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Poetry

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by

David Skonecki

on 4 March 2015

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Transcript of Poetry

Poem Structure- Lines and Stanzas
The line is the building block
What is Poetry?
People used to define it as having 'rhyme and rhythm".
Poetry Meter
Meter is a way of measuring a line of poetry based on the rhythm of the words.
Rhyme Schemes
Why Rhyme?
Poetry
http://www.creative-writing-now.com/
However, the definition has changed.
Not all poetry fits into a standard form.
So, what is Poetry?
First, poetry looks like poetry.
While prose is organized with sentences and paragraphs, poetry is normally organized into lines.
Notice the difference between
Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying:
And this same flower that smiles to-day
To-morrow 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.
and
Gather ye rosebuds while ye may, Old Time is still a-flying: and this same flower that smiles to-day to-morrow 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.
If you print a page in prose, the ends of the lines depend on where the margin is. In poetry, the poet decides where the lines end.
This line structure determines how we read the poem. It impacts both
speed

and
rhythm
It also impacts how the poem looks physically on the page.
Poetry communicates with the way words sound and the way words look on the page.
Poetry relies on the
physical aspects of language
Just as music can make us feel things - angry, irritable, peaceful, sad, triumphant, poems work in the same way. However, instead of sound and rhythm created by instruments, they use the sound and rhythm of words.
The look of the poem on the page adds still another dimension. Some poems have smooth shapes, some have delicate shapes, some have heavy, dense shapes. The breaks in the lines lead our eyes to certain areas. There are even poems with shapes that intentionally imitate what the poem is about, for example, a poem about a waterfall could have lines that trickle down the page.
Poetry uses concentrated language.
The words in poems do one thing with their meaning, and another thing with their sound. Even their meaning may be working on more than one level.
One reason why poems are often short is that they eliminate unnecessary words.
Poetry makes use of irrational
and emotional connections.
Prose is logical. It explains and describes things; it makes sense.
Poetry is logical too, but it also works on an emotional and irrational level at the same time.
One way that poems do this is through the use of sound and sound devices. Poems also tend to suggest things beyond what they actually say; often what causes the strongest emotions is not what the poem describes, but what it make the reader imagine.
The basic building-block of prose

is the sentence. In Poetry, it is the
poetic line
.
Poets decide how long each line is going to be and where it will break off
Look at this example:

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying:
And this same flower that smiles to-day
To-morrow will be dying.

Why do you think the poem looks like this?
The length of the lines and the line breaks are important choices that will affect:

•The sound of the poem
•The speed of reading
•How the poem looks on the page
•Emphasis
Types of Lines
Lines that finish at ends of sentences or at natural stopping points (for example, at a comma) are called end-stopped lines. Here's an example:

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying:
Lines that in the middle of the natural flow of a sentence are called run-on or enjambed lines. For example:

But being spent, the worse, and worst
Times still succeed the former.
The type of poem determines the line break. However, free-verse gives the poet more options.
And groups of lines create stanzas.
In prose, ideas are usually grouped together in paragraphs. In poems, lines are often grouped together into
stanzas
. Like paragraphs, stanzas are often used to organize ideas.
For example, look at the following:

I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

Tomorrow,
I'll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody'll dare
Say to me,
"Eat in the kitchen,"
Then.

Can you explain the idea behind each stanza?
How do you make decisions about form?
So many decisions to make --
line length, line breaks, arrangement, speed, rhythm
. How should you choose? First, think what the poem's about. If the poem is about flying, you probably don't want lines that feel slow and heavy. If you're writing a sad poem, short bouncy lines might not be the way to go.
Suggestions:
•Let your ideas flow.
•Then, go back to the poem later and work on
improving the poem structure and form.
Why is this important to know?

1. As a reader, knowing about meter helps you understand how a poem is put together. You can see what rules the poet was following and how he or she used or went outside those rules.

2. If you want to write poetry, knowing about meter will make you a better poet.
Poetry meter - stressed syllables and the iambic foot
Meter measures lines of poetry based on stressed and unstressed syllables. When we speak, we put the stress on a certain part of each word.
Look at the words "apple" and "fantastic."

When we say the word "
apple
," we stress the first syllable, the "ap" part. We say "
AP-ple
," how not "ap-PLE."

When we say the word "
fantastic
," we stress the second syllable. We say, "
fan-TAS-tic
," not "FAN-tas-tic" or "fan-tas-TIC."
In poetry, a unit of stressed and unstressed syllables is called a
foot
. For example the rhythm of this line
from
Shakespeare:
"No longer mourn for me when I am dead."
is,
"bah-BAH bah-BAH bah-BAH bah-BAH bah-BAH
. We read it like this:
"no LON-ger MOURN for ME when I am DEAD."
The type of foot Shakespeare used here is called an
iamb
. An
iamb
or an
iambic foot
has the rhythm
bah-BAH. An unstressed syllable, then a stressed one
. The iamb is the most common kind of foot in English poetry.

Ex.
But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks?
It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.
Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon,
Who is already sick and pale with grief,
That thou her maid art far more fair than she:
Be not her maid, since she is envious;
Her vestal livery is but sick and green
And none but fools do wear it; cast it off.
Other Examples of iambic foot:

above (say, "a-BOVE")
support (say, "sup-PORT")
hurray (say, "hur-RAY").
Poetry meter - other types of foot:
The
trochee
or
trochaic foot
. This is the opposite of an iamb -- the rhythm is
BAH-bah
, like the words "
apple
," and "
father
."

Ex.
Earth, receive an honoured guest;
William Yeats is laid to rest:
Let this Irish vessel lie
Emptied of its poetry.

Poetry meter - counting the feet
Poetry meter - meter and rhythm
If there's
one foot per line
, it's
monometer
. Poetry written in monometer is very rare.

If there are are
two feet
per line, it's called
dimeter
. Example: "
Eat your dinner." BAH-bah (1) BAH-bah (2)
.

Three feet per line = trimeter
. Example:
"I eat the bread and cheese." Bah-BAH (1) bah-BAH (2) bah-BAH (3)
.
Four feet per line = tetrameter
. Example:
"Father ordered extra pizza." BAH-bah (1) BAh-bah (2) BAH-bah (3) BAh-bah (4).

Five feet per line = pentameter
. Example:
"I'll toast the bread and melt a piece of cheese." Bah-BAH (1) bah-BAH (2) bah-BAH (3) bah-BAH (4) bah-BAH (5)
.

Six feet per line = hexameter
or
Alexandrine
. Example:
"I'll toast the bread and melt a piece of cheese, okay?" Bah-BAH (1) bah-BAH (2) bah-BAH (3) bah-BAH (4) bah-BAH (5) bah-BAH (6)
.

Seven feet per line = heptameter
.

etc.
When you read metered poetry you may notice that the meter is sometimes sounds uneven or is hard to hear. Meter is just a form of measurement. The real rhythm of a poem is more complicated than that:

None of us talk like robots. We give certain words and sounds more emphasis than others in a sentence, depending on a number of factors. So not all of the stressed syllables have the same amount of stress, etc.

We pause at the ends of ideas or the ends of sentences, even if these occur partway through a poetic line. So this creates a rhythmically variation.

Poets vary meter or make exceptions in order to create desired rhythmic effects.
Shakespeare
But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks?
It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.
Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon,
Who is already sick and pale with grief,
That thou her maid art far more fair than she:
Be not her maid, since she is envious;
Her vestal livery is but sick and green
And none but fools do wear it; cast it off.
To give pleasure. Rhyme, done well, is pleasing to the ear. It adds a musical element to the poem, and creates a feeling of "rightness," of pieces fitting together.

To deepen meaning. Rhyming two or more words draws attention to them and connects them in the reader's mind.

To strengthen form. In many traditional forms, a regular pattern of rhymes are at the ends of the lines. This means that even if the poem is being read out loud, listeners can easily hear where the lines end, can hear the shape of the poem.
Rhyme schemes - internal rhymes and end rhymes
Rhyme schemes - true rhymes and off-rhymes
Rhyme schemes
When the last word in a line of poetry rhymes with the last word in another line, this is called an
end rhyme
When words in the middle of a line of poetry rhyme with each other, this is called an
internal rhyme
.
Can you find the end rhymes and internal rhymes in the following poem?

The fair breeze blew, the white foam flew,
The furrow followed free;
We were the first that ever burst
Into that silent sea.
"Smart" and "art"; "fellow" and "yellow"; "surgery" and perjury" -- these are all examples of
true rhymes
, or exact rhymes because the final vowel and consonant sounds (or the final syllables in the longer words) are exact matches to the ear.
"Fate" and "saint"; "work" and "spark"; are
examples of
off-rhymes
, or
slant-rhymes
.
In each case, part of the sound matches
exactly, but part of it doesn't. Using
off- rhymes
gives your more options for rhyming.
The pattern of rhymes in a poem is written with the letters
a, b, c, d
, etc. The first set of lines that rhyme at the end are marked with
a
. The second set are marked with
b
, etc.
Example of an
abab
rhyme scheme:

GATHER ye rosebuds while ye may,
(a)
Old Time is still a-flying:
(b)
And this same flower that smiles to-day
(a)
To-morrow will be dying.
(b)
E
xample of an
abcb
rhyme scheme:

The itsy bitsy spider
(a)
Went up the water spout
(b)
Down came the rain
(c)
And washed the spider out
(b)
Example of a
abab cdcd efef

gg
rhyme scheme
:

When I consider every thing that grows
(a)
Holds in perfection but a little moment,
(b)
That this huge stage presenteth nought but shows
(a)
Whereon the stars in secret influence comment;
(b)
When I perceive that men as plants increase,
(c)
Cheered and checked even by the self-same sky,
(d)
Vaunt in their youthful sap, at height decrease,
(c)
And wear their brave state out of memory;
(d)
Then the conceit of this inconstant stay
(e)
Sets you most rich in youth before my sight,
(f)
Where wasteful Time debateth with decay
(e)
To change your day of youth to sullied night,
(f)
And all in war with Time for love of you,
(g)
As he takes from you, I engraft you new.
(g)
The
anapest
or
anapestic foot
. This sounds like
bah-bah-BAH
, like the words "
underneath
" and "
seventeen
."

Ex.
The Assyrian came down like the wolf on the fold,
And his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold;
And the sheen of their spears was like stars on the sea,
When the blue wave rolls nightly on deep Galilee.

Like the leaves of the forest when Summer is green,
That host with their banners at sunset were seen:
Like the leaves of the forest when Autumn hath blown,….

For the Angel of Death spread his wings on the blast…
And their hearts but once heaved, and forever grew still!
The
dactyl
or
dactylic foot
. This is the opposite of an anapest -- the rhythm is
BAH-bah-bah
," like the the words "
elephant
" and "
stepmother
."

Ex.
Just for a handful of silver he left us
Just for a riband to stick in his coat
Free verse
does not follow any particular rhythm or rhyme scheme.

Ex.
A noiseless patient spider,
I mark’d where on a little promontory it stood isolated,
Mark’d how to explore the vacant vast surrounding,
It launch’d forth filament, 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,
Till the bridge you will need be form’d, till the ductile anchor hold,
Till the gossamer thread you fling catch somewhere, O my soul.
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