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The Elements of Poetry


These poems express vivid imagination as well as emotion. ... ONOMATOPOEIA. The use of words that sound like the things they name. ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: The Elements of Poetry

The Elements of Poetry
  • English 102

  • William Wordsworth, the great Romantic poet,
    defined poetry as
  • "the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings,
    recollected in tranquility."

Poetry is a piece of literature written in meter,
using imagery and figures of speech to appeal to
or gain the interest of the readers emotions and
Poetry is the most condensed and concentrated
form of literature, saying most in the fewest
number of words. Saying more, and saying it
The Major Forms of Poetry Are
  • the epic
  • the lyric
  • the ballad

  • An extended narrative poem recounting actions,
    travels, adventures, and heroic episodes and
    written in a high style.

Characteristics of the Classical Epic
  • The main character or protagonist is heroically
    larger than life, often the source and subject of
    legend or a national hero.
  • The deeds of the hero are presented without
    favoritism, revealing his failings as well as his
  • The action, often in battle, reveals the
    more-than-human strength of the heroes as they
    engage in acts of heroism and courage.

  • The setting covers several nations, the whole
    world, or even the universe.
  • The episodes, even though they may be fictional,
    provide an explanation for some of the
    circumstances or events in the history of a
    nation or people.
  • The gods and lesser divinities play an active
    role in the outcome of actions.
  • All of the various adventures form an organic
    whole, where each event relates in some way to
    the central theme.

Examples of Epics
  • Homer, Iliad
  • Homer, Odyssey
  • Virgil, Aeneid
  • Tasso, Jerusalem Delivered
  • Milton, Paradise Lost

  • A narrative folk song, the ballad is traced back
    to the Middle Ages. Ballads were usually created
    by common people and passed orally due to the
    illiteracy of the time. Subjects for ballads
    include killings, feuds, important historical
    events, and rebellion. For example, in the
    international ballad Lord Randall, the young
    man is poisoned by his sweetheart, and in
    Edward, the son commits patricide.

  • A common stylistic element of the ballad is
  • Lord Randall illustrates this well with the
    phrase at the end of each verse mother, make
    my bed soon, for Im sick at the heart and I fain
    wad lie down.
  • The ballad occurs in very early literature in
    nearly every nation. Thus, ballads can help us
    understand a given culture by showing us what
    values or norms that culture deemed important.

  • A lyric is a song-like poem written mainly to
    express the feelings of emotions or thought from
    a particular person. These poems are generally
    short, averaging twelve to thirty lines, and
    rarely go beyond sixty lines. These poems express
    vivid imagination as well as emotion. Because of
    this, as well as a steady rhythm, they were often
    used in song. In fact, most people still see a
    "lyric" as anything that is sung along to a
    musical instrument.

  • The lyric may have begun in Ancient Egypt around
    2600 BC in the form of hymns generated out of
    religious ceremonies.
  • The importance of understanding the lyric can
    best be shown through its remarkable ability to
    express with such imagination the innermost
    emotions of the soul.

How Should a Poem Be Read????
  • To read a poem, one must concentrate on its words
    and the way they connect with one another.
  • Some poems use the same elements as fiction
    however, they are secondary to the images,
    metaphors, tones of voice, and allusions
    (suggestions, references).

Different Ways of Reading Poetry
  • Pure explanation paraphrasing the poem, turning
    its lines into prose.
  • b. Explication tries to account for the whole
    poem by attending to its sounds, suggestions of
    meaning, and shapeliness.

  • No explication is equal to the poem itself, but
    it does come close to pointing out what affects
    us in the poem.

Begin with the title it sometimes provides a
clue or a description.
  • Then, read the words. Remember, words have
    denotations (dictionary definitions) and
    connotations (the word, its family, origins,
    associations, etc.). Both serve the writer
    within a poem however, in the context of a poem,
    not every meaning is active.

The Elements of Poetry
Figures of Speech (Comparisons)
  • Phrases or words that compare one thing to
    another unlike thing.
  • Figures of speech can enhance style and make
    ideas distinct.
  • Figurative language does not mean exactly what it
    says, but instead forces the reader to make an
    imaginative leap in order to comprehend an
    author's point. It usually involves a comparison
    between two things that may not, at first, seem
    to relate to one another.

Different Types of Comparisons/Figures of Speech
  • Simile
  • Metaphor
  • Personification
  • Hyperbole
  • Metonymy
  • Synecdoche
  • Apostrophe

A Simile
  • makes a comparison between two unlike things
    using an explicit word such as as, like,
    resembles, or than .
  • In a simile, for example, an author may compare a
    person to an animal "He ran like a hare down the
  • This is the figurative way to describe the man
    running, and "He ran very quickly down the
    street" is the literal way to describe him.

The spiders web hung like delicate lace across
the open barn door.
  • states one thing is something else but,
    literally, it is not. It does not use the words
    as, like, resembles, or than.
  • Metaphoric language is used in order to realize a
    new and different meaning. Metaphors are great
    contributors to poetry because the reader
    understands a likeness between two essentially
    different things.

A metaphor may be found in a simple comparison or
largely as the image of an entire poem
  • Life is a candle, too soon blown out.
  • My Life had stood a Loaded Gun - / In corners
    till a Day / The Owner passed identified - /
    And carried me away.
  • Of course, the narrator is not really a gun. 
    The metaphor carries with it all the qualities of
    a Loaded Gun. The speaker in the poem is making
    a series of comparisons between themselves and
    the qualities of a gun.

  • Refers to a special kind of metaphor in which
    nonhuman things or qualities are described as if
    they were human.
  • In other words animals, ideas or inorganic
    objects are given human characteristics.

The wind stood up and gave a shout. He whistled
on his two fingers.
  • Of course the wind did not actually "stand up,"
    but this image of the wind creates a vivid
    picture of the wind's wild actions.
  • The wind is endowed with human characteristics
    making the poem more interesting and achieving a
    much more vivid image of the way wind whips
    around a room.

  • is an extravagant exaggeration. From the Greek
    for "overcasting," hyperbole is a figure of
    speech that is a grossly exaggerated description
    or statement. In literature, such exaggeration is
    used for emphasis or vivid descriptions.
  • Hyperbole is even a part of our day-to-day
    speech Youve grown like a bean sprout or Im
    older than the hills. Hyperbole is used to
    increase the effect of a description, whether it
    is metaphoric or comic.

  • In poetry, hyperbole can emphasize or dramatize a
    persons opinions or emotions. Poets use
    hyperbole to describe intense emotions and mental

  • substitutes one term with another that is being
    associated with the that term.
  • For example, in the book of Genesis 319, it
    refers to Adam by saying that by the sweat of
    your brow, you will eat your food. Sweat
    represents the hard labor that Adam will have to
    endure to produce the food that will sustain his
    life. The sweat on his brow is a vivid picture of
    how hard he is working to attain a goal.

In other words, metonymy, refers to a thing,
person, or place by the name of something closely
associated with it.
  • For example
  • The hired gun made friends as he moved from town
    to town.

  • Substitutes a part of a person, place, or thing
    for the whole person, place, or thing.
  • For instance
  • The crowned heads of Europe met at the Swiss

  • consists in addressing someone absent or
    something nonhuman as if it were alive and
    present and could reply to what is being said
  • O MenopauseWhen will you come forth and bless
    me?Thirty years of monthly visits have left me
    tired.I do not wish for more of a brood than I
    already have.No more mouths to feed, please.

(No Transcript)
  • Language that appeals to the 5 senses!

The ability to uses imagery stems from being a
good observer of the world.
  • A poet wants the reader to visualize, smell,
    taste, hear, and relate to the touch/feel of

  • The use of words that sound like the things they
    name. They appeal to the sense of sound and can
    invoke clear, strong images
  • cows moo, bees buzz, and lions roar.

  • The poems tone reveals the authors attitude
    toward a subject (Irony, sarcasm). Tone is easy
    to miss or misinterpret.
  • For example, the sentence, Thats fine can have
    different meanings depending on the context in
    which it is used. It may be said
    matter-of-factly, sarcastically, or with sympathy.

  • The use of symbols (one set of particulars
    standing in for another set of relationships).

There are Different Kinds of Symbols
  • images or phrases that have acquired meaning over
    centuries of association the cross of Christ.

Literary Symbols
  • A series of words that create an image, event, or
    character that is complex.
  • Cain and Able The two brothers stood for good
    and evil, humility and pride. Cain pulled Able to
    the fields and killed him. In this is a hidden
    symbol. It is showing that Cain stands for the
    bad and Able stands for the good

Natural Symbols
  • From nature night is used as a symbol of death
    and so is autumn.

Another Element of Poetry is
  • Repetition

  • Often a poet will use repetition for emphasis or
    to add rhythm and flow to words.

There are Different Types of Repetition.
  • Repetition of vowel sounds
  • beside the white
  • glazed with rain

  • Repetition of two or more words that have the
    same initial consonant sound
  • The sun rises from the sea.

Another example of AlliterationSam picked sea
shells by the sea shore.
Rhythm and Rhyme
  • The word rhythm is the pulse or beat felt in a
    line of poetry. It is the regular
    arrangement/pattern of accents or stresses on the
    syllables of words in a poem.

  • A stress or an accent is the emphasis put on a

  • that which is pronounced as a unit. A word may
    be made up of only one syllable (win, hit) or
    parts of words may be pronounced as a unit.
    These parts usually are made up of a vowel or a
    vowel with one or more consonants
    (dis-ap-prov-al, can-di-date).

When a word has more than one syllable, one of
the syllables is pronounced louder than others.
This is called the accented syllable. It is
marked with an accent mark.
  • The same word can be accented in different ways
    depending on how it is used
  • Con? tent (noun)
  • Con tent? (adjective)
  • Pro? test (noun)
  • Pro test? (verb)

  • The patterns of accents or stresses in poetry are
    measured by meter. The word meter comes from a
    word meaning measure.

  • The basic unit of meter in poetry. It is a group
    of syllables, one of which is usually stressed
    one accented syllable one or two unaccented

There are five different kinds of metrical feet
1. The iambic meter/iambic foot
  • 2. The trochaic meter/trochee foot
  • 3. The anapestic meter / the anapest foot
  • 4. The dactylic meter / the dactyl foot
  • 5. The spondaic meter / spondee foot

The Iambic meter
  • has one unaccented syllable followed by one
    accented one
  • The sun

Trochaic Meter
  • has one accented syllable followed by an
    unaccented one
  • Lon don, fal ling

The iambic and the trochaic are called duple
meters (double).
Anapestic Meter
  • Two unstressed syllables followed by one
    unaccented syllable
  • in ter vene, in a hut

Dactylic Meter
  • One stressed syllable followed by two
    unstressed syllables
  • en ter prise
  • co lor of.

The anapestic and the dactylic are called triple
Spondaic Meter
  • two stressed syllables, usually used for effect
    or emphasis
  • true blue.

  • A poet can choose between writing in meter or in
    free verse.
  • Free Verse poetry that doesnt have a regular
    meter or rhyme scheme. It tries to capture the
    natural rhythm of ordinary speech.

  • To indicate the metrical pattern of a poem by
    marking the stressed and unstressed syllables is
  • to scan.

RHYME Rhyme gives poems flow and rhythm,
helping the lyricist tell a story and convey a
Rhyme is defined as
  • the matching of final vowel and consonant sounds
    in two or more words.

  • There are Several Types of Rhyme

End Rhyme
  • Rhymes at the end of a poetic line
  • I simply dont know what to do
  • In a world that is without you

Internal Rhyme
  • Rhyming words within a line of poetry with an end
    of the line sound
  • sister, my sister, O fleet sweet swallow
  • The moon never beams without bringing me dreams.

Approximate Rhyme
  • words that are similar but do not rhyme exactly
  • Though we both feel the sting
  • One will lose, and the other win

Perfect Rhyme
  • words that have the same number of syllables and
    stresses while having the same vowel and
    consonant sounds
  • And what wul ye doe wi your towirs and your ha
    That were sae fair to see, O? Ile let thame
    stand tul they doun fa

  • Rhyme scheme (rime skeem)
  • the pattern of rhyme used in a poem it is
    indicated by matching lowercase letters to show
    which lines rhyme.

  • Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? a
  • Thou art more lovely and more temperate. b
  • Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May. a
  • And summer's lease hath all too short a date. b

  • The letter "a" notes the first line, and all
    other lines rhyming with the first line. The
    first line that does not rhyme with the first, or
    "a" line, and all others that rhyme with this
    line, is noted by the letter "b", and so on.

  • incorporates diction (the poets choice of
    words), figurative language, imagery, symbolism,
    and sentence length.

  • the time, place, physical details, and
    circumstances in which a situation occurs
  • The instance/circumstances that caused the poet
    to compose the poem

  • common thread or repeated idea that is
    incorporated throughout poem. A theme is a
    thought or idea the author presents to the reader
    that may be deep, difficult to understand, or
    even moralistic.

  • The ability to recognize a theme is important
    because it allows the reader to comprehend part
    of the authors purpose in writing the poem.

  • the persona,the narrator, or the storyteller of a
    poem created by the author It may or may not be
    the poet.

  • references to a person, place, or thing in
    history or another work of literature. Allusions
    are often indirect or brief references to
    well-known characters or events.

Poetry lines can be divided into
  • Stanzas

A stanza is a group within a poem which may have
two or many lines.
  • 2 lines couplet
  • 3 lines tercet
  • 4 lines quatrain
  • 5 lines quintet
  • 6 lines sestet
  • 7 lines septet
  • 8 lines - octave

An Example of a Couplet
  • So long as men can breathe or eyes can
  • So long as lives this, and this gives life
    to thee.

Poetry is Like No Other Genre
It is expressive, imaginative, creative it is
Poetry alone can encapsulate the magic of nature
a summer's breeze, the blooming of a flower the
magic of being human an intense emotional
moment etc.
Most believe poetry is boring
  • When you choose your poetry assignments, I want
    you to celebrate the opportunity of glimpsing
    someone elses creative energy at work. The
    poets mind is a great place to visit a while! I
    want you to look like this

Robert Frost (1874 1963)
  • Robert Lee Frost was born in San Francisco on
    March 26, 1874 and died in Boston on January 29,
    1963. He was one of America's leading
    20th-century poets and a four-time winner of the
    Pulitzer Prize.

  • An essentially pastoral (countrified) poet,
    Frosts verse forms are traditional - he often
    said, in a dig at arch rival Carl Sandberg, that
    he would as soon play tennis without a net as
    write free verse - he was a pioneer in the
    interplay of rhythm and meter and in the poetic
    use of the vocabulary and inflections of everyday
    speech. His poetry is thus both traditional and
    experimental, regional and universal.

Fire Ice
  • Some say the world will end in fire,
  • Some say in ice.
  • From what I've tasted of desire
  • I hold with those who favour fire.
  • But if it had to perish twice,
  • I think I know enough of hate
  • To say that for destruction ice
  • Is also great
  • And would suffice.

Begin with the Title Fire Ice
  • The alternatives in the title represent passion
    and hatred. Fire has traditionally been a symbol
    for passion, ardor, excitement, fervor, etc.
  • Ice has traditionally been a symbol for
    cold-heartedness, coolness, frigidity, hatred,
    extreme dislike.

  • From the very beginning, the reader is presented
    with polar opposites! Thus, we may think the
    poem will be about contradiction, disagreement,
    negation, etc..

  • It becomes apparent that the poem is deceptively
    simple on the surface.
  • It opens with words foretelling global doom
  • Some say the world will end in fire,
  • Some say in ice.
  • Slowly, the words come to indicate personal

  • From what I've tasted of desire
  • I hold with those who favour fire.
  • Fire and ice become symbolic of great human
    emotions--the essence of life. Paradoxically,
    these forces of destruction are emblems of life.

  • But if it had to perish twice,
  • I think I know enough of hate
  • To say that for destruction ice
  • Is also great
  • And would suffice.
  • Frost associates "fire" with "desire." Desire is
    a longing or a wish. This poem may be viewed as a
    death-wish. The implication is that destruction
    is inevitable but the speaker doesn't care. He
    does not make an issue of whether there should be
    destruction. It does not matter. What does matter
    is which form of destruction would be preferred.

  • He is infatuated with the degree of emotion
    involved. For both extremes, he relies on his own
    life's experience. Fiery desire (which he
    "favors") connotes passionate love--in opposition
    to cold hatred. However, if he would "perish
    twice," ice would also suffice for one way to go.
    Ice is associated with hatred, another "great"
    emotion. (He says "also great," meaning fire is
    at least as "great" as ice.) With or without
    destruction, what the persona really values are
    the great emotions of living. To go out with both
    extremes of human feeling is preferred even over
    going out twice with burning love.

  • Experiencing
  • the heights and depths of human emotion is the
    point--even if it kills him.

One cannot make a choice really between fire and
ice they are, after all, two sides of the same
  • Desire and hatred represent an endlessly
    regenerative cycle.
  • Fire is directly equated with desire, the kind
    that kindles antagonism and conflict. Ice is
    equated with hate. Fire and ice are born in the
    dark reaches of the inner soul, in the
    smoldering, ice-sheathed human heart.

The terror in the poem is so casually
understated. The understatement is most evident
in the fifth and last lines of the poem. "But if
it had to perish twice," Frost says, as if the
incineration of the world were little more than a
passing sickness. "And would suffice," he
concludes in a typically unemphatic last line.
  • The use of first-person pronouns in lines 3, 4,
    and 6 contributes to the understatement,
    suggesting that the poem is only an expression of
    lightly held personal opinion. This is a
    deceptive strategy of understatement since the
    poem is truly about the chronic malfunction of
    the human heart.
  • Fire and Ice" hints at the destructive powers of
    the heat of love or passion and the cold of hate.
    The poem presents a much more profound
    distinction between the two extremes of love and
    hate Frost condemns hatred as far worse than