Elements of Poetry and Fiction
<ul><li>Diction refers to both the choice and the order of words. It has typically been split into  vocabulary  and  synta...
<ul><li>The whiskey on your breath  Could make a small boy dizzy;  But I hung on like death:  Such waltzing was not easy. ...
<ul><li>What is Roethke looking to say with the line “Such waltzing was not easy”? </li></ul><ul><li>What are some of the ...
<ul><li>This understated observation emphasizes that we are partially, even largely, in the mind of a child in this poem. ...
<ul><li>These are unusual and arresting lines in terms of diction, and they signal a change in the poem. Not only is  coun...
<ul><li>Is this a nice poem about a boy dancing with his father… </li></ul><ul><li>OR </li></ul><ul><li>Could this be a po...
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Understanding Diction

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Understanding Diction

  1. 1. Elements of Poetry and Fiction
  2. 2. <ul><li>Diction refers to both the choice and the order of words. It has typically been split into vocabulary and syntax. The basic question to ask about vocabulary is &quot;Is it simple or complex?&quot; The basic question to ask about syntax is &quot;Is it ordinary or unusual?&quot; Taken together, these two elements make up diction. When we speak of a &quot;level of diction,&quot; we might be misleading, because it's certainly possible to use &quot;plain&quot; language in a complicated way, especially in poetry, and it's equally possible to use complicated language in a simple way. It might help to think of diction as a web rather than a level: There's typically something deeper than a surface meaning to consider, so poetic diction is, by definition, complex. </li></ul>http://bcs.bedfordstmartins.com/Virtualit/poetry/diction_def.html
  3. 3. <ul><li>The whiskey on your breath Could make a small boy dizzy; But I hung on like death: Such waltzing was not easy. We romped until the pans Slid from the kitchen shelf; My mother’s countenance Could not unfrown itself. The hand that held my wrist Was battered on one knuckle; At every step you missed My right ear scraped a buckle. You beat time on my head With a palm caked hard by dirt, Then waltzed me off to bed Still clinging to your shirt. </li></ul>
  4. 4. <ul><li>What is Roethke looking to say with the line “Such waltzing was not easy”? </li></ul><ul><li>What are some of the images you see with the lines </li></ul><ul><li>“ My mother’s countenance </li></ul><ul><li>Could not unfrown itself”? </li></ul><ul><li>What do you think this poem is about? </li></ul>
  5. 5. <ul><li>This understated observation emphasizes that we are partially, even largely, in the mind of a child in this poem. There are more precise ways to describe the dance, but a child would probably not use a more sophisticated vocabulary. </li></ul>http://bcs.bedfordstmartins.com/Virtualit/poetry/elements_popups_waltz/diction_pop1.html
  6. 6. <ul><li>These are unusual and arresting lines in terms of diction, and they signal a change in the poem. Not only is countenance a relatively unusual word for facial expression, but the idea that the countenance has control over itself is odd. Also, unfrown is a made-up word, albeit one whose meaning is clear enough. These lines give special emphasis to the speaker’s consciousness of his mother. She is not mentioned anywhere else in the poem, but her disapproval of this scene and her apparent inability to do anything about it except scowl intensify the danger of the situation. If there is something potentially tragic about the interaction between father and child, there is also an audience for the tragedy. </li></ul>http://bcs.bedfordstmartins.com/Virtualit/poetry/elements_popups_waltz/diction_pop2.html
  7. 7. <ul><li>Is this a nice poem about a boy dancing with his father… </li></ul><ul><li>OR </li></ul><ul><li>Could this be a poem about a father who drinks too much and beats his son? </li></ul>

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