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A Lesson on Poetry: Punctuation and Common Devices

A depiction of poetic devices and punctuation.
by

Shawn Marshall

on 8 September 2013

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Transcript of A Lesson on Poetry: Punctuation and Common Devices

An Introduction to Poetry:
Common Poetic Devices and Punctuation

Caesura -
End-stop -
Enjambment -
"Time" by Shawn Marshall
A Caesura is a strong pause within a line of poetry indicated by punctuation; for example, a semicolon or period.
A punctuation at the end of a line that causes the reader to pause. An end-stop doesn't have to occur at the end of a sentence. For example...
A sentence that continues its logical and grammatical sense onto the next line of poetry without punctuation at the end of the line.
(If it had punctuation it would be an ___-____?)
He is not a father at all.

He is a boy, standing in the
front of the room, with
his back against the wall,
punishment for being harsh
and condescending.

He does not know
what condescending means; so, he remains,
clapping his hands to the four syllables,
as if he were marching in a band,
repeating this word, con-de-scend-ing.

Stubborn,
his consistency assures that he remain here,
out of mind, out of sight;
anxiety does not exist for him; he is always transfixed,
tapping his hands on the wall,
awaiting his vengeance
against us all.
It can be seen here in the first line of W.H. Auden's poem "Spain:"

"The stars are dead; the animals will not look:
We are left alone with our day, and the time is short and
History to the defeated
May say Alas but cannot help or pardon."
At the end of the second, fourth, and six lines in this poem I wrote (By the way, it's untitled! If you can think of a good title let me know!):

"Be careful how you see
when you dream,
who you see
and how they seem;
because what isn't real
often teaches us how to feel."
This can also be seen in my poem at the end of the first, third, and fifth lines:

"Be careful what how see
when you dream,
who you see
and how they seem;
because what isn't real
often teaches us how to feel."
Metaphor -
A comparison between different or unlike things without the use of a comparative word (such as like or as).
Examples of metaphors can be seen or heard in everyday life. I like to laugh at the funny metaphors in lyrics of famous pop-culture icons. For example, Justin Bieber, in his song "As Long As You Love Me," says...

"As long as you love me, I'll be your platinum, I'll be your silver, I'll be your gold."

Obviously, he cannot be platinum, silver, or gold, but, metaphorically, his love is represented by those things.
Line Breaks -
A break in a line of poetry. When quoting poetry, you use a / to indicate line breaks.
"A Cradle Song" by William Blake:

"Sweet dreams form a shade,
O'er my lovely infants head.
Sweet dreams of pleasant streams,
By happy silent moony beams"

When quoted in an essay, this stanza would look like this: "Sweet dreams form a shade, / O'er my lovely infants head. / Sweet dreams of pleasant streams, / By happy silent moony beams."
Imagery -
A poet's use of an image to help convey meaning. Sometimes certain images can have connotations; for example, the way light is associated with good, life, or heaven, and dark is associated with evil, death, or hell.
"A Dream" by Edgar Allan Poe:

"In visions of the dark night
I have dreamed of joy departed-
But a waking dream of life and light
Hath left me broken-hearted."
I encourage you to take notes on your graphic organizer, and to pay special attention, not only to what each of the terms mean, but, specifically, how they are used and what effects they add to the reading or meaning of the poem. If you have any questions feel free to ask!
Rhyme Scheme -
A pattern of words, usually found at the end of a line of poetry, that rhyme. Rhyme schemes are indicated by the usage of letters. For instance...
The ABABCDCD... rhyme scheme in Shakespeare's "Sonnet 130:"

My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips' red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damask'd, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground:
And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.
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