Teaching level 5 poetry: 3 musical devices


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Made for Dept of English, Faculty of Arts, Jazan University, Ministry of Higher Education, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

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Teaching level 5 poetry: 3 musical devices

  1. 1. We have to consider the age and level of the students. Students of different ages and levels attended my class.  In my class this semester, for instance, there was a great interest in learning the subject coupled with a general lack of knowledge of even basic English in some students. Potential and ability are high but the foundation is poor. Thus things have to be pitched at a level where the odd „gifted‟ learner does not feel left out and the weakest one is not at a loss too. 
  2. 2. Alliteration: “Alliteration is the use of the same consonant sound (or vowel sound) in words that are near each other. It is the sound, not the letter, that is important: therefore 'city' and 'code' do not alliterate, but 'kitchen' and 'code' do. So does “Indian inside” and “one veil.” Strictly speaking, it is alliteration when these same sounds come at the start of the words, or at the start of their first stressed syllable(Middle English); it becomes consonance when similar consonant sounds are found in other places within the word.” 
  3. 3. Alliteration can be  Consonance of first sound  Assonance of first sound  Sameness of first accented syllable in two neighbouring words.  A general term used for alliteration, consonance and assonance – as in: “The poet uses alliteration.” 
  4. 4. What a consonant is. “In articulatory phonetics, a consonant is a speech sound that is articulated with complete or partial closure of the vocal tract.” For ease: Sounds that are not vowels, in the alphabet, and their phonetic variations. (b,c,d...etc., till z)  Give an example of alliteration and consonants (please note that I mean consonants, and not consonance.  “around the con rock the ragged rascal ran“. 
  5. 5. “Consonance is a poetic device characterized by the repetition of the same consonant two or more times in short succession, as in "pitter patter" - Wikipedia.  "The repetition of final consonant sounds, as in 'First and last,' 'odds and ends,' 'short and sweet,' 'a stroke of luck,' or Shakespeare's 'struts and frets' is CONSONANCE." (Laurence Perrine, Literature: Structure, Sound, and Sense, Harcourt, 1978) 
  6. 6. ”Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in words appearing after their first syllables.” (a,e,i,o,u and its variants, phonetically speaking.)  Eg:-“But he grew old -This knight so bold” – Poe/El Dorado 
  7. 7.          Exercise: Read the following poem‟s first four lines. Underline the alliterative words in each line. Circle the assonantal words in each line. Capitalize consonance. Hint: Sometimes two words can be alliterative, consonantal and/or assonantal. My Puppy Punched Me In the Eye My puppy punched me in the eye. My rabbit whacked my ear. My ferret gave a frightful cry and roundhouse kicked my rear. –Kenn Nesbitt
  8. 8. Line 1: Alliteration and assonance  Line 2: Alliteration, consonance, assonance.  Line 3. Alliteration, consonance and assonance  Line 4. Alliteration, consonance and assonance.  The point is there is room for more than one answer. 
  9. 9. Since we get many answers in such lines, we must try to be simple and clear at level 5 and not teach as if the students are in level 8.  What is important is comprehension of the definitions, not memorization of the same, bringing in no or minimal confusion, clear and good examples and finally as my learning objective the performance of understanding. 
  10. 10.  Beyond teaching the definitions and giving examples and making students spot or identify these things in the poems the aim of the lessons must be to make the students ask why the poet uses such devices and how (functional analysis) and to what effect. Unless this kind of analysis is reached at and the student gives sensible answers, out of a simple and clear understanding and enjoyment and appreciation of the beauty of poetry, the teacher cannot be happy.
  11. 11. The aim must be to help students to love language and literature and of course, the subset poetry, and not to get lost in these dry and boring technicalities  Thank you. 
  12. 12. Wikipedia  Various other sources on the internet and elsewhere…mainly Googled. 