scholars believe media and arts that do not show the audience things (such as a
play or a movie) are more powerful and thought provoking.
do you think? -Insert answer here-
The language of poetry is often visual and pictorial.
the subject of a poem may be an abstract idea, they are typically handled in a
manner that makes that abstract idea seem concrete, specific, and visual.
EX: A poem may not just say the speaker
loves someone. Instead, it may compare the object of their affections to a rose
to give their romantic feelings a physical image.
The visual quality of a poem is called imagery.
This element results mostly from two aspects of poetic
precision of individual word choice
These two opposing forces come together to form the
visual richness associated with strong poetry.
SETTING, WORD ORDER & PLACEMENT
At the surface level, the situation of a poem is the plot.
But it also includes details about the speaker, such as:
whom are they speaking?
there an auditor in the poem?
anyone else present or referred to in the poem?
is this event/communication occurring?
is it significant?
All of these details help to form the setting of a poem. As we learned,
setting is the place + time an event takes place.
poetry, setting can be particularly powerful because it is often symbolic, meaning it helps add a layer
of complexity and meaning to the poem.
“Dover Beach” by Matthew Arnold p. 530
What is the setting? Nighttime by the sea shore
is this setting used? -Insert answer-
What tone does it evoke? -Insert answer-
A poem’s setting can also help create irony. For example, “Soliloquy of the
Spanish Cloister” is set in a monastery. How does this help create irony,
considering the situation the poem is describing? -Insert
Read “Daystar” by Rita Dove and “To a
Daughter Leaving Home” by Linda Pastan (525 & 526) and answer the
is the situation in each?
feelings are conveyed in these poems?
these two poems, word choice is
powerful in conveying the tone and mood.
Focusing particularly on “Daystar,” what
words are used to convey the mother’s weariness? Give three examples.
How words are ordered and put together matters in
poetry, because meaning can often evolve through how words are placed within
the stanza, or how they relate to the words around them.
“Lies” by Martha Collins p. 567
word evolves here? Lie/lay/lies
How does it evolve? Through sound and meaning
note of every use of lie/lay/lies/laid
does the evolution of this word change the poem? Adds ambiguity
A particular word choice can also help convey the plot of the poem.
“My Papa’s Waltz” p. 569
this poem, the word “unfrown” stands out because it isn’t a real word.
this point in the poem, Mom enters and ruins their evening
Thus: odd or
unconventional word choices merit special attention
An example of these are nonsense poems, wherein so many odd word choices—some entirely made
up—obscure the linguistic integrity of the poem, and we need to discern what is
being said based on context, sounds, etc.
“The Jabberwocky” by Lewis Carroll (can be found via
way of writing can force engagement from the reader.
Furthermore: specific words can be given more weight
depending on the syntax of the poem.
“Blandeur” by Kay Ryan p. 575
that the impactful words are at the end of each line
Certain word choices can also be used to establish a
For the following poems, answer the
“This Is Just to Say” and “The Red Wheelbarrow” p 574
would we describe these word choices?
did Williams deal with the beautiful in these poems?
might these poems comment on human nature?
FIGURES OF SPEECH
Continuing from the lesson on word choice, another
important aspect that helps inform the visual quality in a poem is how the language is used. Earlier in
this unit, when discussing “Introduction to Poetry” by Billy Collins, one of
the key components to poetry we determined was how they read. Poems sound funny.
These sophisticated, rhetorical and literary devices
that make poetry so distinct are figures
of speech. They often help us relate to and visualize the content of a
poem, even if it is mostly abstract.
most often, the visualization process starts with the simple naming of an
do you picture when I say dog? -Insert answer here-
here, a poet must decide to provide more
details to describe the dog or provide details of what the dog does not look like to make the image
can be either expanded, or reduced
Read “The Beautiful Changes” and “Kind of
Blue” and answer the questions
“The Beautiful Changes” by Richard Wilbur pg 578
strategy does Wilbur use to make his image precise?
details does he give to make this image specific?
“Kind of Blue” by Lynn Powell pg 579
strategy does Powell use?
details does she take away?
However, describing something is not always able
rattling off facts and descriptors. Another way of describing something is
A comparison without using like or as.
is a rose—what can this mean?
None of these statements are as interesting as the
can make a metaphor more powerful than just visual details?
the audience to imagine the thing through their own experiences and
the audience to reflect on their own values and expectations.
the audience in the process of extracting meaning
intimacy with the poem
the Hospital” by David Ferry
She was the sentence the cancer spoke at last,
It’s blurred grammar finally clarified.
being compared here? A girl to a sentence, cancer to grammar
happened here? A loved one died of cancer
clarified the “blurred grammar”? The certainty of death
is “the sentence”? The death sentence of grammar
Similar to the metaphor is the simile: a comparison using
difference between metaphor and simile is that similes are usually brief
assume we already feel the same way as the narrator about the thing being
“A Red, Red Rose” by Robert Burns pg 584
He compares his love to a rose, then moves on.
is he assuming about us, the audience? -Insert
another way of creating images, though in this case, one thing is being used in
place of something else.
symbolism, all words go beyond themselves and signify more than their basic
sounds and letters.
Often signify actions, ideas, a world in
which things occur, acts have implications, and events have meaning.
EX: Rocks may symbolize solidarity. Or
clouds may symbolize dreams.
symbol’s significance depends upon context.
EX: A star means something different
between different religious groups, and even further something different to a
sailor or an actor.
There are two types of symbols we discussed
symbols: Symbols made for something with no agreed upon cultural significance,
where the symbolic meaning is created by the poem itself.
Read “The Leap” by James Dickey (pg 593) and
answer the questions below:
main action/event is being made into a symbol?
did the leap symbolize?
leap is used two different ways. What are they?
is the first leap different from the second?
does the difference between the two leaps affect the meaning of them to the
is the second, less obvious symbol?
does it symbolize?
symbols: Unlike invented symbols, other objects have built-in significance
because of past usage in literature or tradition. Such things have cultivated
an agreed upon meaning and stand for something before the poet even cites them.
Poets who use these sorts of symbols operate under the assumption the audience
will recognize the traditional meaning of these symbols.
Read the following poems and write a brief
analysis of how the rose is used in each
“Song” by Edmund Waller pg 596
“One Perfect Rose” Dorothy Parker pg 597
“The Sick Rose” William Blake pg 598
In poetry, personification can be especially useful
because of the abstract nature of poetry itself.
For the following poem, answer the
“[Because I could not stop for Death]” pg 585
is death described? What type of character is he?
does this characterization say about the speaker?
An allusion is a reference to something outside of the
text, and usually requires extra research to understand the depth of the
For the following poems, answer the
“Dothead” pg 586
are the allusions in this poem?
do they contribute to the poem’s affect?
“What is the Zoo for What?” pg 587
are the allusions?
do they allusions add?
does the speaker’s mindset seem to be?
External form and structure
Another element of poetry discussed in “Introduction
to Poetry” by Billy Collins is structure. “Poem’s look funny”
While tone, word choice, speaker, situation, setting,
cadence, and figurative language all help form the internal structure of a
poem, the external structure is
to the arrangement on the page, both verbally and visually
to make the poem recognizable at a glance
of lines divided by white space
the divisions can add meaning to the poem and have the physical appearance
match the thoughts and scene changes
stanzas are divided by rhyme scheme and meter
famous type of stanza is the terza rima,
where the rhyming sounds from a stanza are picked up in the next stanza
“Ode to the West Wind” on pg 656
Also uses iambic pentameter
type is the Spenserian stanza which uses three rhyme sounds in nine
“The Eve of St Agenes” pg 657
also have the ballad stanza. These
have one set of rhymes in four lines. These types of stanza can be used across
various other genres of poetry.
“To his Coy Mistress” pg 658
heroic couplet is a type of stanza consisting
of rhyming pairs of lines written in iambic pentameter.
of the more traditional poetic stanza types is blank verse, which is a stanza written with regular meter, usually
iambic pentameter, but no discernable rhyme scheme.
finally, we have free verse, a type
of verse lacking regular rhyme and meter.
Entire subgenres of poems are defined by their form,
most famously, the sonnet.
sonnet is a poem written in fourteen lines. The rhyme scheme differs depending
on the type of sonnet, of which there are six main categories
Terza Rima sonnet
Other popular form-based subgenres are:
nineteen-line poetic form consisting of five tercets (stanzas with three lines)
followed by a quatrain. There are two refrains (repeated lines) and two
repeating rhymes, with the first and third line of the first tercet repeated
alternately until the last stanza, which includes both repeated lines.
Also known as mirrored poetry. A poem that reads the same forward as it does
backward. SEE “MYTH” PG 661
a poem with six stanzas of six lines and a final triplet, all stanzas having
the same six words at the line-ends in six different sequences that follow a
fixed pattern, and with all six words appearing in the closing three-line
Like stanza breaks, other elements such as spacing,
font, punctuation, and line length can be used to create meaning in a poem.
Some poems are meant to be seen, not heard.
See “[l(a]” by E.E. Cummings pg 663
Then, other poems use spacing and punctuation to
convey the speaker’s emotions.
See [Buffalo Bills]
And, occasionally, some poems take on the shape of
their subject. Such instances are called concrete
poetry, or shaped verse.
See “Easter Wings” pg 664
A tool some poet’s use to create complexity and
meaning through line breaks is enjambment,
or the running-over of a sentence or phrase from one poetic line to the next
without end punctuation. When enjambment is used, it’s meant to indicate that
the message, action, etc. of that line goes on forever.
For the following poem, answer the
“Marks” by Linda Pastan pg
lines are enjambed?
is the significance of that enjambment?
is a difference between enjambment and an idea broken between two lines. It
depends on the context of the line within the entire poem.
Please : Open the document .