea, I saw him drowning. (more)
Poetry: An Essential Review “Dulce Et Decorum Est” (continued) In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.If in some smothering dreams you too could paceBehind the wagon that we flung him in,And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;If you could hear, at every jolt, the bloodCome gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cudOf vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,--My friend, you would not tell with such high zestTo children ardent for some desperate glory,The old Lie: Dulce et decorum estPro patria mori.
Poetry: An Essential Review F. Onomatopoeia is the use of words that imitate the sound they represent. A partial list of words would include “oink”, “bark”, “ring”, “meow”, “clang”, “bang” and hundreds more. Make a list of at least 5 more.
Poetry: An Essential Review The fourth group of tools the poet uses to create his/her work are formal devices. Formal devices are the use of form in a poem, or the physical structure of the poem. Let’s focus on two: formal structure and rhythm.
Poetry: An Essential Review A poet has the option of a variety of styles for building a poem. Here is a partial list: Stanza: the “paragraphs” in which any poem is divided Ballad: a sung story, divided into 4-line stanzas Sonnet: both types are 14 lines of iambic pentameter, but each is organized differently from the other • Elizabethan or English Sonnet • Petrarchan or Italian Sonnet Couplets: two rhymed lines of iambic pentameter Blank Verse: 5 feet or “groups” of iambic pentameter Free Verse: a non-regular rhythmic and organic form Concrete: takes a shape that reflects its content Haiku: a three-lined, short poem of Japanese origin Limerick: 5 lines of usually humorous poetry
Poetry: An Essential Review Stanzas are the building blocks of poems. It is the name we give the “paragraphs” found in a poem. We’ll see many examples and uses of stanzas as we read poetry. How many stanzas are in the following poem? And to review, how is personification used in this poem? And in what form is the poem written? Be specific!
Poetry: An Essential Review “Check” by James Stephens The Night was creeping on the ground! She crept, and did not make a sound Until she reached the tree, And then She covered it, and stole again Along the grass beside the wall. I heard the rustle of her shawl As she threw blackness everywhere Along the sky, the ground, the air, And in the room where I was hid! But, no matter what she did To everything that was without, She could not put my candle out! So I stared at the Night! And she Stared back solemnly at me!
Poetry: An Essential Review Ballads are made up of quatrains (four-line stanzas), the typical form being that the first and third lines are of four feet, and the second and fourth lines of three feet. Ballads are probably the oldest poetic form in English. It is a form meant to be sung, and many popular songs are still written is this form. Some relatively recent, famous examples are “The Ode to Billy-Joe”, by Bobbie Gentry or “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” by Gordon Lightfoot.
Poetry: An Essential Review O MY LUVE'S LIKE A RED, RED ROSE by: Robert Burns (1759-1796) O MY Luve's like a red, red rose, That's newly sprung in June. O, my Luve's like the melodie, That's sweetly play'd in tune. As fair art thou, my bonie lass, So deep in luve am I, And I will luve thee still, my dear, Till a' the seas gang dry. Till a' the seas gang dry, my dear, And the rocks melt wi' the sun! And I will luve thee still, my dear, While the sands o' life shall run. And fare thee weel, my only luve, And fare thee weel a while! And I will come again, my luve, Tho' it were ten thousand mile!
Poetry: An Essential Review “Ode To Billie Joe” by Bobbie Gentry It was the third of June, another sleepy, dusty Delta dayI was out choppin' cotton and my brother was balin' hayAnd at dinner time we stopped and walked back to the house to eatAnd Mama hollered out the back door "y'all remember to wipe your feet"And then she said "I got some news this mornin' from Choctaw Ridge""Today Billy Joe MacAllister jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge" And Papa said to Mama as he passed around the black-eyed peas"Well, Billy Joe never had a lick of sense, pass the biscuits, please""There's five more acres in the lower forty I've got to plow"And Mama said it was shame about Billy Joe, anyhowSeems like nothin' ever comes to no good up on Choctaw RidgeAnd now Billy Joe MacAllister's jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge
Poetry: An Essential Review And Brother said he recollected when he and Tom and Billie JoePut a frog down my back at the Carroll County picture showAnd wasn't I talkin' to him after church last Sunday night?"I'll have another piece of apple pie, you know it don't seem right""I saw him at the sawmill yesterday on Choctaw Ridge""And now you tell me Billie Joe's jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge"And Mama said to me "Child, what's happened to your appetite?""I've been cookin' all morning and you haven't touched a single bite""That nice young preacher, Brother Taylor, dropped by today""Said he'd be pleased to have dinner on Sunday, oh, by the way""He said he saw a girl that looked a lot like you up on Choctaw Ridge""And she and Billy Joe was throwing somethin' off the Tallahatchie Bridge"