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Elements of a Poem

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Grant Gruen

on 22 April 2014

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Transcript of Elements of a Poem

Elements of "Bitch" by Carolyn Kizer
Theme
The theme of a poem can sometimes be difficult to narrow down, but it is the message the speaker of the poem is trying to convey to the reader. (Gioia and Kennedy 07) Also, there can be multiple themes located within a poem.
Tone
The tone of a poem displays the attitude of the speaker towards the subject. The tone of a poem is very similar to the tone of a conversation between two people. (Gioia and Kennedy 19)
It is also helpful to consult a list of tone words when narrowing down a tone. Always remember that a tone is usually an adjective.
Subject
While the subject is sometimes confused with the theme, the subject is the "main topic" of a poem. (Gioia and Kennedy 08)
Diction
When constructing a poem a poet must choose their words wisely. Thier choice of words is known as diction. Diction can be either concrete or abstract.
Concrete
words can be picture imediatley by the reader, while
abstract
words must be crafted by the readers mind and might have different meanings to different readers. (Gioia and Kennedy 49-50)
Abstract Dictation Example
In contrast to concrete words, abstract makes the reader develop the image. Also, there are uually no physical references.
For example, in the fourth to last line Kizer describes his "new pets" as "well groomed." The idea of "well groomed" must be constructed in the reader's mind as the speaker is being sarcastic.
Concrete Diction
Two examples of concrete diction are when the speaker instructs the dog. She describes the "choke-chain" and the how the dog starts to "growl." (Kizer 6-10)
G.Gruen
Introduction to Poetry
Lincoln Land Community College
Spring 2014
For example, in the poem "Bitch" the subject is the meeting of an old acquaintance.
One of the themes in "Bitch" is sometimes being silent is better than being vocal towards another.
Bitch
BY CAROLYN KIZER
Now, when he and I meet, after all these years,
I say to the bitch inside me, don’t start growling.
He isn’t a trespasser anymore,
Just an old acquaintance tipping his hat.
My voice says, “Nice to see you,”
As the bitch starts to bark hysterically.
He isn’t an enemy now,
Where are your manners, I say, as I say,
“How are the children? They must be growing up.”
At a kind word from him, a look like the old days,
The bitch changes her tone; she begins to whimper.
She wants to snuggle up to him, to cringe.
Down, girl! Keep your distance
Or I’ll give you a taste of the choke-chain.
“Fine, I’m just fine,” I tell him.
She slobbers and grovels.
After all, I am her mistress. She is basically loyal.
It’s just that she remembers how she came running
Each evening, when she heard his step;
How she lay at his feet and looked up adoringly
Though he was absorbed in his paper;
Or, bored with her devotion, ordered her to the kitchen
Until he was ready to play.
But the small careless kindnesses
When he’d had a good day, or a couple of drinks,
Come back to her now, seem more important
Than the casual cruelties, the ultimate dismissal.
“It’s nice to know you are doing so well,” I say.
He couldn’t have taken you with him;
You were too demonstrative, too clumsy,
Not like the well-groomed pets of his new friends.
“Give my regards to your wife,” I say. You gag
As I drag you off by the scruff,
Saying, "Goodbye! GoodBye! Nice to seen you again."


The tone located in "Bitch" is
unhappy. The speaker is unhappy with the person she is meeting.
Figurative Language
Both of these examples can be immediately pictured by the reader.
Figurative language is language is not to be taken literally. These expressions can compare two objects, ideas, or actions.
Metaphor Example
A metaphor is a comparison between two things without the use of conjunction.
In this poem, the speaker compares her inner self to a rabid dog. This comparison starts on the second line as she states, "to the bitch inside me don't start growling." Throughout the poem she keeps coming back to this comparison.
The idea of being "well groomed"
does not have the same meaning to everyone.
Types of Figurative Speech
Simlie- comparison using a conjunction.
Metaphor- comparison without a conjunction.
Personification- giving a non human human like traits.
Apostrophe- speaking to an object that is not usually spoken to.

Types of Figurative Speech
Overstatement- overselling the point.
Understatement- underselling the point.
Metonymy- substituing one thing for another when describing something.
Synecdoche- describing an object by only describing a portion of it.
Paradox- describing something that in fact is its opposite, but after understand it makes sense.
Pun- "play on words."
Source : Gioia and Kennedy 105-116
Source : Gioia and Kennedy 105-116
Source : Gioia and Kennedy 105-116
How the Elements Work to Support the Theme.
All these elements work together by conveying to the reader the poet's message or theme behind the poem.
Elements like abstract diction display an image in the reader's mind of the conversation the woman is having with other person. Other concrete examples display rivid imagies of the "Bitch" chained up inside the speaker.
Other elements like the metaphor and tone support her feelings toward the person, but in the end she realizes she is better off and walks the other way leaving his "well-groomed pets" to themeselves.
Kizer, Carolyn. "Bitch." Mermaids in the Basement. Port Send, Washington: Copper Canyon Press, 1983. Print. <http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poem/28882>
Gioia, Dana, and X.J. Kennedy. "Introduction To Poetry." Trans. Array. Thirteenth Edition. Longman: Pearson College Division. 2009 01-124. Print
Works Citied
Apostrophe
Example
As the speaker addresses her inner self throughout the poem, the poet displays an example of an apostrophe. Kizer displays this by calling the woman's inner self as the "Bitch" and instructing her to not "start growling."
The woman directly addresses her inner self.
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