Elements of Poetry

Here are some elements of Poetry that we will utilizing in class.  Elements will be broken down as they are written in The Seagull Reader: Poems.  

Imagery: Imagery is very important to poetry.  Imagery in poetry has the same importance as color in painting.  Imagery is what gives your writing life! Imagery in poetry can be a smell, sound, sight, touch, or even a taste.

Here is a poem by W.B Yeats that can be found in The Seagull Reader: Poems.  The poem is an example of how imagery can be used in a poem.

Down by the salley gardens my love and I did meet;
She passed the salley gardens with little snow-white feet.
She bid me take love easy, as the leaves grow on the tree;
But I, being young and foolish, with her would not agree

In a field by the river my love and I did stand,
And on my leaning shoulder she laid her snow-white hand.
She bid me take life easy, as the grass grows on the weirs;
But I was young and foolish, and now am full of tears.

Questions to think about…
What images do you see in the poem?
Do you know what the woman may look like? Are there any physical features that the poem talks about?
What does her hand look like?
What kind of feet does she have?

Metaphor: A Metaphor is a comparison.  For Example, The clouds sailed through the sky is a metaphor: Clouds do not literally sail through the sky.  That expression is a figure of speech that compares the way a cloud moves through the sky and the way a ship sails in water.    To help understand metaphors think about the I AM POEMS we wrote in class.  A few of the lines went something like this: I am from love and peace, I am from tacos and burgers, I am from watching TV and Watching Movies.  You are not literally from a taco!! It’s just a form of expression.  When you first read the cloud metaphor what did you see?

Here is a challenging example of a Metaphor from T. S Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” (just to give you a heads up,I took out the word Etherized and substituted the meaning of the word to help make understanding the piece easier. Etherized mean  loss of bodily sensation)

Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient with no body sensation upon a table 

Questions to ask yourself:
What images do you see?
How are they being compared?
How can an evening be like a surgery patient?

Simile: In the poem above you may have noticed the word like.  When like or as is used the comparison is called a simile.  For example, Your eyes are like the sun or Your hands are like sand paper. 

The Speaker: Who is the speaker? Well it depends.  There is one very important rule we must follow that will ensure our classroom is a safe place for us poets.  Here is the rule…. You can never assume that the speaker of the poem is who the poem is about.  There will be times when we will know exactly who the speaker is but we want to leave room for people who want to remain anonymous, anonymous.  Think about how wrong you would be in assuming the poem written on top of my photo is about me! (Again, that poem belongs to the great Pablo Neruda)

Tone: The tone in a poem is the same as tone in speech.  By this time your lives you can tell when someone is speaking to you with an angry voice, sad voice, excited voice.   Poetry works the same way.  The hard thing is that there are no facial cues or in some cases oral cues to what the tone of a poem is.   Here is an example that can be found in The Seagull reader: Poems

                    Example 1: how are you doing”
                                             “I’m doing all right, I guess.”

Compare example 1 with example 2

Example 2:  “How are you doing?” he asked lightly.
I’m doing all right,” She said slowly, with a resigned look on her face.  “I guess”

Isn’t it easier to read the sarcastic tone in Example 2?

One response

  1. Hi Mr. Anthony I was wandering, do we write down the answer on the homework?

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