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Reading Poetry

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mark parker

on 2 November 2014

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Transcript of Reading Poetry

Finding Meaning in Poetry:
A 6-step Heuristic

Step 1: Denotative Meaning
denotation: the
meaning of a word, in contrast to the feelings or ideas that the word suggests.
Step 5: Recognizing Imagery and Tone
Self-test: Pretend you're the author of the poem. Now write a single statement in plain language that summarizes the message of your poem. For example:
"Being betrayed makes you feel like you want to die, but then you want to take your revenge."
"Being in love is not fun at all, because the person I love doesn't love me back."
Mark Parker
Treasure Mountain Junior High

heuristics are
using readily accessible, though loosely applicable, information to control
problem solving, learning and discovery
Step 4: Identify Figurative Language
context clues
archaic language
other languages
BY Rhina P. Espaillat
My father liked them separate, one there,
one here (
allá y aquí
), as if aware

that words might cut in two his daughter’s heart
el corazón
) and lock the alien part

to what he was—his memory, his name
su nombre
)—with a key he could not claim.

“English outside this door, Spanish inside,”
he said, “
y basta
.” But who can divide

the world, the word (
mundo y palabra
) from
any child? I knew how to be dumb

and stubborn (
); late, in bed,
I hoarded secret syllables I read

until my tongue (
mi lengua
) learned to run
where his stumbled. And still the heart was one.

I like to think he knew that, even when,
proud (
) of his daughter’s pen,

he stood outside
mis versos
, half in fear
of words he loved but wanted not to hear.
A Noiseless Patient Spider
by Walt Whitman

A noiseless patient spider,
where on a little
it stood isolated,
Mark'd how to explore the vacant vast surrounding,
It launch'd forth
, filament, filament, out of itself,
Ever unreeling them, ever tirelessly speeding them.

And you O my soul where you stand,
Surrounded, detached, in measureless oceans of space,
, venturing, throwing, seeking the
connect them,
Till the bridge you will need be form'd, till the
Till the
thread you fling catch somewhere, O my soul.
Step 2: Analyzing Content
line endings
word placement and punctuation
Step 3: Analyzing Structure (content)
What are the external elements that shape the poem? Who is
the poem, who are they
speaking to
, and
are they saying?
antecedent event
intended audience
speech act
We Real Cool
By Gwendolyn Brooks

The Pool Players.
Seven at the Golden Shovel.

We real cool. We
Left school. We

Lurk late. We
Strike straight. We

Sing sin. We
Thin gin. We

Jazz June. We
Die soon.
by E. E. Cummings

a)s w(e loo)k
S a
rIvInG .gRrEaPsPhOs)
A poem's
is determined by the
number of
in a line, and which syllables are
one foot, or
, contains two syllables
monometer, dimeter, trimeter,
, etc.
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
By Robert Frost

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
is the name for a "paragraph" in poetry. Stanzas are
groups of lines
separated by white space.
Common stanzas in rhyming poetry:
Couplet - a stanza of
Tercet - a stanza of
Quatrain - a stanza of
Sestet - a stanza of
Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night
By Dylan Thomas

Do not go gentle into that good
Old age should burn and rave at close of
Rage, rage against the dying of the

Though wise men at their end know dark is
Because their words had forked no lightning
Do not go gentle into that good
End-rhyme: a rhyme involving the
last words
of the line
Internal rhyme: a rhyme involving a
word in the middle of a line
and another at the end of the line or in the middle of the next.
Rhyme schemes
use letters
to denote rhyming sounds (aba, aaba, etc.)
By Carl Sandburg

Pile the bodies high at Austerlitz and Waterloo.
Shovel them under and let me work—
I am the grass; I cover all.

And pile them high at Gettysburg
And pile them high at Ypres and Verdun.
Shovel them under and let me work.
Two years, ten years, and passengers ask the conductor:
What place is this?
Where are we now?

I am the grass.
Let me work.
To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time
by Robert Herrick

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying;
And this same flower that smiles today
Tomorrow will be dying.

The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun,
The higher he's a-getting,
The sooner will his race be run,
And nearer he's to setting.

That age is best which is the first,
When youth and blood are warmer;
But being spent, the worse, and worst
Times still succeed the former.

Then be not coy, but use your time,
And while ye may, go marry;
For having lost but once your prime,
You may forever tarry.
Introduction to Poetry
By Billy Collins

I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide

or press an ear against its hive.

I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,

or walk inside the poem’s room
and feel the walls for a light switch.

I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author’s name on the shore.

But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.
Ye Flowery Banks (Bonie Doon)
By Robert Burns

Ye flowery banks o' bonie Doon,
How can ye blume sae fair?
How can ye chant, ye little birds,
And I sae fu' o' care?

Thou'll break my heart, thou bonie bird,
That sings upon the bough;
Thou minds me o' the happy days,
When my fause love was true.

Thou'll break my heart, thou bonie bird,
That sings beside thy mate;
For sae I sat, and sae I sang,
And wist na o' my fate.

Aft hae I rov'd by bonie Doon
To see the wood-bine twine,
And ilka bird sang o' its luve,
And sae did I o' mine.

Wi' lightsome heart I pu'd a rose
Frae aff its thorny tree;
And my fause luver staw my rose
But left the thorn wi' me.
what the author meant
what my English teacher says the author meant
crap I make up for my essay
Sonnet CXLVII: My love is as a fever, longing still
By William Shakespeare

My love is as a fever, longing still
For that which longer
the disease,
Feeding on that which
preserve the ill,
Th’ uncertain sickly appetite to please.
, the physician to my love,
Angry that his prescriptions are not kept,
left me, and I desperate now
Desire is death, which
did except.
Past cure I am, now reason is past care,
And frantic-mad with evermore unrest;
My thoughts and my
as madmen’s are,
At random from the truth
For I have sworn

, and thought thee
Who art as black as hell, as dark as night.
Dulce et Decorum Est
BY Wilfred Owen

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs,
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of gas-shells dropping softly behind.

Gas! GAS! Quick, boys!—An ecstasy of fumbling
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime.—
Dim through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,—
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.
Hush'd Be the Camps To-day
by Walt Whitman

Hush'd be the camps to-day;
And, soldiers, let us drape our war-worn weapons;
And each with musing soul retire, to celebrate,
Our dear commander's death.

No more for him life's stormy conflicts;
Nor victory, nor defeat--no more time's dark events,
Charging like ceaseless clouds across the sky.

But sing, poet, in our name;
Sing of the love we bore him--because you, dweller in camps, know it

As they invault the coffin there;
Sing--as they close the doors of earth upon him--one verse,
For the heavy hearts of soldiers.
Sonnet LXI: Since There's No Help
by Michael Drayton

Since there's no help, come, let us kiss and part,
Nay, I have done, you get no more of me,
And I am glad, yea, glad with all my heart,
That thus so cleanly I myself can free.
Shake hands for ever, cancel all our vows,
And when we meet at any time again
Be it not seen in either of our brows
That we one jot of former love retain.
Now at the last gasp of Love's latest breath,
When, his pulse failing, Passion speechless lies,
When Faith is kneeling by his bed of death,
And Innocence is closing up his eyes,
Now, if thou wouldst, when all have giv'n him over,
From death to life thou might'st him yet recover.
You know the denotative meaning of a poem if you can re-state the poem ...
in your own words.
This is called
an implied or indirect reference to a person, event,
or thing or to a part of another text.
A Useful Diagram
(the good stuff)
(a partial list)
love poem
what is being said? what is the motivation of the speaker? what is the message in the words?
What are the
external elements
that shape the poem?
rules of thumb
Ye Flowery Banks (Bonie Doon)
By Robert Burns

Ye flowery banks o' bonie Doon,
How can ye blume sae fair?
How can ye chant, ye little birds,
And I sae fu' o' care?

Thou'll break my heart, thou bonie bird,
That sings upon the bough;
Thou minds me o' the happy days,
When my fause love was true.

Thou'll break my heart, thou bonie bird,
That sings beside thy mate;
For sae I sat, and sae I sang,
And wist na o' my fate.

Aft hae I rov'd by bonie Doon
To see the wood-bine twine,
And ilka bird sang o' its luve,
And sae did I o' mine.

Wi' lightsome heart I pu'd a rose
Frae aff its thorny tree;
And my fause luver staw my rose
But left the thorn wi' me.
Those Winter Sundays
By Robert Hayden

Sundays too my father got up early
and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,
then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather made
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.

I’d wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking. When the rooms were warm, he’d call,
and slowly I would rise and dress,
fearing the chronic angers of that house,

Speaking indifferently to him,
who had driven out the cold
and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, what did I know
of love’s austere and lonely offices?
My Papa’s Waltz
BY Theodore Roethke

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.
Landscape With The Fall of Icarus
by William Carlos Williams

According to Brueghel
when Icarus fell
it was spring

a farmer was ploughing
his field
the whole pageantry

of the year was
awake tingling

the edge of the sea
with itself

sweating in the sun
that melted
the wings' wax

off the coast
there was

a splash quite unnoticed
this was
Icarus drowning
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