Introduction to the Aspects of Poetry
Ms. Klanderman
How to use this PowerPoint
 This PowerPoint is designed to help you
understand what makes poetry such a
creative and wonderful form of selfexpression. It will prepare you to write
your own poetry.
 Anything typed in red is something you
need to write down in your journal and/or
do in your journal.
 If you are absent, go to my website to
make up what you missed. (google
“Klanderman and Creative Writing I”)
Poetic expression is hard to define
and even harder to label since in
itself it can comprise so many
styles, ideas, lengths and forms.
In this class we will focus on these
poetic aspects:
Idea and Emotion
Type and Form
Style of the Line
Concise Word Choice
When students tell me they write for
their own enjoyment, most students
tell me they like to write poetry.
Answer in your journal: Why is this
so? Why do some teens write and/or
read poems?
“We don't read and write poetry because it's
cute. We read and write poetry because we
are members of the human race. And the
human race is filled with passion. And
medicine, law, business, engineering - these
are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain
life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love - these
are what we stay alive for.”
Mr. Keating, played by Robin Williams in the
movie Dead Poet’s Society
Idea and Emotion
Poetry is the one type of writing that truly
comes from an emotional response to an
image, an event or experience, or a memory.
Most poets say they are inspired to write a
"A poem begins with a lump in the throat; a home-sickness
or a love-sickness. It is a reaching-out toward expression;
an effort to find fulfillment. A complete poem is one where
an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found
the words.”-Robert Frost
“If you know what you are going to write when you’re writing
a poem, it’s going to be average.” –Derek Walcott
Emotion- Some poets begin writing a
poem for an emotional release.
Idea- Some poets begin writing a
poem because they are inspired by
something they’ve experienced.
Answer the following questions in your
What are typical emotions and topics
shown in poetry?
Are there bad poetry topics?
Answer in your journal: What does a
poem need to look like and contain to
be a poem?
Things to think about in your answer:
Do most poems rhyme?
Are poems about emotions?
Are poems a certain length?
What is the goal of a poem?
Can poets ignore grammar rules like capital letters and punctuation?
Can poems be funny?
What types of word choice or language do you see in poems?
A Supermarket In California
by Allan Ginsberg
What thoughts I have of you tonight, Walt Whitman, for I walked
down the sidestreets under the trees with a headache self-conscious looking
at the full moon.
In my hungry fatigue, and shopping for images, I went into the neon
fruit supermarket, dreaming of your enumerations!
What peaches and what penumbras! Whole families shopping at
night! Aisles full of husbands! Wives in the avocados, babies in the tomatoes!
--and you, García Lorca, what were you doing down by the watermelons?
Is this a poem?
Is this a poem?
Coming Up by Ani DiFranco
Our father who art in a penthouse
Sits in his 37th floor suite
And swivels to gaze down
At the city he made me in
He allows me to stand and
Solicit graffiti until
He needs the land I stand on
I in my darkened threshold pawing through my pockets
The receipts, the bus schedules
The urgent napkin poems
The matchbook phone numbers
All of which laundering has rendered
Pulpy and strange
Loose change and a key
Ask me
Go ahead, ask me if I care
I got the answer here
I wrote it down somewhere
I just gotta find it
Is This A
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that, the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
two roads diverged in a wood, and I -I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Is This A
The Road Not
Taken by
Robert Frost
Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
There is a place where the sidewalk ends
And before the street begins,
And there the grass grows soft and white,
And there the sun burns crimson bright,
And there the moon-bird rests from his flight
To cool in the peppermint wind.
Let us leave this place where the smoke blows black
And the dark street winds and bends.
Past the pits where the asphalt flowers grow
We shall walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And watch where the chalk-white arrows go
To the place where the sidewalk ends.
Yes we'll walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And we'll go where the chalk-white arrows go,
For the children, they mark, and the children, they know
The place where the sidewalk ends
The answer ?
 They are all poems.
 When you write a poem, it should have
a subject, a goal, a tone, and a flow. It
should contain specific, condensed
word choice and literary devices like
metaphor, simile and imagery.
If I asked you to write a poem
right now, how would you write a
One way is to follow a specific
Another way is to just write.
On the next five slides pick one
or more pictures and write
what comes to mind. Try to
write it as a poem.
Type and Form
There are MANY different types or forms of
poems. Some fit a specific format and some fit a
specific theme.
Some examples of format poems:
Acrostic: a word or set of words is written down
the page and each line starts with that letter.
Sonnet: 14 lines of iambic pentameter, with a
specific rhyme scheme and intro/conclusion style.
Sestina: Each stanza must use the same end
words as the first stanza, but in a different
pattern each time.
More Formats
Haiku- A three line poem with specific syllable
lengths of 5-7-5.
Limerick- Usually a funny poem with a AABBA
rhyme scheme and specific syllable length.
Villanelle- A poem where certain lines are repeated
to make more of a refrain
Pantoum: Each stanza reuses different lines in a
specific pattern from the previous stanzas.
“Sonnet 18” by William Shakespeare
Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimmed,
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature's changing course untrimmed:
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow'st,
Nor shall death brag thou wander'st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow'st,
So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.
Falling to the ground,
I watch a leaf settle down
In a bed of brown.
There once was a lady named Cager,
Who as the result of a wager,
Consented to fart
The entire oboe part
Of Mozart's quartet in F-major.
Types of poems written based on themes:
Elegy: A poem about something lost
Ode: A poem celebrating something
Road: A poem about a time of travel
Metaphor: The whole poem is a metaphor
Object Obsession: A poem written about an object
Narrative: A poem that tells a story
Ballad: A narrative poem with a refrain, usually about
Prose: A poem written more like a paragraph
"My Immortal“ by Evanescence
I'm so tired of being here
Suppressed by all my childish fears
And if you have to leave
I wish that you would just leave
'Cause your presence still lingers here
And it won't leave me alone
These wounds won't seem to heal
This pain is just too real
There's just too much that time cannot erase
When you cried I'd wipe away all of your tears
When you'd scream I'd fight away all of your fears
And I held your hand through all of these years
But you still have
All of me
You used to captivate me
By your resonating light
Now I'm bound by the life you
left behind
Your face it haunts
My once pleasant dreams
Your voice it chased away
All the sanity in me
These wounds won't seem to
This pain is just too real
There's just too much that
time cannot erase
Elegy to My Summer Writing Spot by Ms. K
It’s nights like these like friends forever leaving
that are so hard to say goodbye to, let go of.
So many things I’ve written
from this stoop of cool cement,
rough as a craftsman’s hands.
My light bulb toes curl upon it for the last
night write of fall.
The words come like raindrops in spring,
quickly covering this page and the next
until my body feels clean.
Even the cat stays out tonight.
Body a rectangle of charcoal fleece,
green eyes encircling dying spirea,
his pupils the size of dimes,
tail curled in a J
until his cheek finds my outstretched hand
and the rectangle becomes an ellipse
poised for a rubdown.
His hind leg sticks out,
white paw pointing like a compass needle.
In the distance, a motorcycle revs its engine.
The winds swings on the chimes’ pendulum,
whooshing through an evening I’d like to keep
in a jar on the counter,
a clear glass delight
to open some clotted January night
when it hurts to keep your eyes open.
“ODE to Guitar Hero” by Josh Lefeber
A video game none the less.
But an addiction at the most.
Oh Guitar hero, you are my escape.
When the world is just too much.
Depending on my mood.
I can play many different levels.
Easy, Medium, Hard, or Even Expert.
Just getting lost in the songs.
Easy Mode has become just like breathing.
Medium like riding a bike.
Hard can be like taking a calc test.
Expert almost like a chance of winning the lottery.
Green, Red, Yellow, Blue and Orange.
The colors of the frets on your neck.
The boring black guitar oh so plain.
The whammy bar at the base.
I can personalize you anyway I want.
I can paint you, put stickers you.
Even change your face plate.
To make our time together a blast.
I also can be reliving the Legends
of Rock.
“Hit Me with Your Best Shot,”
What life would be like without you?
Maybe I would actually get something done. “Paint it Black” or “Barracuda.”
Are just a few of the songs I am
We have spent many countless hours
jamming too.
I wouldn't trade them for a thing.
Oh Guitar Hero,
The greatest part about you is
being able to play along with friends.
Enjoying every minute together.
Guitar hero is starting to rule my life.
Late at night my friends become
Slash and Tommy.
Were jamming out like were best friends.
Whether I am Rocking the 80's
With songs like “What I Like About You,”
“Nothing but a Good Time,” or
“I Wanna Rock.”
Either a strap around my neck,
or sitting down with you in my lap.
I manage to play with such ease,
praying that I don't mess up.
Playing you instead of doing
and sleeping less and less.
You are my nicotine, in a plastic
Oh Guitar Hero.
An Ode to Anticipating Autobiographical Incident Essays by Ms. K
It’s Friday morning
and twenty-five futures type
in neat rows atop a scuffed hardwood floor
that’s seen 2000 times as many futures pass
in and out of its paneled doors.
They type their lives in clicks and taps,
the sound of percolating thoughts
steady and constant like the in/out breath
of someone sleeping a dream.
Their ideas tick along as the second hand sweeps its
sixty second circle behind me on the wall.
On white rectangular screens,
one black Times New Roman letter at a time,
words appear faster than raindrops on dry pavement.
Their ideas flow like the colors in woven rag rugs,
and branch out like the streets they traveled to get here.
I say, “Record a memory with a lesson learned,”
and walk around to see screens filled with first boyfriends,
prank stalker calls,
stolen garden gnomes.
One vandalized picnic tables with swear words,
another placed 100 orange caution flags in a friend’s front yard.
They show me the hiding spots parents never catch,
where only silent voices play tag
and this time I get to be “it”
and chase them all down.
A Metaphor Song: “TIME” by Pink Floyd
Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day
You fritter and waste the hours in an off-hand way
Kicking around on a piece of ground in your home town
Waiting for someone or something to show you the way
Tired of lying in the sunshine staying home to watch the rain
You are young and life is long and there is time to kill today
And then the one day you find ten years have got behind you
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun
And you run and you run to catch up with the sun, but it's sinking
And racing around to come up behind you again
The sun is the same in the relative way, but you're older
And shorter of breath and one day closer to death
Every year is getting shorter, never seem to find the time
Plans that either come to naught or half a page of scribbled lines
Hanging on in quiet desparation is the English way
The time is gone the song is over, thought I'd something more to say
Style of the Line
As a poet you want to think about how
you will write your lines:
Are you following a formula?
If not do you want it have a “beat” or
more natural flow?
When will you make a new line?
How will you divide your poem?
Some poems, and especially songs will have a
specific rhythm. You can feel it (like the beat in music).
Many rhyming poems have a rhythm or beat.
“The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe is an example of a
poem that relies heavily on a specific rhythm and rhyme. It
is also a narrative poem (one that tells a story).
Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
`'Tis some visitor,' I muttered, `tapping at my chamber door Only this, and nothing more.‘
Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow; - vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow - sorrow for the lost Lenore For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels named Lenore Nameless here for evermore.
Poems without a specific rhythm or beat are
called Free Verse.
•Invented in the 1800s by Walt Whitman
•Usually Non-rhyming
•Line breaks and line lengths are up to the poet.
•It is the most popular form used by
contemporary poets today.
From “Song of Myself” from the book Leaves of Grass
I depart as air, I shake my white locks at the runaway sun,
I effuse my flesh in eddies, and drift it in lacy jags.
I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love,
If you want me again look for me under your boot-soles.
You will hardly know who I am or what I mean,
But I shall be good health to you nevertheless,
And filter and fibre your blood.
Failing to fetch me at first keep encouraged,
Missing me one place search another,
I stop somewhere waiting for you.
The ideas in a poem are organized by
line breaks and stanzas.
Stanza- is like a poetry paragraph.
The next slide will show you
examples of stanzas (and me really
happy because I met one of my
favorite poets at 2008’s Fox Cities
Book Festival )
“Introduction to Poetry” by Billy Collins
I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide.
or press an ear against its hive.
I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,
Or walk inside the poems’ room
And feel the walls for a light switch.
I want them to water-ski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author’s name on the
But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.
They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.
Concise Word Choice
“Poets must seek “complex” thoughts and
feelings and compress such complexity into
a single moment.” –Ezra Pound
Some people write out their feelings when
they are having a hard time. Pretend you
can take all of those words and feelings into
your hand. Squeeze them as hard as you
can. What leaks through your fingers is the
essence; that is what you use to write a
poem. -Ms. K
Sensory Language and Visual Imagery
Since most poems express emotions and ideas, a
writer must SHOW what is being written about. Poets
and song writers use visual imagery and sensory
language to show ideas.
Sensory language is using words that appeal to the
five senses. Showing what something sounds, smells,
tastes, looks, and feels like.
Visual imagery is “painting a picture with words.”
Visual imagery uses aspects of sensory language,
specifically sight, to recreate images, ideas and
emotions. Strong verbs and specific adjectives/
adverbs are used.
Example of Sensory Language
and Visual Imagery
“The Round” by Stanley Kunitz
Light splashed this morning
on the shell-pink anemones
swaying on their tall stems;
down blue-spiked Veronica
light flowed in rivulets
over the humps of the honeybees;
this morning I saw light kiss
the silk of the roses
in their second flowering,
my late bloomers
flushed with their brandy.
A curious gladness shook me…
Blue- personification
Green- visual imagery
The Student by Ted Kooser
The green shell of his back pack makes him lean
Green- visual imagery
into wave after wave or responsibility,
Red- simile
and he swings his stiff arms and cupped hands,
paddling ahead. He has extended his neck
to its full length, and his chin, hard as a beak,
breaks the cold surf. He’s got his baseball cap on
backward as up he crawls, out of the froth
of a hangover and onto the sand of the future,
and lumbers, heavy with hope, into the library.
My Papa's Waltz by Theodore Roethke
The whiskey on your breath
Could make a small boy dizzy;
But I hung on like death:
Such waltzing was not easy.
We romped until the pans
Slid from the kitchen shelf;
My mother's countenance
Could not unfrown itself.
The hand that held my wrist
Was battered on one knuckle;
At every step you missed
My right ear scraped a buckle.
You beat time on my head
With a palm caked hard by dirt,
Then waltzed me off to bed
Still clinging to your shirt.
Pick one picture and describe it using the five senses:
One of the hardest things about writing poetry is making a
topic that has already been written about seem new. Derek
Walcott helps answer this question.
“Poetry is the revelation of a feeling that the poet believes to
be interior and personal which the reader recognizes as his
Salvatore Quasimodo
Therefore, poetry must come alive in a way that makes
readers feel as if they are experiencing events and emotions
for the first time. Everyone has had relationship troubles,
mourned the death of a loved one, or witnessed injustice. How
do you write about your experience so the reader sees it as
your own?
If your emotion is sadness, how do you
show us?
If your emotion is happiness, how do
you show us?
My girlfriend broke my heart.
She crushed my soul.
She destroyed my being.
Is this a good poem?
She is with another.
She has betrayed me.
I wish she could see,
How miserable she has made me.
How can it be made
She will never know,
What I can show,
She will be lost someday
Knowing that what we had will not stay.
I want her back
But understand our relationship would lack.
She will know.
Tonight I can write the saddest lines
By Pablo Neruda
Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
Write, for example,'The night is shattered
and the blue stars shiver in the distance.'
The night wind revolves in the sky and sings.
Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too.
Through nights like this one I held her in my arms
I kissed her again and again under the endless sky.
She loved me sometimes, and I loved her too.
How could one not have loved her great still eyes.
Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
To think that I do not have her. To feel that I have lost her.
To hear the immense night, still more immense without her.
And the verse falls to the soul like dew to the pasture.
What does it matter that my love could not keep her.
The night is shattered and she is not with me.
Puedo escribir los
versos más tristes esta
Escribir, por ejemplo :
'La noche está
y tiritan, azules, los
astros, a lo lejos'.
El viento de la noche
gira en el cielo y canta.
Puedo escribir los
versos más tristes esta
This is all. In the distance someone is singing. In the distance.
My soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.
My sight searches for her as though to go to her.
My heart looks for her, and she is not with me.
The same night whitening the same trees.
We, of that time, are no longer the same.
I no longer love her, that's certain, but how I loved her.
My voice tried to find the wind to touch her hearing.
Another's. She will be another's. Like my kisses before.
Her void. Her bright body. Her infinite eyes.
I no longer love her, that's certain, but maybe I love her.
Love is so short, forgetting is so long.
Because through nights like this one I held her in my arms
my sould is not satisfied that it has lost her.
Though this be the last pain that she makes me suffer
and these the last verses that I write for her.
I wish I wasn’t lonely.
I wish I could escape my loneliness.
I would run fast.
I would leave
And my loneliness wouldn’t be able to find
What would you add or change to make it
“The Rider” by Naomi Shihab Nye
A boy told me
if he roller-skated fast enough
his loneliness couldn’t catch up to him,
the best reason I ever heard
for trying to be a champion.
What I wonder tonight
pedaling hard down King William Street
is if it translates to bicycles.
A victory! To leave your loneliness
panting behind you on some street corner
while you float free into a cloud of sudden azaleas,
pink petals that have never felt loneliness,
no matter how slowly they fell.
I feel pain.
I wish to sleep forever.
I wish I could go on.
I want to be strong, but can’t.
I will tell myself to keep going.
My heart has been crushed.
It is in little pieces.
All I feel is darkness.
My life is empty.
Can you show me the way?
Is this a good poem?
How can it be made better?
Lines for Winter
by Mark Strand
for Ros Krauss
Tell yourself
as it gets cold and gray falls from the air
that you will go on
walking, hearing
the same tune no matter where
you find yourself—
inside the dome of dark
or under the cracking white
of the moon's gaze in a valley of snow.
Tonight as it gets cold
tell yourself
what you know which is nothing
but the tune your bones play
as you keep going. And you will be able
for once to lie down under the small fire
of winter stars.
And if it happens that you cannot
go on or turn back
and you find yourself
where you will be at the end,
tell yourself
in that final flowing of cold through your limbs
that you love what you are.
Figurative Language
Poetry and songs frequently use
figurative language. Figurative
language uses comparisons,
description, and explanation to help the
reader understand. There are many
types of figurative language. The most
common forms found in poetry and
songs are:
Using like or as to compare
two different things.
Her hair was as orange as a
Life is like a box of chocolates…
He would stride off, sending
patterns of frosty air before him
like the smoke of a cigar.
Apply Yourself! by Kathy Appelt
“Apply yourself!” was all he ever heard,
as if he could wrap himself around his homework
like a Band-Aid around a cut
as if he could glue his fingers to his Spanish
vocabulary words,
paper feathers on his fingertips
as if he could nail his palms to Economics
as if he could plug his whole being into the good grade
as if he could tape his head to the linoleum
as if he could paste his butt to the desk
as if he could spread his gray matter onto the test sheet
like peanut butter on toast
as if algorithms and battles and presidents and
theorems and scales and pep rallies and
maps and cosines and Bunsen burners and
hurricane charts and bills of rights and
dangling participles and dress codes and
all that filled his notebook could stick to his thin body
like flies to flypaper, his fragile wings
pinned to the poisonous strip
as if all that matters and will matter
is to add it all up and fill out the application…
as if that mattered at all, as if that mattered
at all…or all at once…
as if that was all that mattered.
The Derelict by Sharon Olds
He passes me on the street, his hair
matted, skin polished with grime,
muttering, suit stained and stiffened—
and yet he is so young, his blond beard like a
sign of beauty and power. But his hands,
strangely flat, as if nerveless, hands that
flap slightly as he walks, like hands of
someone who has had polio, hands,
that cannot be used. I smell the waste of his
piss, I see the ingot of his beard,
and think of my younger brother, his beauty,
coinage and voltage of his beard, his life
he is not using, like a violinist whose
hands have been crushed so he cannot play—
I who was there at the crushing of his hands
and helped to crush them.
Orange- simile
HELLO, I MUST BE GOING by Ms. Klanderman
When we finally took her cigarettes away
Nana tried to smoke chicken bones, lighting
each gnarled end with matches we forgot to
check her pocket for. “You’re a sweetie” was
her mantra, repeated like her old blue parakeet
she forgot to feed, and it died slowly, like the
smile from her face as she sat in
the blue velour chair, staring out the front window
like she was watching a Garbo movie.
When we came to bring her groceries,
those bags like birthday presents,
she would hike up her sweat pants
like an umpire contemplating a play and
wander to the kitchen, her fingers playing with the
edge of her t-shirt, and peer through
blue eyes, as clean as a slate, as we pulled
cans of fruit cocktail and snack cakes magic-like from
brown paper sacks. She had the looks of Marilyn,
never left the house in any shoes but heels, even
ironed Boompa’s boxers until her mind moved on and
forgot to leave a note. When we came over today
she looked through me like I was a pane of glass. My
face like one she saw once in a magazine ad,
or in the crowd at St. John’s Sunday mass.
She asked me who I was, her voice like the hello you
speak into the phone, distant and hollow like she
was across a lake. The glimmer of recognition in
her face like a dying ember stoked for the last time
before burning out altogether. She put her hands
up to her ashen face, devoid of the makeup she
caked on like Tammy Faye, and felt for her once pretty
eyes, that broke a hundred hearts, as they betrayed
her with tears, splashing down her face, surprising her
like rain on someone else’s cheeks.
Orange- simile
Now practice your own similes:
The dog wagged his tail like…
The tree swayed in the wind like…
The night was as dark as…
The music from the fifth grade band concert sounded like…
The girl’s face was red as a….
His legs moved as fast as…
A direct comparison between
two things. A is B.
The stars are eye candy.
Freedom is a breakfast food.
Their love is the slap of a baseball
in a mitt.
“All I Need” By Radiohead
This song uses metaphors.
I'm the next act
Waiting in the wings
I'm just an insect
Trying to get out of the night
I'm an animal
Trapped in your hot car
I only stick with you
Because there are no others
I am all the days
That you choose to ignore
You are all I need
You're all I need
I'm in the middle of your picture
Lying in the reeds
You are all I need
You are all I need
I'm in the middle of your picture
Lying in the reeds
I'm a moth
Who just wants to share your light
It's all wrong
It's all right
It's all wrong
Sometimes they are written directlyLife is a rollercoaster
Life= A
Rollercoaster= B
Sometimes the form of “is” is left out.Her face,a picture of bliss, gazed at the ocean.
Picture of bliss=B
Night Letter to the Reader by Billy Collins
I get up from the tangled bed and go outside,
a bird leaving its nest,
a snail taking a holiday from its shell,
but only to stand on the lawn,
an ordinary insomniac
amid the growth systems of gardens and woods.
If I were younger, I might be thinking
about something I heard at a party,
about an unusual car,
or the press of Saturday night,
but as it is, I am simply conscious,
an animal in pajamas,
sensing only the pale humidity
of the night and the slight zephyrs
that stir the tops of trees.
The dog has followed me out
and stands a little ahead,
her nose lifted as if she were inhaling
Pink - metaphor
the tall white flowers,
visible tonight in the darkened garden,
and there was something else I wanted to tell you,
something about the warm orange light
in the windows of the house,
but now I am wondering if you are even listening
and why I bother to tell you these things
that will never make a difference,
flecks of ash, tiny chips of ice.
But this is all I want to do—
tell you that up in the woods
a few night birds were calling,
the grass was cold and wet on my bare feet,
and that at one point, the moon,
looking like the top of Shakespeare’s
famous forehead,
appeared, quite unexpectedly,
illuminating a band of moving clouds.
Orange- Simile
Poems for Blok, 1
by Marina Tsvetaeva
Your name is a—bird in my hand,
a piece of ice on my tongue.
The lips' quick opening.
Your name—five letters.
A ball caught in flight,
a silver bell in my mouth.
A stone thrown into a silent lake
is—the sound of your name.
The light click of hooves at night
—your name.
Your name at my temple
—shrill click of a cocked gun.
Your name—impossible—
kiss on my eyes,
the chill of closed eyelids.
Your name—a kiss of snow.
Blue gulp of icy spring water.
With your name—sleep deepens.
Now try writing a metaphor sequence:
Complete the following in your journal.
Pick a noun:
Your name is….
Your face is…
Your car is…
Your dog is…
Your mom is…
Your friend is…
Now try to write FIVE metaphors that directly
compare your noun to another noun.
Comparing the action/idea/emotion
etc. of something non-human to
something human.
The podium proudly stood in front of the
class room.
The fire rushed back into every closet and
felt of the clothes that hung there.
Under the Harvest Moon
by Carl Sandburg
Under the harvest moon,
When the soft silver
Drips shimmering
Over the garden nights,
Death, the gray mocker,
Comes and whispers to you
As a beautiful friend
Who remembers.
Under the summer roses
When the flagrant crimson
Lurks in the dusk
Of the wild red leaves,
Love, with little hands,
Comes and touches you
With a thousand memories,
And asks you
Beautiful, unanswerable questions.
Blue = personification
Apple Pies by Ms. Klanderman
I like how she could peel
the skin of each apple
so it came off in one
long crimson strand
like Christmas ribbon,
and the way the kitchen walls
clung to the cinnamon smell
three days later,
and the way the oven sighed
the breath of the baking crust
I’d see her roll out to the thickness
of the old silver dollars
she kept in the jewelry box
next to her bed.
She’d scoop the sliced apples
each shaped in a fruity grin
wet with sugar
into the tin bed of the pan
and cover it with a blanket of dough,
then tuck it in slowly
turning and pinching
until it was sealed,
her tongue stuck into
the corner of her mouth,
flour like a line of latitude
printed across the front of her red sweatshirt.
I like how she’d bend her knees,
those knobby bumps poking from cut-offs,
as she watched her creation born
through the thick glass of the oven door.
Orange= simile
Blue= personification
Green= sensory detail and/or
visual imagery
Words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup
They slither wildly as they slip away across the universe
Pools of sorrow, waves of joy are drifting through my open mind
Possessing and caressing me
Jai Guru Deva OM
Nothing's gonna change my world x4
Images of broken light which dance before me like a million eyes
They call me on and on across the universe
Thoughts meander like a restless wind inside a letter box
They tumble blindly as they make their way across the universe
Jai Guru Deva OM
Nothing's gonna change my world x4
Sounds of laughter shades of life are ringing through my open ears
Inciting and inviting me
Limitless undying love which shines around me like a million suns
It calls me on and on, across the universe
Jai Guru Deva OM
“Fog” by Carl Sandburg
The fog comes out
on little cat feet.
It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.
The easiest way to add personification is:
1. To give the non-human thing an emotion, state of being or quality that
humans have
From “There Will Come Soft Rains” by Ray Bradbury
The clock screamed its morning alarm as if it were afraid nobody could hear
From “The Victims” by Sharon Olds
The black noses of your shoes with their large pores.
From “How it Is” by Maxine Kumin
The dog at the center of my life recognizes/ you’ve come to visit, he’s
From “Feeding Time” by Maxine Kumin
Horses are waiting./Each enters his box/in the order they’ve all/agreed
on,…cat supervises from the molding cove.
2. Make it do something it cannot (use an action
From “Apple Pies” by Ms. K
the oven sighed
the breath of the baking crust
From “Sonnet 18” by William Shakespeare
Nor shall death brag thou wander'st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow'st,
From “Lines for Winter” by Mark Strand
tell yourself
what you know which is nothing
but the tune your bones play
From “The Round” by Stanley Kunitz
I saw light kiss
the silk of the roses
From “Across the Universe” by Lennon/McCartney
Sounds of laughter shades of life are ringing through my open ears
Inciting and inviting me
3. Imbed it in a simile or metaphor
From “Across the Universe” written by Lennon and
Thoughts meander like a restless wind (simile)
From “Under the Harvest Moon” by Carl Sandburg
Death, the gray mocker, (metaphor)
From “The Derelict” by Sharon Olds
blond beard like a sign of beauty and power.
From “Under a Harvest Moon” by Carl Sandburg
Comes and whispers to you
As a beautiful friend
Who remembers. (metaphor)
Bermuda by Billy Collins
When we walk down the bleached-out wooden stairs
to the beach and lie on our backs
on the blue and white chaises
near the edge of the water
on this dot in the atlas,
this single button on the blazer of the sea,
we come about as close
as a man and woman can
to doing nothing.
All morning long we watch the clouds
roll overhead
or close our eyes and do the lazy back-and-forth talk,
our voices flattened by the drone of surf,
our words tumbling oddly in the wind….
…The white sand heats up
as one of us points out the snout of a pig
on the horizon, and higher up
a gaping alligator poised to eat a smaller cloud.
See how that one is a giant head,
like the devil wearing glasses
you say, but my eyes are shut against the sun
and I only hear your words,
softened and warped by the sea breeze…
Symbols as thematic word
Symbols are words, ideas etc. used to
represent something else or an idea.
Symbols are used often in poetry. A word, a
phrase or the whole poem could be a
The Challenge of the Earth Worm
By Mrs. Klanderman
Hard, heavy drops knocked
on soggy earthen doors,
beckoning them to come forth
like ants toward a sticky chunk of candy.
As I run on pavement wet with rain
that finally got tired of graying my day,
they sprawl themselves out,
brown tubes of life slithering,
until car tires squirt their essence out onto grey pave.
When I was young I saved them,
my hands thick with their milky slime,
I’d cup slimy, brown bodies,
writhing in protest
and toss them lightly onto grass,
only to see them crawl right back out.
My toes are wet through my shoes,
I can feel their shriveled, pale skin.
I pound on,
feet like giant stamps
dodging worms stretching pale pinkish grey bodies,
like stick straight varicose veins
slowly crossing the road.
I read that worms can live under water
but the road is their Everest they need to traverse.
Most will never make it,
but I think that’s exactly why they try.
The Cure by Ginger Andrews
Lying around all day
with some strange new deep blue
weekend funk, I'm not really asleep
when my sister calls
to say she's just hung up
from talking with Aunt Bertha
who is 89 and ill but managing
to take care of Uncle Frank
who is completely bed ridden.
Aunt Bert says
it's snowing there in Arkansas,
on Catfish Lane, and she hasn't been
able to walk out to their mailbox.
She's been suffering
from a bad case of the mulleygrubs.
The cure for the mulleygrubs,
she tells my sister,
is to get up and bake a cake.
If that doesn't do it, put on a red dress.
Look at the similes in this poem.
What do you think the similes
represent about
the symbolism in this poem?
“A Dream Deferred”
Langston Hughes
What happens to a
dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore-And then run?
Does it stink like rotten
Or crust and sugar overlike a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?
Answer this question in your
“A Dream Deferred”
Look at the similes, imagery and
metaphors in this poem.
What do you think they
represent about
the symbolism in this poem?
The Guild by Sharon Olds
Every night, as my grandfather sat
in the darkened room in front of the fire,
the liquor like fire in his hand, his eye
glittering meaninglessly in the light
from the flames, his glass eye baleful and stony,
a young man sat with him
in silence and darkness, a college boy with
white skin, unlined, a narrow
beautiful face, a broad domed
forehead, and eyes amber as the resin from
trees too young to be cut yet.
This was his son, who sat, an apprentice,
night after night, his glass of coals
next to the old man’s glass of coals,
and he drank when the old man drank, and he learned
the craft of oblivion—the young man
not yet cruel, his hair dark as the
soil that feeds the tree’s roots,
that son who would come to be in his turn
better at this than the teacher, the apprentice
who would pass his master in cruelty and oblivion,
drinking steadily by the flames in the blackness,
that young man my father.
Answer this question in your
“The Guild” symbolizes…
Click the link below to read “the lesson of the moth” by Don Marquis.
After reading it, what do you think the poem symbolizes?
Sounds of Poetry as word choice
Poets can pick certain words to make their poetry
sound a certain way.
Alliteration- Repetitive consonant sounds at the
beginnings of words
Examples: Peter Piper picked a peck…
Lazy living led Leonard to loath labor…
Purpose: gives words “pep and pop” by
emphasizing their sound
Assonance- Repetitive vowel sounds within
Examples: Avid fan in the grand stand…
Tony dropped a bowling ball on his toe.
Purpose: helps making your words flow
in a musically pleasing way.
Onomatopoeia- Words that sound like what
they are describing
Examples: splash, splat, pop, woof, meow…
Purpose: It realistically describes the sound
using the real sound.
Rhyme-The repetition of the accented vowel
sounds and all succeeding sounds
Examples- mouse/house, basement/casement,
Purposes- Rhyme gives specific flow, can connect
ideas together. Typically seen in children’s poetry,
humor or light verse (Hallmark cards).
Rhyme Scheme:
A way to label a pattern of rhyme occurring throughout a
The cat was really big.
He ate lots of mice.
He liked to wear a wig.
He chewed on some dice.
Some poems require a certain rhyme scheme (limericks
and sonnets for example.) is website for rhyming.
Examples of Rhyming Poems
Ogden Nash-The King of funny rhyme
Celery, raw
Develops the jaw,
But celery, stewed,
Is more quietly chewed.
“The Wasp”
The wasp and all his numerous family
I look upon as a major calamity.
He throws open his nest with
But I distrust his waspitality.
“Whatif” by Shel Silverstein
Last night, while I lay thinking here,
some Whatifs crawled inside my ear
and pranced and partied all night long
and sang their same old Whatif song:
Whatif I'm dumb in school?
Whatif they've closed the swimming pool?
Whatif I get beat up?
Whatif there's poison in my cup?
Whatif I start to cry?
Whatif I get sick and die?
Whatif I flunk that test?
Whatif green hair grows on my chest?
Whatif nobody likes me?
Whatif a bolt of lightning strikes me?
Whatif I don't grow taller?
Whatif my head starts getting smaller?
Whatif the fish won't bite?
Whatif the wind tears up my kite?
Whatif they start a war?
Whatif my parents get divorced?
Whatif the bus is late?
Whatif my teeth don't grow in straight?
Whatif I tear my pants?
Whatif I never learn to dance?
Everything seems well, and then
the nighttime Whatifs strike again!

Introduction to Reading and Understanding Poetry