AP Language and Composition
Poetry Unit
Unit Objectives
Students will know . . .
• The literary devices that are present in all poems
• Steps to take in order to analyze poems efficiently
• There are many different types of poems that spark
different experiences
Students will be able to . . .
• Reflect daily on the poems that we read
• Analyze and explicate poem
• Identify literary devices in poems and types of
poems that they see
Unit Objectives
Performance Tasks:
• Write reflections on the poems in class
• Compete Poetry Data Sheets
• Complete a TPCASTT
Other Evidence:
• Regular discussions about the poems
• Poetry analysis
• Handouts that focus on certain literary devices
• Readings of poems
• Listening to poems
Quick Write:
Choose one of the following questions to answer:
• What is Poetry?
• What is the role of the poet?
Billie Collins
• Poetry can and should be an important
part of our daily lives. Poems can inspire
and make us think about what it means to
be a member of the human race. By just
spending a few minutes reading a poem
each day, new worlds can be revealed.
Introduction to Poetry
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 poem's room
and feel the walls for a light switch.
I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author's name on the shore.
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.
from The Apple
that Astonished
Paris, 1996
University of
Arkansas Press,
Copyright 1988 by
Billy Collins.
All rights
Unit Objectives
• This Unit is going to be about poetry and we are
going to begin to explore what poetry is and how
we can read it in order to appreciate it fully.
• Look over the poems in the packet, you will be
able to identify what the poem is saying about
poetry AND what the role of the poet is in these
Define Poetry
• The definition of poetry is seemingly not
concrete but we are going to look at a scholars
way of being introduced to poetry.
• What do you define poetry as?
• 1 a : metrical writing : verse b : the
productions of a poet : poems
• 2 : writing that formulates a concentrated
imaginative awareness of experience in
language chosen and arranged to create a
specific emotional response through meaning,
sound, and rhythm
• 3 : something likened to poetry especially in
beauty of expression
• First Known Use of POETRY
• 14th century
What is poetry?
• "I have said that poetry is the spontaneous overflow of
powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected
in tranquillity: the emotion is contemplated till, by a species
of reaction, the tranquillity gradually disappears, and an
emotion, kindred to that which was before the subject of
contemplation, is gradually produced, and does itself actually
exist in the mind. In this mood successful composition
generally begins, and in a mood similar to this it is carried on;
but the emotion, of whatever kind, and in whatever degree,
from various causes, is qualified by various pleasures, so that
in describing any passions whatsoever, which are voluntarily
described, the mind will, upon the whole, be in a state of
--William Wordsworth, 1798
Poetry Data Sheet
• how to analytically break a poem down
• this is a logical instruction based way of knowing
what to look for and what to comment on for
• We will go through each bracket and explain it
• T-title: The meaning of the title without
reference to the poem.
• P-paraphrase: Put the poem, line by line, in
your own words. DO NOT READ INTO THE
POEM. Only read on surface level.
• C- Diction and symbolism
- Imagery
- Metaphors and similes
- Rhyme scheme
- End rhymes and internal
- End stop
- Enjambment
- Alliteration
- Consonance
- Mood
- Allusions
-connotation: looking for deeper
• A-attitude: Looking for the author’s tone. How
is the writer speaking?
• S-shifts: Looking for shifts in tone, action, and
rhythm. Don’t just write the number. Discuss
• how the shift(s) affects the poem.
• T-title: reevaluate the title as it pertains to the
• T-theme: What does the poem mean? What is it
saying? How does it relate to life?
The Poetic Method:
The terminology and concepts
required for the study of poetry
Categories of the Poetic Method:
Imagery: Sensuous, Figurative, Symbolic
Sound Devices
Formal Devices: Formal Structure, Meter, Rhythm, Other Factors,
*These 4 categories make up what is known as the Physical Structure of a
*The other aspect of a poem is the Developmental Structure.
I. Diction: Word Choice
Why is diction important?
Determines the emotion the poet wishes to convey. Words
create a tone of sadness, melancholy, fear, happiness,
concern, excitement, suspense, etc.
Connotation: Refers to the feeling or emotion a word
Denotation: Refers to the dictionary definition of a word.
Diction works in conjunction with Tone
Tone = DIDLS
Diction: The author’s word choice.
Images: Word pictures created by groups of words.
Details: Facts
Language: Formal, Informal, Slang, Colloquial
Sentence Structure: Short sentences are usually
more emotional or assertive.
Longer ones move toward more logical or scholarly
II. Imagery
A. Sensuous
1. Tactile – appeals to our sense of touch
2. Visual – appeals to our sense of sight
3. Auditory – appeals to our sense of sound
4. Gustatory – Appeals to our sense of taste
5. Olfactory – Appeals to our sense of smell
B. Figurative Imagery or Figures of Speech
1. Simile – A definitely stated comparison between 2 unlike objects that have one point in
common using the words “like” or “as”.
Example: He is as proud as a peacock.
She eats like a pig.
2. Metaphor: A comparison between 2 unlike objects that have one
point in common.
Example: Love is fire.
The point in common is the intensity and warmth of love and fire.
Example: Her voice was silk amid our homespun talk. The point in
common is the softness of her voice and the texture of silk.
3. Personification: This is a type of comparison in which a lifeless thing
(an inanimate object) is described in human terms or given human,
life-like qualities.
Example: The sun kissed the fields with warmth and brightness.
4. Apostrophe:
• Addressing or speaking to the dead as if living
• To an object as if it is alive
• To the absent as if they are present and able to understand the
The speaker turns away from the reader and addresses
someone or something in the poem.
“Speak gently, Spring, and make no sudden sound.
Walk softly, March, forbear the bitter blow.”
5. Metonymy:
A.The use of a word or an object to suggest something closely
associated with it.
Example: Give me a hand with this. (helping hand)
B. The use of part of something to suggest the whole thing.
Example: All hands on deck. (hands represent people)
C.The use of a container to suggest the thing it contains.
Example: May I approach the bench? (Bench refers to judge)
6. Hyperbole: An extreme exaggeration that is designed to have an
impact on the reader. It is not intended to deceive. Its purpose is
humour and/or emphasis.
Example: I’ve heard that story a thousand times.
7. Irony: The speaker’s meaning is far from the usual meaning of their
words, and it is the reader’s task to differentiate between the two.
There is a discrepancy between what is said and what is meant. It adds
force and emphasis to the speaker’s meaning.
Example of Verbal Irony: “It was very kind of you to remind me of my
Example of Dramatic Irony: Lady Macbeth’s comments about cleansing
the blood in Act 2 and its psychological effect in Act 5 as she sleepwalks
and tries to wash the blood from her hands.
8. Antithesis: A contrast of words or ideas. A thought is
balanced with a contrasting thought in parallel
arrangements of words and phrases.
Examples: -His mind is active but his body is sluggish.
-He promised wealth and provided poverty.
-It was the best of times; it was the worst of
9. Oxymoron: Technique used to produce an effect by a
seeming self-contradiction.
Examples: small crowd
cruel kindness
jumbo shrimp
Humourous Figures of Speech
Her face was a perfect oval, like a circle that had its two sides gently
compressed by a thigh master.
His thoughts tumbled in his head, making and breaking alliances like
underpants in a dryer without Cling Free.
She grew on him like E. coli, and he was room temperature Canadian
She had a deep throaty genuine laugh like that sound a dog makes just
before he throws up.
Her vocabulary was as bad, as, like, whatever.
From the attic came an unearthly howl. The whole scene had an eerie
surreal quality, like when you’re on vacation in another city and
Jeopardy comes on at 7 pm instead of 7:30.
Her hair glistened in the rain like nose hair after a sneeze.
The hailstones leapt up off the pavement, just like maggots when you fry them in hot
He fell for her like his heart was a mob informant and she was the east river.
Even in his last years, grandpappy had a mind like a steel trap, only one that had been
left out so long, it had rusted shut.
The plan was simple like my brother-in-law Phil. But unlike Phil, this plan just might
He was as lame as a duck. Not the metaphorical lame duck, but a real duck that was
actually lame, maybe from stepping on a landmine or something.
The ballerina rose gracefully en pointe and extended one slender leg behind her, like a
dog at a fire hydrant.
It was an American tradition, like fathers chasing kids with power tools.
It hurt the way your tongue hurts after you accidentally staple it to the wall.
C. Symbolism:
A symbol is an object that stands for something
larger than itself. It means both what it is and
something more.
Example: A dove is both a bird and a symbol of
III. Sound Devices
Purpose: Used to convey tone or mood in a poem by determining
the rhythm of the piece.
1. Alliteration: The repetition of the initial (first)
sound in a series of words in a line of verse.
It helps form the pattern of poetry.
The fair breeze blew, the white foam flew.
The day of his death was a dark cold day.
2. Assonance:
The repetition of the same vowel sounds in a line of verse, creating partial or
internal rhyme.
Time out of mind
Free and easy
3. Consonance:
The repetition of a final consonant sound in a line of verse. The vowel sounds that
precede them are usually different.
“first and last”
“hill and dale”
4. Dissonance:
A series of harsh consonant sounds in a line of verse. This is also known
as cacophony.
“All day cars mooed and shrieked
Hollered and bellowed and wept”
5. Euphony:
A pleasant musical quality produced by a series of vowel sounds in a line
of verse. Also known as vowel melody.
“And the words hung hushed in their long white dream
By the ghostly, glimmering, ice-blue stream.”
6. Onomatopoeia:
The use of a word to represent or to imitate natural sounds.
Examples: clang, buzz, pop, fizz, sizzle, hiss
IV.Formal Devices
1. Stanza: A regular combination of 2 or more lines in a poem.
2. Couplet: A 2-line stanza forming a rhymed pair. The lines usually
have the same number of feet or beats.
3. Tercet: A stanza of 3 lines; most common meter is
iambic pentameter.
4. Quatrain: A stanza of 4 lines with a variety of rhyme
schemes and metrical patterns. Rhyme scheme is
typically abba
5. Ballad Stanza: A quatrain made up of 2nd and 4th lines
that rhyme.
Rhyme scheme is abcb, iambic tetrameter alternating
with iambic trimeter.
Example of a Ballad Stanza:
“Rime of the Ancient Mariner”
/ U
About, about in reel and rout (4)
/ U /
The death-fires danced at night; (3)
U / U / U / U /
The water, like a witch’s oils (4)
U / U
Burnt green and blue and white (3)
6. Sonnets
A. Italian/Petrarchan Sonnet
B. Shakespearean/English Sonnet
*All sonnets have 14 lines
Italian/Petrarchan Sonnet:
•Consists of an octave (8 lines) and a sestet (6 lines)
•Rhyme scheme for the octave (also known as an octet) is
abba abba
•Rhyme scheme for the sestet is cde cde or cdc dcd
•Octave presents an idea, story, doubt, picture or problem
•Sestet provides a reflection, answer or solution to the octave
•Consists of 3 quatrains and a concluding couplet
•Rhyme scheme is typically abab cdcd efef gg
•Couplet is a brief statement to clinch the thought and
give a strong ending
7. Heroic Couplet:
Composed of iambic pentameter lines rhymed in pairs.
Used often by Geoffrey Chaucer in his poem The Canterbury
Tales written in the Middle Ages.
Became best known during the Restoration Period when it was
primarily used by John Dryden and Alexander Pope.
Examples of lines written by Alexander Pope:
/ U / U / U
U /
But when to mischief mortals bend their will,
U / U / U
U /
How soon they find fit instruments of ill!
8. Blank Verse:
Unrhymed lines of iambic pentameter
Shakespeare is the best known writer to have used this form.
9. Meter:
Determined by the regular recurrence of stressed and unstressed syllables in a line
of verse.
Determines the rhythm in a poem.
Each line of verse is made up of feet that are groups of regularly recurring stressed
and unstressed syllables.
When we say a word out loud that has more than one syllable, we always stress one
syllable more than others.
One-syllable words are sometimes stressed and sometimes not. It depends on
whether or not meaning is emphasized.
In a 3-syllable word, the middle syllable is usually stressed.
Most Common Feet in English Verse:
u /
1. Iambic
2. Anapestic
3. Trochaic
4. Dactylic
5. Spondaic
UU /
/ U
/ U U
In a line of verse, the stressed and unstressed syllables form a
pattern. This is called meter.
Example: If a line of verse has 5 iambic feet; that is, it has 5
groups of unstressed and stressed syllables, then it is called
iambic pentameter (pentameter meaning 5 feet).
Example of a line of verse with iambic pentameter:
U / U /
U / U /
U /
They also serve who only stand and wait.
Refers to 3 feet in a line of verse
4 feet
5 feet
6 feet
7 feet
Scansion: This is the term used to describe the
process of determining the metrical pattern in a line of
Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Eater
Had a wife and couldn’t keep her
He put her in a pumpkin shell
And there he kept her very well.
/ U / U
/ U / U
Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Eater
/ U /
/ U /
Had a wife and couldn’t keep her
U / U / U / U
He put her in a pumpkin shell
/ U /
U / U /
And there he kept her very well.
10. Rhythm:
The pleasing or tuneful arrangement of the accented and unaccented syllables;
therefore, the meter determines the rhythm of the poem.
Other factors that affect rhythm:
Vowels: Long vowels slow it down; short vowels speed it up.
Punctuation: Within and at the end of a line slow the rhythm.
Absence of punctuation at the end of a line produces a swifter rhythm. Known
as enjambment or run-on lines.
Caesura: A natural pause that slows the rhythm.
Example: Put out my hand and touched the face of God.
End-stopped line: A line with a grammatical pause at the end.
11. Rhyme: Similarity of sound, usually at the end of lines of verse. Rhyme is
not determined by spelling but rather by pronunciation or sound.
2 Key Concepts:
What is the Physical Structure of a Poem?
It is the diction, sensuous imagery, figurative imagery, symbolism,
sound devices and formal devices.
What is the Developmental Structure of a Poem?
It is the movement of thought an/or emotion through the stanzas
in the poem. Considered to be the idea that is at the centre or at
the heart of the poem.
I. Diction
IV. Formal
Emotion & Idea:
Developmental Structure
III. Sound Devices
II. Imagery:
“The Red Wheelbarrow”
So much depends
a red wheel
glazed with rain
beside the white
William Carlos Williams
 The
Canterbury Tales
 The Sonnets
 John Keats
 Thomas Hardy
 Wilfred Owen
 Sylvia Plath
 Bob Dylan
Pages 200 – 203 in Inside Poetry
 1343—1400 Born into the middle class in
England. Fairly well-off
 Wrote The Canterbury Tales in the period
between 1385—1400. The Tales dominated
his writing during this period. He primarily
used the heroic couplet to write the Tales
(rhymed iambic pentameter). He wrote in
what is known as “The Middle English
Period”, which is between 1066 and 1485.
Subject Matter of the Tales:
 As early as the 3rd century, Christians
travelled to the Holy Land, but in the Middle
Ages, travel became difficult so people
travelled to shrines, usually in their own
country. The people described in the Tales
were travelling to the shrine of Canterbury
where the relics of Thomas A Becket were
kept. He was killed because of his public
opposition to Henry II. This pilgrimage takes
place in the spring (April).
Subject Matter of the Tales:
 30 people are travelling together and as they
travel, they each take a turn telling a tale or
story to entertain the travelers and make
time pass quickly. The Host will judge who
tells the best tale and whoever tells the best
one will be given a supper paid by all at the
inn or tavern where they stop for the night.
Importance of the Tales:
 Very good description of each character so
the Tales are widely representative of both
class and occupation in the Medieval Period.
 Tales reveals the typical dress, speech,
humour, morals, and ideas of that period.
 Chaucer was skilled at describing people
because of his lifelong involvement in
pursuing many different occupations. This
allowed him to travel extensively and meet a
broad cross-section of people and see how
they lived their everyday lives.
Importance of the Dialogue in the Tales:
 Chaucer was very skilled at capturing the
true tone of conversations between people.
There is no other writer until Shakespeare
came along that was as skilled as Chaucer at
writing dialogue.
 Each tale told reveals something about the
storyteller. As the travelers argue back and
forth with each other, they also reveal their
 Effect
of the Tales on Writing in England:
 Poets sought to strive for the diversity and
excellence displayed in Chaucer’s work.
 Brought in a new form – heroic couplet.
 His poems were popular and widely read.
Now, complete questions 1-4 on
pages 201—202, and 1-6 page 203
Contrasting Paragraph for The Parson and The Pardoner
Both the Parson and the Pardoner one’s sins. The Parson has many
positive character traits. He
are representatives of the
works hard and is gentle and
Church, but the similarity
kind. He would even given some
between these two characters
of his own money to his poor
ends here. The Parson is a devout parishioners who were unable to
pay the tithe. He also visited the
Christian who teaches through
sick and never looked for praise
example. He feels that it is his
as his reward. The Pardoner,
however, would pay anything for a
responsibility to carry out the
pardon or a religious relic. The
proper behaviour that he expects Parson was also a humble man
his parishioners to follow. The
and forgave those who committed
a sin. In contrast, the Pardoner
Pardoner, on the other hand,
was proud and vain and placed a
uses the Church to line his own
great deal of importance on his
pockets. He is similar to modern appearance. Both of these
characters are connected to the
day evangelists who make false
Church; however, it is obvious
promises and promote the
that their goals and motivations
purchase of forgiveness for
are different.
The Sonnets
 Review Sonnet Forms
 Review information on Shakespeare’s sonnets
 Complete questions on all sonnets.
“Death, Be Not Proud” (1633 by John Donne p 284)
 Donne wrote poems for a coterie of friends, an elite society,
and circulated them only in manuscripts. “Death” was not
published until two years after his death. Some of his poems
depict a love affair remarkable for the age, perhaps for any
age, and their bawdy conceits are striking even today. To
understand these “metaphysical” poems, as Donne’s style of
startling, extended metaphors (or conceits) came to be
called, you must patiently unravel the intricate comparisons.
His Holy Sonnets, including “Death, be not proud” and
“Batter my heart,” express a piety belied by the love poems,
though they were possibly written around the same time.
“That Time of Year” #73 (1609 by William Shakespeare)
 Readers have long argued the identities of the speaker and
listener in WS’s sonnets, but with so little evidence of his life
no one can prove or disprove that the poems are
autobiographical. The 1609 edition is dedicated “To the onlie
begetter of the insuing sonnets Mr. W.H.,” whose identity has
eluded the most careful scholars. Many candidates have been
suggested, but none have been proven. It is clear that in the
first 126 sonnets an older man addresses a younger man and
urges him to marry. The relationship between these two men
in intimate—some readers think that are sexually intimate,
others do not.
“That Time of Year” (1609 by William Shakespeare)
 CONT. Sonnet 12 personifies death as a reaper, a common peotic
motif (see, for example, Sonnet 116 and John Keats’s “To Autum”).
Sonnet 18 gives us Shakespeare’s version of a conventional poetic
boast: that the poet bestows immortality on his subject.in Sonnet
29 Shakespeare continues lauding the young man. Here, his
friendship refreshes the poet. Sonnet 73 is a fine example of how a
Shakespearean sonnet can develop an idea in successive, related
images, each expressed in a quatrain. In Sonnets 127—152 the
speaker addresses a female persona who has come to be called “the
dark lady” on account of her complexion and bawdy habits. Sonnet
130 satirizes the conventions of love poetry that exaggerate the
beloved’s beauty. The mistress is not necessarily ugly; these terms
seem so negative merely because they are realistic.
“Do Not Go Gentle Into that Good Night” (1952 by Dylan Thomas, p 281-2)
 1914—1953
 Thomas was as sensitive as any poet to aging. He wrote “The Force
The Through the Green Fuse Drives the Flower” when he was just
twenty. At the ripe old age of 39 he said that he was “old, small,
dark, intelligent, and darting-dotting-eyed, balding and toothlessing.” much of his poetry came from his memories of childhood.
Fern Hill was a country farm, a largish, peasant plot with a damp,
dark, creaky house on the side of a hill, rented by an aunt and
uncle. Thomas spent hours there in childhood, and remembered it
as an Edenic farm in “Fern Hill.” Thomas wrote “Do Not Go…”
while watching his father, the once proud and fiery schoolteacher
“who had a violent and quite personal dislike for God,” wither,
grow powerless, then die.
Sight Reading Exercise on John Keats “On First Looking
into Chapman’s Homer” (1816)
 Write a statement identifying the formal structure of the
 What figurative image is being used in line 8?
 What are “the realms of gold” spoken of in the first line?
 What is the “wide expanse” spoken of in line 5?
 What causes the writer to compare his feelings to those of an
astronomer and Cortez?
 Write a brief (one paragraph) discussion of the
developmental structure of this poem.
“The Darkling Thrush” by Thomas Hardy
 This poem was written by Thomas Hardy, a British poet who
lived between 1840—1928. “The Darkling Thrush”, written
in 1900, was published in 1902. He wrote the poem as a
reflection of the sight he sees as he steps outside to look at
the land. Each stanza of the poem is made up of 2 ballad
stanzas with a rhyme scheme of ABAB. Hardy is also well
known for his novels: Jude the Obscure, The Return of the Native,
and Tess of the D’Ubervilles. Hardy’s poetry is often bleak, and
he believed that materialism and scientific advances had a
negative impact on man. The characters in his novels are
often portrayed as being defeated in their struggle against
their physical environment. His writing has a “tragic
Paragraph Analysis on “Dulce et Decorum Est”
 Wilfred Edward Salter Owen (1893–1918) was a British
poet and soldier, and one of the leading poets of WWI. His
shocking, realistic war poetry on the horrors of trenches and
gas warfare was heavily influenced by his friend Siegfried
Sassoon and sat in stark contrast to both the public
perception of war at the time, and to the confidently
patriotic verse written earlier by war poets such as Rupert
Brooke. One of his best-known works—most of which were
published posthumously—is "Dulce et Decorum Est". He
was killed in action at the Battle of the Sambre a week before
the war ended. The telegram from the War Office
announcing his death was delivered to his mother's home as
her town's church bells were ringing in celebration of the
Armistice to end WWI.
Sylvia Plath: Group Essay Writing Assignment
 Read the poems by Sylvia Plath and the information about the
author. In groups, you are to write a poetic analysis essay of a
poem by Sylvia Plath.You will be given both a group mark
and an individual mark on this assignment.Your mark will be
based on the following: group involvement, written work,
assessment by your peers, and daily observations.
 Make sure that you don’t simply list the various devices,
images, etc. used in the poem.You must discuss why they are
effective in conveying Hardy’s purpose. This assignment is to
be submitted in MLA and must be typed. Please submit one
copy per group.You will have three periods to work on this,
and it will not be accepted late.
 Groups will be broken into three groups: “Lady Lazarus”,
“Daddy”, or “Ariel”
Sylvia Plath
Your essay must be organized according to the following
 Paragraph 1: Statement of Hardy’s purpose (thesis)
 Paragraph 2: Discussion of diction
 Paragraph 3: Discussion of sensuous imagery
 Paragraph 4: Discussion of figurative imagery and symbolism
 Paragraph 5: Discussion of sound devices
 Paragraph 6: Discussion of formal devices
 Paragraph 7: Discussion of developmental structure
Bob Dylan
 Read about Bob, listen to the lyrics.
 Discuss in groups what devices he uses in his songs.

AP Language and Composition