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Introduction to Poetry

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Suzanne Treuel

on 9 March 2015

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Transcript of Introduction to Poetry

Introduction to Poetry
Ms. Treuel

What is the definition of poetry?
Definition of Poetry:
• Poetry is composed of carefully chosen words expressing great depth of meaning.

• Poetry uses specific devices such as connotation, sound, and rhythm to express the appropriate combination of meaning and emotion.

What makes this performance by Marshall Soulful Jones poetry?
After watching this clip from Dead Poets Society, how would you define poetry? Write your response in your notes.
Poetry Slam!
Touch Screen
by Marshall Soulful Jones
Don’t Confuse Tone & Mood!

*Tone and mood are two different aspects
of a poem!
* Tone is the author's or the poet's attitude
towards his or her subject.
*Mood is how the poem makes the reader or the listener feel.

When it comes to using a metaphor device in poetry, a poet can either make the entire poem a metaphor for something, or put little metaphors throughout the poem.

Well, son, I'll tell you: Life for me ain't been no crystal stair. It's had tacks in it, And splinters, And boards torn up, And places with no carpet on the floor -- Bare. But all the time I'se been a-climbin' on, And reachin' landin's, And turnin' corners, And sometimes goin' in the dark Where there ain't been no light.
So boy, don't you turn back. Don't you set down on the steps 'Cause you finds it's kinder hard.
Don't you fall now -- For I'se still goin', honey, I'se still climbin', And life for me ain't been no crystal stair.

Mother to Son
by Langston Hughes

A writer often uses a concrete object to express an abstract idea, a quality, or a belief.
A symbol may appeal to a reader's emotions and can provide a way to express an idea, communicate a message, or clarify meaning.

What is Symbolism?

Poetic Devices & Terms

Introduction to Poetry

To find meaning in a poem, readers ask questions as they read. There are many things to pay attention to when reading a poem:

Title – Provides clues about – topic, mood, speaker, author’s purpose?
Rhythm – Fast or slow? Why?
Sound Devices – What effects do they have?
Imagery – What pictures do we make in our minds?
Figures of Speech – What do they tell us about the subject?
Voice – Who is speaking - poet or character; one voice or more?
Author’s Purpose – Sending message, sharing feelings, telling story, being funny, being descriptive?
Mood – Happy, sad, angry, thoughtful, silly, excited, frightened?
Plot – What is happening in the poem?

Remember, to make meaning, readers must make connections and tap into their background knowledge and prior experiences as they read.

Reading for Meaning

T.S. Eliot, "Burnt Norton
"Words strain, Crack and sometimes break, under the burden, Under the tension, slip, slide, perish, Decay with imprecision, will not stay in place, Will not stay still.”
Notice the choice of harsh words like “burden” and “strain”.


Diction refers to the language of a poem, and how each word is chosen to convey a precise meaning.
Poets are very deliberate in choosing each word for its particular effect,
It's important to know the denotation and connotations of the words in a poem, not to mention their literal meaning, too.



Rhythm is the flow of the beat in a poem.

Gives poetry a musical feel.
Can be fast or slow, depending on mood and subject of poem.
You can measure rhythm in meter, by counting the beats in each line.

The sun stretched its lazy
fingers over the valley.

Giving human characteristics to inanimate objects, ideas, or animals.

Joe is as hungry as a bear.
In the morning, Rae is like an angry lion.

A comparison between two usually unrelated things using the word “like” or “as”.

Would this poem have a different meaning for the reader if the tone was changed?

Tone is the attitude writers take towards their subject .

The mood in this poem is happy. What clues in the poem can you use to determine the mood?

Barefoot Days by Rachel Field

In the morning, very early,
That’s the time I love to go
Barefoot where the fern grows curly
And grass is cool between each toe,
On a summer morning-O!
On a summer morning!

That is when the birds go by
Up the sunny slopes of air,
And each rose has a butterfly
Or a golden bee to wear;
And I am glad in every toe –
Such a summer morning-O!
Such a summer morning!

Mood - Barefoot Days

A blue day
A blue jay
And a good beginning.

One crow,
Melting snow –
Spring’s winning!

By Eleanor Farjeon

Most poems are written in lines.
A group of lines in a poem is called a stanza.
Stanzas separate ideas in a poem. They act like paragraphs.
This poem has two stanzas.

Lines and Stanzas

The rhythm in this poem is slow – to match the night gently falling and the lights slowly coming on.

When the night begins to fall
And the sky begins to glow
You look up and see the tall
City of lights begin to grow –
In rows and little golden squares
The lights come out. First here, then there
Behind the windowpanes as though
A million billion bees had built
Their golden hives and honeycombs
Above you in the air.

By Mary Britton Miller

Rhythm Example

Using words to create a picture in the reader’s mind.


I may sweat to death.
The blood bank needs a river of blood.

An exaggeration for the sake of emphasis.

The mood in this poem is angry. What clues in the poem can you use to determine the mood?

Mad Song

I shut my door
To keep you out
Won’t do no good
To stand and shout
Won’t listen to
A thing you say
Just time you took
Yourself away
I lock my door
To keep me here
Until I’m sure
You disappear.

By Myra Cohn Livingston

Mood - Mad Song

Mood is the atmosphere, or emotion, in the poem created by the poet.
Can be happy, angry, silly, sad, excited, fearful or thoughtful.
Poet uses words and images to create mood.
Author’s purpose helps determine mood.
(See slides 65-72 for examples.)

The rhythm in this poem is fast to match the speed of the stick striking the fence.

The Pickety Fence by David McCord

The pickety fence
The pickety fence
Give it a lick it's
The pickety fence
Give it a lick it's
A clickety fence
Give it a lick it's a lickety fence
Give it a lick
Give it a lick
Give it a lick
With a rickety stick

Rhythm Example

Example: “She hath Dian’s wit” (from Romeo and Juliet).
This is an allusion to Roman mythology and the
goddess Diana.

The three most common types of allusion refer to
mythology, the Bible, and Shakespeare’s writings.

A reference to another piece of literature or to history.

The difference between
a simile and a metaphor is
that a simile requires either
“like” or “as” to be included
in the comparison, and a
metaphor requires that
neither be used.

Lenny is a snake.
Ginny is a mouse when it comes to standing up for herself.

An implied comparison between two usually unrelated things.

To the lay-person, these are called “tongue-twisters”.

Example: How much dew would a dewdrop drop if a dewdrop did drop dew?

The repetition of the initial letter or sound in two or more words in a line.

No Rhyme
No Rhythm
No Meter

This is
free verse.

The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then, moves on.

This does not mean that it uses no devices, it just means that this
type of poetry does not follow traditional conventions such as
punctuation, capitalization, rhyme scheme, rhythm and meter, etc.

Poetry that follows no rules. Just about anything goes.

Let’s see what this looks like in a poem.

Words that spell out sounds; words that sound like what they mean.

Internal rhyme- Words INSIDE the sentence rhyme.

My Beard
by Shel Silverstein
My beard grows to my toes,
I never wears no clothes,
I wraps my hair
Around my bare,
And down the road I goes.

Example: hat, cat, brat, fat, mat, sat

The repetition of sounds End rhyme- the last word on each line rhymes.

What are the onomatopoeia words in this poem?


Noise Day
by Shel Silverstein
Let’s have one day for girls and boyses
When you can make the grandest noises.
Screech, scream, holler, and yell –
Buzz a buzzer, clang a bell,
Sneeze – hiccup – whistle – shout,
Laugh until your lungs wear out,
Toot a whistle, kick a can,
Bang a spoon against a pan,
Sing, yodel, bellow, hum,
Blow a horn, beat a drum,
Rattle a window, slam a door,
Scrape a rake across the floor . . ..

Let’s see what this looks like in a poem.

These examples use the beginning sounds of words only twice in a line, but by definition, that’s all you need.

Let’s see what this looks like in a poem.

She Walks in Beauty

She walks in beauty, like the night
cloudless climes
starry skies
And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellowed to that tender light Which Heaven to gaudy
day denies
Ars Poetica
By Archibald MacLeish
A poem should be palpable and mute as a globed fruit,
Silent as the sleeve-worn stone
Of casement ledges where the moss has grown—
A poem should be wordless
As the flight of birds.

AS you identify similes, you want to ask yourself...

What is author's purpose? What is the author's intention?
What is the symbolism in this poem?
Free Verse
With your partner, take notes and answer the questions.
Type your answers and notes into google docs or a word document.

Annotating Poetry
1. Initial reading of the poem. Write any questions that pop into your head while doing the initial reading.
2. Identify any words that you do not understand and look them up. Write the definitions on the poem.
3. Discover and mark rhyme scheme using a new letter for each end rhyme within the poem.
4. Count the amount of syllables in each line and mark the number at the end of the line.
5. Identify figurative language used within the poem. Think about the literal meaning of each figurative device.
6. Identify sound devices such as alliteration, assonance, and consonance. How does it impact the text?
7. Identify text that is repeated. Is there any reason the author would repeat the text?
8. Look closely at punctuation. Does it reveal anything about the speaker of the poem? (Example: Does it make them seem rambling, confident, nervous?)
9. Circle any words that are impactful or interesting. Determine connotative meaning. Are their any patterns? What does it reveal about the speaker’s attitude towards the topic?
10. Reread the poem. If you are still having a hard time understanding the poem, repeat the annotation process!

Let's Practice
1.) Read "Analysis of Baseball" by May Swenson

2.) Annotate the poem according to your handout

Reading Poetry

What makes poetry different?

Structure~ the way a poem looks on the page.

Line~ a single word, a sentence, or part of a sentence.

Stanzas~ lines arranged into groups.
Losing Face
Finally Mother is proud
of something
I have done.
"My girl won
the art contest,"
she tells the world,
smiling so big
and laughing so loud
her gold tooth
I'm the only one
who knows
how I drew so well,
erasing the perfect lines
I traced,
drawing worse ones
on purpose
in their place.
I feel awful.
I want to tell.
But I don't want to lose
Mother's glowing
proud face.
pg. 579 in Lit Book
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