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A source of information about poetry as a literary genre

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  1. 1. POETRY ANALYSIS Poetry analysis is focused on: THEME AND MEANING AND POETIC GENRE AND TECHNICAL DEVICES (rhyme, rhythm and meter).
  2. 2. THEME AND MEANING There are often two types of meaning: literal and figurative. The literal meaning of a poem is what actually happens in the poem, on a purely superficial level The figurative meaning is generally associated with the theme, and is usually more abstract (i.e., a concept, rather than a concrete physical description). It is the meaning behind the action
  3. 3. IMAGERY Imagery is the use of language to represent objects, actions, feelings, thoughts, ideas, states of mind and any sensory or extra-sensory experience. An image may be visual (sight), olfactory (smell), tactile (touch), auditory (hearing), gustatory (taste), abstract (appealing to the intellect) and kinaesthetic (related to movement or bodily effort). Imagery is often tightly linked to the symbolic.
  4. 4. SYMBOLISM One chief way of conveying theme is through the use of symbolism, the concrete representation of an abstract concept. These objects are so universal that they have a meaning in themselves, For example, one commonly used symbol for peace is the dove, and so when one flies over a battlefield we may take this as a symbol of a ceasefire, that peace is on its way. If the dove is shot down, we may take this as a symbol of the shattering of hope for peace.
  5. 5. CHARACTERIZATION Although characterization often takes a much less important role in poetry than in prose, it may nevertheless be an integral component in the analysis of a poem dealing with a story (a ballad, for example) or a particular person whose needs and motivations should be understood in order to gain a full appreciation of the poem.
  6. 6. FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE Many images are conveyed by figurative language, such as simile, metaphor and personification .
  7. 7. SIMILE A simile is a comparison of one unlike thing to another, whereby the comparison is explicit (i.e., directly stated) using a comparative such as "like" or "as". Examples: "The clouds drifted past as lazily as swans on a summer night," "The evening smothered us like the heavy down quilt on my grandmother's bed." .
  8. 8. PERSONIFICATION Personification is the attribution of anthropomorphic (human) qualities to something which is not human. An example might be, "The wind climbed into the tree, curling up on a hidden branch and crying out a long and mournful lament of loneliness." Note that the attribution of animal qualities ("The river slid serpentine down its accustomed path") is usually not considered personification.
  9. 9. METAPHOR A metaphor is a comparison of one unlike thing to another, whereby the comparison is implicit (i.e., not directly stated), and there is no use of a comparative. Examples: "The clouds drifted past, lazy as swans on a summer night," "The suffocating quilt of the evening descended upon us, stealing our breath and weighing us down."
  10. 10. TITLE One of the most important parts of any piece of literature is the title. It often forms a cohesive "banner" under which the main idea of the piece is conveyed. Is the title indicative of a struggle, or of the human condition, or is it symbolic of something else? Is it sarcastic or satiric or humorous, or is it fully serious? Is it simply a descriptive title (one that simply states the object or person described in the poem)? Why did the author choose this particular title?
  11. 11. TECHNICAL STRUCTURE Onomatopoeia is the formation and use of words to imitate sounds. The sound of the word reflects the sense, as in crack, whiz, whoosh and sputter. Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds, often close together, to produce euphony (a pleasing sound). Note the drowsy sonority in Tennyson's "Lotus- Eaters": The Lotos blooms below the barren peak:
  12. 12. BALLAD A ballad is fundamentally a song that tells a story. The folk ballad is traditionally an anonymous poem that has been passed on through oral tradition (spoken aloud or sung) from generation to generation or by travelling entertainers like bards or minstrels. A literary ballad is one that is not anonymous, but is written down by a poet as he composes it, and is not necessarily meant to be sung
  13. 13. BALLADS Most ballads tend to follow these elements: the beginning is often abrupt; the language is usually simple; the story is told through dialogue and action; and there is often a refrain, or chorus. Although there are exceptions, most ballads have four-line stanzas (not counting musical refrains) and follow an ABAB or ABCB rhyme scheme. A ballad with six lines per stanza is not uncommon.
  14. 14. EPIC An epic poem is usually a very long poem of several thousand lines relating the story of a hero and his struggle against impossible odds. This is one of the oldest forms of poetry, and was usually recited orally by professional storytellers or singers over several nights, often at a court or feasting table. In fact, the oldest poem in any modern European language is the Old English (Anglo- Saxon) epic Beowulf.
  15. 15. LYRIC A lyric is traditionally fairly short, between four and sixty lines, and usually expresses the feelings and thoughts or a single speaker in a personal and subjective fashion. The range and variety of lyric verse is immense, and lyric poetry composes the bulk of all poetry. If the poem is not narrative or dramatic (which usually follows the other genres given here), it is probably a lyric poem. Most poems fall into the general categories of love, lamentation (sadness) and the pastoral ealing with the natural world).
  16. 16. SONNET A sonnet is a poem of fourteen lines in iambic pentameter (see Meter). For high school purposes, they are usually divided into two main types: - Petrarchian, or Italian Sonnet and - Shakesperean or Elizabethan Sonnet
  17. 17. SONNETS Petrarchan, or Italian Sonnet This sonnet consists of an octave (eight lines) rhyming ABBAABBA and a sestet (six lines) rhyming CDECDE or CDCDCD. This octave develops a thought, and the sestet is a comment on it, a completion of it, or a volta ('turn') on the idea. This is the most common type of sonnet.
  18. 18. SONNETS Shakespearean, or Elizabethan Sonnet This type of sonnet derives its name from the many sonnets composed by William Shakespeare in this form. It is composed of three quatrains (four lines each) rhyming ABAB CDCD EFEF, each one with a different idea building upon the one before it, and of a couplet (two lines) rhyming GG, with the conclusion.
  19. 19. BLANK VERSE Blank verse consists of unrhymed five-stress lines, properly iambic pentameter (see Meter). Much of the poetry of Milton, Wordsworth, Coleridge, and the Romantics were composed in blank verse. For example: For you I'll hazard all: why, what care I? For you I'll live, and in your love I'll die.
  20. 20. FREE VERSE Free verse has no regular meter, line length or rhyme, and often depends on natural speech rhythms. Although a poem can be both a lyric and free verse, this latter term is usually more apt for longer pieces, especially when elements of the narrative or the dramatic are present.
  21. 21. RHYME Although most people are familiar with rhyme, it may be formally defined as the use of words in which there are similarities in an accentuated vowel and the consonants that accompany it. It is said to have two chief functions:  it echoes sounds and is thus a source of artistic satisfaction. There is pleasure in the sound itself and in the coincidence of sounds, and this is associated with music, rhythm and beat;  it assists in the actual structure of verse, organizing it and opening and concluding the sense. It is thus used to 'bind' the verse together.
  22. 22. METER It is the pattern of stressed and unstressedsyllables to communicate rhythm. The best way of analyzing a regular meter is to write out at least two lines, writing "/" (a sharp accent) above stressed syllables (those that carry more emphasis) and "U" (a short accent) above unstressed syllables
  23. 23. METER For example, read the following line aloud and notice what syllables you pronounce more forcefully: U / U / U / U / U / The world is too much with us late and soon A line following the above pattern is common in English literature, especially in sonnets (see poetic genres), and is called iambic pentameter. "Iambic" means it follows an "unstressed-stressed" pattern, and "pentameter" means that it has five sets of two syllables each, amounting to ten syllables. Be sure to note that not all stressed/unstressed syllables fall in an alternating pattern like the above.