What Is Free Verse?• It is a relatively modern form of poetry.• It doesn’t rhyme or have any regular rhythm.• It doesn’t have a set number of lines of syllables per line.
Is Free Verse Formless?• Free verse relies on the content of the poem and the words in the poem to determine its form and shape the reader’s understanding.
Nature and Free Verse• Like haiku, free verse can attempt to capture that “a-ha” moment resulting from closely observing nature.• Free verse can also use nature to make comments about the human condition, families, relationships, and even politics.
Voice• The speaker of the poem is not always the poet.• The speaker of the poem is referred to as the “voice” of the poem.• Read carefully to see what attributes the voice has, what kind of person is represented by the voice.
Images• Free verse about nature relies on images for much of its meaning.• Imagery appeal to our senses.• You can see, hear, taste, feel, or even smell the image in your mind. For example, if the poem mentions “falling snow,” you have the image of cold, white snow. You might even have an image of the sound-deadening property of newly fallen snow or the clean smell of snow.
Metaphor• A metaphor is a more direct comparison than a simile. A metaphor states that something is something else.• Metaphors do not use “like” or “as.”• For example, a poem might say, “The white snow was paper on which I wrote my name.”
Simile• A simile is a comparison of two object using the word “like” or “as.”• For example, a poem might use the simile, “as white as newly fallen snow.”
Symbols• A symbol is something that represents more than itself.• For example, a poem might use newly fallen snow as a symbol for a pure, pristine, untouched world.
Alliteration• Alliteration is the repeated initial consonant sounds.• Examples: “do or die,” “sink or swim.”
Assonance• Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in successive words.• Examples: “free and easy,” and “day and play.”
Consonance• Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in successive words.• Examples: “short and smart,” and “struts and frets.”
Theme• The theme of a poem is the cental topic, subject, or concept of the poem.• When you answer the question, “what is this poem about,” you are identifying the theme.
Analyzing Free Verse Steps 1-51. Read the poem to identify unfamiliar words. Then look them up.2. Read the poem again. This time pay attention to what happens in the poem. What is being described?3. Focus on the voice. Is the speaker of the poem the poet or someone/something else who has a specific slant on reality?4. Focus on the images. How strong are they for you?5. Focus on similes and metaphors. How do they help you understand the poem?
Analyzing Free Verse Steps 6-106. Focus on symbols. Do they provide additional meanings?7. Read the poem again—aloud. Focus on its sound. Do you notice alliteration, assonance, or consonance? These usually don’t contribute to meaning, but contribute to the poem’s beauty .8. Focus on the theme. What is this poem about? Try to use as few words as possible. You can often boil the theme down to one or two words—life, death, motherhood, love, change, etc.9. Focus on the poet’s approach to the theme. What stand did the poet take? What was the poet’s “take” on the theme. Try to describe the poet’s approach in a sentence or two.10. Reflect on the poem. Why did the poet take this approach to the theme? Did it work? Do you agree? What makes you think that? Gather evidence to support your interpretation. You will use your evidence for your analysis of the poem.
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