What Are Elements of Poetry?
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Forms of Poetry
Figurative Language
Your Turn
A poet is like a sculptor.
A sculptor uses tools
to shape wood, stone,
or metal.
A poet uses words to
shape a poem.
Read this poem aloud. How do the lengths of the
lines influence the sound of the poem?
The short
lines give
to words
like worm
and stone.
Stay beautiful
but dont stay down underground too long
Dont turn into a mole
or a worm
or a root
or a stone
from “For Poets”
by Al Young
Short lines may also cue readers to speed up.
To help shape their writing, poets ask:
1. How long should the lines be?
2. Should I group the lines
into stanzas?
3. Should I follow established forms or
experiment with new forms?
The poet’s purpose is to give the words a pleasing
shape on the page and to help convey meaning.
Quick Check
How does the shape of this experimental poem help
you understand its meaning?
My Favorite Pencil
One end
wipes out
The other captures
ideas, making sure
that people get the
[End of Section]
Forms of Poetry
Could you write a poem by listing four or five
things found in your classroom?
You could if you
were writing a
catalog poem—
free verse that
lists the poet’s
thoughts or
feelings on a
Forms of Poetry
A catalog poem is a list:
On the first day of school, I see shoes.
My classmates wear big shoes, small
shoes, smelly shoes—shoes built for
running and moving.
I see desks. . . .
Other kinds of poems
• tell stories
• express feelings
• honor someone or
some event
• remember someone
Forms of Poetry
Tell a story
in free
Mourn the
loss of
someone or
You will read many of these forms in this collection.
Forms of Poetry
Quick Check
What is the form of this poem?
I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,
Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it
should be blithe and strong,
The carpenter singing his as he measures his
plank or beam, . . .
The delicious singing of the mother, or of the
young wife at work, or of the girl sewing or
washing, . . .
from “I Hear America Singing”
by Walt Whitman
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Tone reflects a poet’s attitude toward a subject.
Imagine you are writing a poem about the man in
this picture. What would be your tone, or attitude?
To determine a poem’s tone, ask:
How do the
• words
• images
• sounds
make you feel?
A poet carefully chooses every word and detail to
help you understand and share his or her attitude.
Quick Check
And still of a winter’s night, they say,
What is
when the wind is in the trees,
the tone
When the moon is a ghostly galleon
of this
tossed upon cloudy seas,
When the road is a ribbon of moonlight
from “The
over the purple moor,
A highwayman comes riding—
A highwayman comes riding, up to the
old inn door.
by Alfred Noyes
[End of Section]
You can think of a poet as an artist who uses
words the way a painter uses paint.
like tufts
of wool
the rock’s
face . . . a
carpet of
red sand
The poet’s words create images, or pictures, in
the reader’s mind.
Listen to this excerpt from “The Highwayman.”
What images do you see?
The wind was a torrent of darkness
among the gusty trees,
The moon was a ghostly galleon,
tossed upon cloudy seas,
The road was a ribbon of moonlight
over the purple moor,
And the highwayman came riding. . . .
by Alfred Noyes
Is this how you imagined the scene?
Images in poetry focus on all of the senses.
He rode with a jeweled twinkle. . . .
Over the cobbles he clattered and clashed in
the dark inn yard.
They said no word to the landlord. They
drank his ale instead.
He scarce could reach her hand. . . .
. . . his hair like moldy hay. . . .
Quick Check
The sky is low, the clouds are
A traveling flake of snow
Across a barn or through a rut
Debates if it will go.
Find examples of
images in this
poem that appeal
to different
A narrow wind complains all day
How some one treated him;
Nature, like us, is sometimes
Without her diadem.
by Emily Dickinson
(edited by Thomas Wentworth Higginson)
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Figurative Language
Poets also use figures of speech—language
that helps make startling connections between
dissimilar things.
What connections are made in the following lines
from “The Railway Train”?
I like to see it lap the miles,
And lick the valleys up,
And stop to feed itself at tanks. . . .
by Emily Dickinson
Figurative Language
A train is
compared to a
Figurative Language
A simile is a comparison of two unlike things
using the word like, as, or resembles.
There came a wind like a bugle. . . .
• How are these very different
things alike?
• What meaning does the poet
want us to make from this
Figurative Language
A metaphor compares two unlike things without
using like, as, or resembles.
Stars are great drops
Of golden dew
from “Harlem Night Song”
by Langston Hughes
Figurative Language
An extended metaphor is a comparison that
continues through many lines or the entire poem.
All the world's a stage,
And all the men and
women merely players;
They have their exits and their
And one man in his time plays
many parts,
His acts being seven ages.
by William Shakespeare
Figurative Language
Quick Check
What figure(s)
And we saw him, or thought we saw
of speech
him, dim and gray,
are used in these
Like a shadow against the curtain of
lines from a
falling flakes.
poem about a
young horse?
from “The Runaway”
by Robert Frost
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A few more definitions…
• Alliteration – is the use of two or more
words that begin with the same consonant
sound. EX: Susie sells silly string at the
soda stand.
• Personification – gives objects and animals
the ability to act like people.
EX: The Breeze whispered a lullaby through
the pines.
• Onomatopoeia – use of words to represent
a real sound. EX: hiss, moo, buzz
Analyze Elements of Poetry
Your Turn
• What makes poetry different from prose?
Include different elements as examples.
• Identify an element of poetry that you would
like to understand better, and explain why.
[End of Section]
The End
Become familiar with stanzas,
rhyming words and rhyme
schemes (rhyme patterns).
Most writing is composed using
paragraphs. Poetry is composed of
stanzas. A stanza is a paragraph
like grouping of lines.
Rhyming words are words that make
the same end vowel sound (blue/shoe)
or the same end vowel and consonant
sound (cat/rat).
The rhyme scheme in a poem can be
represented by letters. For example, call
the first line a. Every other line that
rhymes with the first line is also
represented by the letter a. The first line
that does not rhyme with a is b. Every line
that rhymes with b is also b. The patterns
continues, using new letters to represent
each new sound at the end of a line.
Continues into other stanzas.
The following short poem
illustrates the labeling of a
rhyme scheme.
There once was a big brown cat
That liked to eat a lot of mice.
He got all round and fat
Because they tasted so nice.

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