What is Poetry?

English I
Unit 9.7
What is Poetry?
• Poetry has been described as “the best words in their best order.”
~ Samuel Taylor Coleridge
• “Poetry is like making a joke. If you get one word wrong at the end
of a joke, you’ve lost the whole thing.”
~ W.S. Merwin
• “Poetry is truth in its Sunday clothes.”
~ Joseph Roux
• “Poetry is thoughts that breathe, and words that burn.”
~ Thomas Gray
How is Poetry Organized?
Poetry is as much about form
as it is about language and sound.
• Form – refers to a poem’s structure, or the way the
words are arranged on the page.
• Lines – all poems are made of a series of lines.
• Stanzas – lines are grouped into stanzas, like
sentences are in a paragraph.
• Each stanza plays an important part in
communicating the overall message of a poem.
How do Poems Rhyme?
Like music, language has a rhythm. In poetry, the pattern
of stressed and unstressed syllables in each line is what
creates the rhythm.
• Rhyme – enhances the musical quality of poetry.
• End Rhyme – when the rhyme occurs at the ends of
• Internal Rhyme – when the rhyme occurs within the
same line
Examples of Internal Rhyme:
• “The Witch” by Jack Prelutsky:
She comes by night, in fearsome flight,
In garments black as pitch,
The queen of doom upon her broom,
The wild and wicked witch,
• “The Raven” by Edgar Allen Poe:
Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
• “The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
The fair breeze blew, the white foam flew,
The furrow followed free;
We were the first that ever burst
Into that silent sea.
Examples of End Rhyme:
• “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost:
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
• “The Sower” by Victor Hugo:
Peaceful and cool, the twilight grey
Draws a dim curtain o’er the day,
While in my cottage-porch I lurk
And watch the last lone hour of work.
Does all poetry have to rhyme? -- NO.
• Free Verse Poetry – does NOT follow the guidelines
of regular pattern, rhythm, or rhyme.
• “Luxury” by Nikki Giovanni:
i suppose living
in a materialistic society
to some would be having
more than what you need
Poetic Sound Devices:
“There are only three things . . . that a poem must reach: the eye, the
ear, and the heart or the mind. It is the most important of all to reach
the heart of the reader. And the surest way to reach the heart is
through the ear.” ~ Robert Frost
• Sound Devices are used to:
communicate meaning
add emphasis
aid memory
create a musical quality and pattern
• Sound Devices Include:
Poetic Sound Devices: REPETITION
• Repetition – repeating a sound, word, phrase, or line
for emphasis or unity
• “We Never Change” by Chris Martin:
I wanna live life, never be cruel,
I wanna live life, be good to you.
I wanna fly, never come down,
And live my life,
And have friends around.
• “Everything is Everything” by Lauryn Hill:
Everything is everything
What is meant to be, will be
After winter, must come spring
Change, it comes eventually
Poetic Sound Devices: ALLITERATION
• Alliteration – is when several words very near each
other begin with the same consonant sound
• “Nothing Gold Can Stay” by Robert Frost:
Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
• Or you may remember:
Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.
A peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked.
If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers
How many pickled peppers did Peter Piper pick?
Poetic Sound Devices: Assonance & Consonance
• Assonance – is the repetition of VOWEL sounds in
words that don’t end with the same consonant.
• “Annabel Lee” by Edgar Allen Poe:
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling, my darling, my life and my bride.
• “I made my way to the lake.”
• Consonance – is the repetition of CONSONANT
sounds in the middle or at the ends of words.
I don’t like English class,
I like the people in here though,
I go with the flow; so Ms. Finch
Won’t throw me out for being a grinch.
Why is Diction So Important?
• Diction – means the choice of words a poet uses
• Diction is especially important to poetry.
• Poetry is known for its concise and exact use of language
• “Oranges” by Gary Soto
The first time I walked
With a girl, I was twelve,
Cold, and weighted down
With two oranges in my jacket.
December. Frost cracking
Beneath my steps, my breath
Before me, then gone,
As I walked toward
Her house,
How Important is Imagery to a Poem?
• Imagery is the MOST important element of any poem.
• Imagery is the words and phrases that appeal to one or
more of the five senses.
Her house, the one whose
Porch light burned yellow
Night and day, in any weather.
A dog barked at me, until
She came out pulling
At her gloves, face bright
With rouge. I smiled,
Touched her shoulder, and led
Her down the street,
Figurative Language
• Figurative language is
• language that communicates meanings beyond the literal
meanings of words
• words are often used to:
• symbolize or emphasize ideas
• create effects
• evoke emotions
• Some common types of figurative language are:
• Simile
• Metaphor
• Personification
• Hyperbole
• Onomatopoeia
Figurative Language: Simile
•A simile compares two unlike things using the words “like” or
• The witches eyes were as black as coal.
• During the storm, the wind tore through branches
like a power saw.
• My life is like an open book.
• Life is like a box of chocolates.
• When I walked out of school on the last day, I felt
free as a bird.
Figurative Language: Metaphor
• A metaphor makes a comparison by saying that
one thing IS another different thing.
• A metaphor:
• does not use “like” or “as”
• allows us to use fewer words
• forces the reader to find the similarity
• The simplest form of a simile is:
• “The [first thing] is a [second thing].”
• Ex: “Her house is a prison.”
Metaphor Examples:
• Her eyes were sparkly beacons of bright light,
expressing her hope for their futures.
• The tree trunks were matchsticks as they snapped in
the hurricane-force winds.
• Life is a journey.
• The assignment was a breeze.
Figurative Language: Personification
• Personification gives human qualities to an object,
animal, or idea.
• Personification makes an object or idea do something
that usually is only done by people.
• The
• The
• Any
• The
• The
flames of the fire danced in the wind.
brown grass was begging for water.
trust I had for him walked right out the door.
angry storm brought heavy rain and lightning.
party died as soon as she left.
Who is the Speaker?
• The speaker is the voice that describes the character
and/or the action in the poem.
• In a story we say “the narrator”; in poetry, we say
“the speaker.”

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