Literary Terms and Activities for Poetry

IB Literary Terms:
Interpretative Levels
 Perspective: a particular way of regarding a topic
 Literal: interpreting text based on exact wording; taking the
words at face value and looking no further for deeper
meanings; not speculating about intention
 Symbolic: interpreting an object, character, figure, or color
in a text to represent an abstract idea or concept
 Allegorical: interpreting text with the assumption that the
author intended something different than what is literally
expressed; interpreting text as an extended metaphor
 Anagogic: interpreting text mystically or spiritually;
detecting allusions to heaven and/or the afterlife
Interpretative Levels Applied to:
“The Asparagus”
 Literal: The poem is about asparagus being harvested and
cooked: “She can smell him steaming, his crowns/ Already
 Symbolic: The “great beasts” represent unpleasant trials
brought upon the speaker by a woman: “She sent packs of great
beasts to pass/ Over him, trailing belly-fur and dust,/ Bending
their nostrils to his frail spear”
 Allegorical: The speaker is comparing himself to an asparagus
through an extended metaphor. A woman is testing the speaker
almost to the breaking point: “This was to toughen him…Now
he is threatening to wither terribly,/ And slip from the water
 Anagogic: Soon the speaker will disintegrate and all that will
remain of him is his spirit: “billow through the kitchen like
Applying Interpretative Levels
 Choose your favorite lines/sentences you wrote for the
Word Gathering steps.
 Combine the lines/sentences into a poem of at least 12
 Reorder lines/sentences as necessary.
 Add connecting words, phrases, and lines/sentences.
 Divide different ideas into stanzas.
 When you’re done writing your poem, trade poems with a
 On a separate sheet, write your own interpretation along
with evidence from the poem for each interpretative level:
literal, symbolic, allegorical, and anagogic.
Poetry Techniques
 Poetry is a literary form characterized by a strong
sense of rhythm and meter and an emphasis on the
interaction between sound and sense.
 Form: organization/structure
 Rhythm: pattern of sound created by the
varying length and emphasis given to different
 Type: fixed forms that follow certain rules
Poetry Techniques: Form
 Caesura: pause between a basic rhythmic unit (foot) and the next
rhythmic unit.
 End stopped line: line is ended with a comma, period, semicolon, or
other punctuation mark
 Enjambment: sentence or clause runs onto next line without a break
 Example: “Ode to a Nightingale” by John Keats
Forlorn! the very word is like a bell
To toll me back from thee to my sole self!
Adieu! the fancy cannot cheat so well
As she is famed to do, deceiving elf.
Adieu! adieu! thy plaintive anthem fades
Past the near meadows, over the still stream,
Up the hill-side; and now 'tis buried deep
In the next valley-glades:
Was it a vision, or a waking dream?
Fled is that music:—do I wake or sleep?
Poetry Techniques: Form (cont.)
 Incremental repetition: line is repeated in a different
context or with minor changes
 Example: “Lord Randal”
“O where ha’ you been, Lord Randal, my son?
And where ha’ you been, my handsome young man?”
“I ha’ been at the greenwood; mother, mak my bed soon,
For I’m wearied wi’ huntin’, and fain wad lie down.”
“And wha met ye there, Lord Randal, my son?
And wha met you there, my handsome young man?”
O I met wi’ my true-love; mother, mak my bed soon,
For I’m wearied wi’ huntin’, and fain wad lie down.”
Poetry Techniques: Form (cont.)
 Stanza: group of lines, equivalent to a paragraph in prose
 Couplet: two successive rhymed lines of equal length
Heroic couplet: pair of rhyming lines in iambic pentameter (aa
rhyme scheme); last two lines in Shakespearean sonnet
 Quatrain: four-line stanza
 Heroic quatrain: four lines in iambic pentameter (abab rhyme
 Example: “Sonnet 29” by William Shakespeare
1) When, in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries
And look upon myself and curse my fate,
2) Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possess'd,
Desiring this man's art and that man's scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
3) Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven's gate;
For thy sweet love remember'd such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.
 You will annotate copies of poems. Annotation
is the process of writing critical, analytical, and
explanatory notes on a copy of a work being
studied. To annotate, you may include
underlining, highlighting, symbols, words,
phrases, and sentences within the text. The
purpose of annotating poems is to practice
close reading and analysis for the Oral
Commentary and Papers 1 and 2.
Close Reading:
 Linguistic reading is largely descriptive. We are noting
what is in the text and naming its parts for possible use
in the next stage of reading.
 Semantic reading is cognitive. That is, we need to
understand what the words are telling us – both at a
surface and maybe at an implicit level.
 Structural reading is analytic. We must assess,
examine, sift, and judge a large number of items from
within the text in their relationships to each other.
 Cultural reading is interpretive. We offer judgments
on the work in its general relationship to a large body
of cultural material outside it.
Literary Elements Found in
“Advertisement for the Waldorf-Astoria”
 Parody= satirical imitation
 Satire= use of irony, sarcasm, ridicule, etc. to expose
human shortcomings; constructive social criticism
 Juxtaposition= placing two items side by side to show
 Verbal irony= a figure of speech in which what is said
is the opposite of what is meant
 Allusion= brief reference to a person, place, or event
or to another literary work or passage
Personal Summary for Future Reference:
 Based on your annotations for “Advertisement for
the Waldorf-Astoria,” write a summary for
yourself of what the poem is about and what the
most important literary elements are in the poem.
The purpose of this is to have a quick reference for
you to study from in preparing for the oral
 If you did not complete all of the Interpretative
Levels for a partner’s poem, write an interpretation
of “Advertisement for the Waldorf-Astoria” for
each level: literary, symbolic, allegorical, anagogic.
Description related to the senses
Auditory: sound
Gustatory : taste
Olfactory: smell
Tactile: touch
Visual: sight
Groups for Annotating
“Cultural Exchange”:
Relevant Research & Purpose in Poem
Imagery throughout the poem
Sound: alliteration, rhythm, and rhyme throughout the poem
Recordings of “German lieder,” “Hesitation Blues,” “Dixie,” and
“When the Saints Go Marching In”
4. Leontyne Price
5. People named in second and third stanzas on p. 478
6. People named in last stanza on p. 478 and first stanza on p. 479
7. Locations in first and second stanzas on p. 479
8. Indented names in last stanza on p. 479
9. Allusions in first stanza on p. 480
10. People named in last stanza on p. 480
11. “Mammy’s” named in last stanza on p. 481 (also define
“archetype” and “caricature”)

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