The Practice of Poetry - Western New England University
The Practice of Poetry The Writing and Reading Program At Western New England University Paul Signac. French, 1863-1935. The Bonaventure Pine. 1893. Definitions Poetry is a kind of representation using rhythm, speech, and melody. Aristotle
Definitions Poetry is an extension and refinement of the minds extreme recognitions, and of languages most unexpected apprehensions. Seamus Heaney Definitions
Poetic meaning is like and yet unlike ordinary meaning, just as poetry is both like and unlike ordinary speech or ordinary writing in prose forms. There are aspects of a poem which we can understand much as we understand a request for a loan or a declaration that it is raining. There are other aspects of a poem which must be approached somewhat differently. Burton Raffel Definitions Poetry is a synthesis of hyacinths and biscuits.
Carl Sandburg Although difficult to define, poetry is a literary genre that binds cultures, indeed, our whole species together. From the earliest days, poetry passed great stories along in an oral tradition with the aid of rhythm, rhyme, and figurative language: Athena cast a grey glance at her friend and said: Son of Larts and the gods of old,
Odysseus, master of land ways and sea ways, command yourself. Call off this battle now or Zeus who views the wide world may be angry. The Odyssey Getting the Beat Rhythm has to do with cadence and beat. Like music, poetry is suffused with various rhythms:
Whan that April with his showres soote Chaucer Out of the cradle endlessly rocking, Out of the mocking-birds throat, the musical shuttle Whitman Keeping Count Meter, on the other hand, is a count of stressed and unstressed syllables in a line of poetry. When my love swears that she is made of
truth / Shakespeare The underscored words in the line above are the stressed syllables. Keeping Count In poetry, the relationships between stressed and unstressed syllables are expressed in many different ways:
Iamb (, /) withDRAW Trochee (/, ) WHEther Anapest (, , /) reproDUCE Sister Sounds Rhyme is often a favorite feature of poetry, and it comes in two basic flavors.
Direct rhyme presents two words that sound very similar: fleece / cease Indirect rhyme underscores either similar internal vowel sounds or it stresses consonant sounds:
Time / Prior Gate / Greet Blank Verse Of course, not all poems rhyme. Blank verse is a very popular, unrhymed poetic form which uses an iambic ( /) rhythm in lines with five stressed feet (pentameter). The buzz saw snarled and rattled in the yard And made dust and dropped stove-length sticks of wood.
Robert Frost Shakespeares Sonnets First Lines Here are some examples of iambic pentameter: When in disgrace with fortune and mens eyes Shall I compare thee to a summers day? My mistresss eyes are nothing like the sun Key Terms Pertaining to Poetry
Speaker dont equate the speaker of the poem with the poet. Often the first person narrator is a character or a persona that the poet has created. Diction carefully chosen words to convey precise meaning. Key Terms Pertaining to Poetry
Personification attributing human characteristics to animals, objects, and ideas. Hyperbole an intentional exaggeration used with humorous or ironic results. Understatement treats a serious issue as if it were of little importance. Key Terms Pertaining to Poetry
Allusion a reference to a person, place, or event meant to enhance the readers understanding or experience of the poem. Imagery impressions created by strong sensory data. Paradox a seemingly absurd or selfcontradictory statement that expresses a possible truth. Key Terms Pertaining to Poetry
Alliteration the repetition of initial consonants Deaths second self , that seals up all the rest Assonance the repetition of vowel sounds My cycle-clips in awkward reverence Onomatopoeia the sound of a word imitating meaning and sense Bees go buzz and flies go splat
Figurative Language Figurative language defines one thing in terms of another. Similes make comparisons: You are as quiet as a mouse. Billy looks like a gladiator in those clothes.
Metaphors are stronger, more concentrated comparisons: Life is a tale / Told by an idiot. How to Read a Poem Attempt to classify the poem: Is it a narrative poem? Does it tell a story? Is it a lyric poem? Does it primarily
convey emotions, mood, or a state of mind? How to Read a Poem Factual or Non-factual Meaning? Literal meaning refers to lines, stanzas, or poems that can be understood straightforwardly and then taken at face
value. Non-literal meaning refers to figurative or metaphorical language used to convey a new reality or emphasize an idea, image, or symbol. Poetry Readers Axiom #1 Take your time reading! Although some poems may seem short and quite straightforward, most poetry requires a
thoughtful, deliberate reading style. Plan to read each poem several times. Poetry Readers Axiom #2 Read Aloud! Poetry is part of an oral tradition. Reading aloud brings out the sound and meaning intended by the poet.
It often takes two or three tries to achieve a smooth reading. If the poem uses punctuation, let it guide your reading impulse, and remember that pauses can be critical to the overall affect. Poetry Readers Axiom #3 Read closely!
Define unfamiliar words. Think about connections between ideas, images, and figures of speech. Define the speaker and tone. Examine word choice. Identify predominate imagery. Look for an identifiable theme. Poetry Readers Axiom #4
Paraphrase the poem. Use your own words to briefly restate the action or intended meaning of key lines, stanzas and / or the whole poem. Paraphrasing can help you understand the structure and meaning of poetry, and it can help you remember significant details of a poem when you are surveying many different poems by a variety of poets.
Like a great piece of music, a poem improves with each encounter. Enjoy every experience as you would a concert or play, and remember, poetry is meant to
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