Notice the poem’s form: its shape, its length of lines, and whether or not it has stanzas.
2. Read the poem aloud
Pause at the ends of complete thoughts, not necessarily at the ends of lines. Look for end punctuation to help you find the end of a complete thought.
As you read, see if there is rhyme; listen for rhythm, as well as overall sound of the words in the poem.
3. Visualize the images.
In your mind’s eye, picture the images and comparisons the poem makes.
Do the images remind you of feelings or experiences you have had?
4. Think about the words and phrases.
Allow yourself to wonder about any phrases or words that seem to stand out.
Think about what that choice of words adds to the poem.
5. Try to figure out the theme.
Ask yourself, what’s the point of this poem?
What message is the poet trying to send or help you create?
6. Let your understanding grow.
When you finish reading, you are left with first impressions of the poem.
Over time, you will add to your understanding based on the poem, discussions in class, and other poetry you read.
7. Allow yourself to enjoy poetry.
You may connect with a particular poem because it expresses feelings that you have felt or shows you the world through different eyes.
If you are a dreamer, come in,
If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar,
A hop-er, a pray-er, a magic bean buyer…
If you’re a pretender, come sit by my fire
For we have some flax-golden tales to spin
Elements of Poetry
Poetry is the most compact form of literature. A poem packs all kinds of ideas, feelings and sounds into a few carefully chosen words. The look, sound and language of poetry all work together to create a total effect.
The way a poem looks or is arranged on the page.
Poets choose the arrangement of words and lines deliberately
The form of a poem can add to its meaning
Poetry is written in lines, which may or may not be sentences
Can be devised of one word or many words
Lines are often formed for their rhythmic flow
May contain a common # of syllables as other lines
May contain a similar rhyming pattern as other lines
Stanzas (A poetry paragraph)
Sometimes lines of poetry are separated into groups called stanzas
Stanzas are a way of grouping or dividing lines
A poem may consist of one or many stanzas
* The last line in the stanza rhymes with the last line of all stanzas **Free Verse poems: Do not rhyme and do not follow rules regarding where to divide stanzas.
Vary by combining forms
8 lines Octave
Vary by combining forms
7 lines Septet
Quatrain then Couplet
1 with 6, 2 with 5, & 3 with 4
6 lines Sestet
Couplet then tercet
Tercet then couplet
5 lines Quintet
Lines 2 & 4 rhyme
Lines 1, 2 & 4 rhyme
Lines 1, 2 & 3 rhyme*
4 lines Quatrain
Triplet: All 3 lines rhyme
Lines 1 & 2 rhyme*
Lines 2 & 3 rhyme
Lines 1 & 3 rhyme
3 lines Tercet
Both lines rhyme
2 lines Couplet Rhyming Patterns Number of Lines Stanza Type
2 Main Categories of Poetry:
Narrative - tells a story, usually longer
Lyric - captures a moment, a feeling, or description
Types of Poems:
1. Ballad (Narrative)
Rhyming or song form
Tells a heroic or tragic story
Epic Poetry (narrative)
You many also hear about epic poetry , which is similar to a ballad. Epic poems are long, narrative poems celebrating the adventures and achievements of a hero... epics deal with the traditions, mythical or historical, of a nation. Example: Homer’s “The Iliad.”
2. Limerick (Narrative)
Light, humorous, nonsensical
Follows AABBA rhyme scheme:
Lines 1, 2, 5 rhyme
and lines 3, 4 rhyme
A bridge engineer, Mister Crumpett (A)
Built a bridge for the good River Bumpett (A)
A mistake in the plan (B)
Left a gap in the span (B)
But he said, “Well, they’ll have to jump it.” (A)
3. Poem of Direct Address (Narrative)
Talks directly to another person or thing
Good way to say some things you’ve been keeping to yourself
Can express anger, admiration, respect, thanks or bewilderment
Example: To a Maggot in an Apple,
by Richard Edwards
4. Free Verse (Lyric)
Poetry without predictable rhyme, rhythm or length of line or stanza
If you aren’t careful
it will happen like this: Someone
will say the word
will catapult you down
the halls out
the doors and into
a serious collision
5. Haiku (Lyric)
Form of Japanese poetry
Usually about nature
Three lines that follow a format:
Example: An old silent pond
A frog jumps into the pond
Splash! Silence again.
6. Cinquain (Lyric)
Follows several formats
Line 1: 2 syllables How frail
Line 2: 4 syllables Above the bull
Line 3: 6 syllables Of crashing water hangs
Line 4: 8 syllables Autumnal, evanescent, wanes
Line 5: 2 syllables The moon
7. Acrostic (Narrative or Lyric)
Doesn’t have to rhyme
Uses a few succinct words to tell a story or describe someone
First letter of each line spells the title
Example: Sister S he
I s always
T ime with me.
E ven though she’s
R ather weird.
8. Concrete (Lyric)
Written in the shape of the subject
I am a very special shape I have three points and three lines straight. Look through my words and you will see, the shape that I am meant to be. I'm just not words caught in a tangle. Look close to see a small triangle. My angles add to one hundred and eighty degrees, you learn this at school with your abc's. Practice your maths and you will see, some other fine examples of me.
9. Couplet (Lyric or Narrative)
2 lines make up one stanza
Several of these couplets are written together to make up a poem
They vary in structure depending on the type
The opposite of chair
Is sitting down with nothing there!
What is the opposite of tall?
I’d say it’s something small.
10. Sonnet (Narrative or Lyric)
There are several types, but the most common follows this format:
Contains 14 lines
Every line has 10 syllables
Made up of three quatrains and one couplet
Usually presents a problem, answers the problem and then solves it before the end
Expresses the poet’s feelings
Example: “Sonnet 116” by Shakespeare
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.
William Shakespeare (1564 - 1616)
Elements of Sound
Poems are meant to be read aloud. Therefore, poets choose and arrange words to create the sounds they want the listener to hear. There are many techniques that poets can use to achieve different sounds.
The repetition of accented vowel sounds
Has the same end sound as another word
Example: Mean and Scream
Internal rhyme: rhyming words within a line of poetry.
External rhyme: rhyming words at the ends of lines.
To tell or say again.
Words, phrases, lines, or stanzas are repeated for an effect.
Helps the poet emphasize an idea or create a certain feeling.
Example: He whispered to her sweetly, sweetly, sweetly
The repetition of same or similar consonant sounds in words close together
Usually in the beginning of words
A tongue twister is an example
S illy s ally s ells s eashells at the s eashore.
“ Fifty years ago, I learned to read at a round table in the center of a large s weet- s melling, s team- s oftened kitchen.”
-Sounder, William H. Armstrong
The repetition of rhyming vowel sounds inside the lines of a poem.
Example: "Twinkling tw i l i ght meets tw i ce at the edge of night"( Long i)
The repetition of consonant sounds either inside the lines of a poem or at the end of a line.
Example: "No rm , the wo rm , took the garden by a sto rm this mo rn ."
A word that mimics or imitates a sound
- Buzz, ping, boom
- “There was a slosh as the ham was lifted out of the pot, then a plop , just as it was dropped onto the table.” Sounder , William H. Armstrong
Elements of Imagery
Used to help the reader better relate, understand, picture a thought or offer a new perspective.
May be used to emphasize a point.
Comparison of two unlike things using
like, as, than ,
“ She had a voice like an unoiled gate, but somehow not unpleasant.” A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L’Engle
Comparison of two unlike things NOT using words like, as, than or resembles
A direct statement
May use “is”
“ Amanda took the torn page from Maniac. To her, it was the broken wing of a bird, a pet out in the rain.” Maniac Magee, Jerry Spinelli
Giving human characteristics to nonhuman/nonliving things
“ The house quivered with every gust of wind.” - There will Come Soft Rains , Ray Bradbury
An extreme exaggeration or overstatement used for effect.
These are not literally true, but people make them to sound impressive or to emphasize something.
"It was so cold, I thought my nose would fall off.”
Specific descriptive details that appeals to one or more of the senses
Imagery (made up of sensory details)
The use of sensory details to create a descriptive image in the reader’s mind
Paints a “picture” with sensory details
Example: “I remembered the summers with lightening bugs and honeysuckle smells; the cold winters when the field would be brown and would crackle under my feet.” - The Cay , Theodore Taylor
Literary devices and the elements of poetry help the poet establish the theme.
Just as in fiction, the theme of a poem is the author’s message about life.
#4 Poetry 11/17
What are your feelings about poetry?
Why do you like/dislike it?
What kind of poetry appeals to you most? Why?
Do you have a favorite poem/poet?
What is your favorite topic to write poetry about?