ENG10810 University at Buffalo Elements of Poetry Paper 500 words ,using MLA citation, similarity below 10%Module Six Reading List (Poetry)All readings below from the Nortons Shorter 13th edition textbook except where otherwise noted, and should be read before completing the list of activities, which are listed below the readings. Dr. Blaque / ENG 10 810 / Spring 2019
Module Six Activity List / POETRY
Module Six Reading List (Poetry)
All readings below from the Nortons Shorter 13th edition textbook except where otherwise
noted, and should be read before completing the list of activities, which are listed below the
Elements of Poetry (D2L Handout)
Poetry: Reading, Responding, Writing, pp. 730-733
Ortiz-Cofer: The Changeling, pp. 788-789
Plath: Daddy, pp. 1103-1105
Dunbar: We Wear the Mask, p. 1139
Bontemps: A Black Man Talks of Reaping, pp. 1070
Cullen: Yet Do I Marvel, p. 1071
a. Harlem (A Dream Deferred), p. 1073
b. The Negro Speaks of Rivers, pp. 1074
c. I, Too, p. 1075
9. McKay: If We Must Die, p. 1077
Module Six Assignment List
1. KPL#s 4-6 (see D2L for instruction sheet and due date)
Blaque / ENG 10 810 / Spring 2019 / Poetry
Elements of Poetry
An allegory is a whole world of symbols. Within a narrative form, which can be either in prose or
verse, an allegory tells a story that can be read symbolically. You may have encountered The Faerie
Queen by Edmund Spenser, or a short story by Nathaniel Hawthorne such as Rappacinis Daughter,
or maybe youve heard that The Wizard of Oz was originally an allegory. Interpreting an allegory is
complicated because you need to be aware of what each symbol in the narrative refers to. Allegories
thus reinforce symbolic meaning, but can also be appreciated as good stories regardless of their
Alliteration occurs when the initial sounds of a word, beginning either with a consonant or a vowel,
are repeated in close succession.
??Athena and Apollo
??Nate never knows
??People who pen poetry
Note that the words only have to be close to one another: Alliteration that repeats and attempts to
connect a number of words is little more than a tongue-twister.
The function of alliteration, like rhyme, might be to accentuate the beauty of language in a given
context, or to unite words or concepts through a kind of repetition. Alliteration, like rhyme, can
follow specific patterns. Sometimes the consonants arent always the initial ones, but they are
generally the stressed syllables. Alliteration is less common than rhyme, but because it is less
common, it can call our attention to a word or line in a poem that might not have the same emphasis
If alliteration occurs at the beginning of a word and rhyme at the end, assonance takes the middle
territory. Assonance occurs when the vowel sound within a word matches the same sound in a nearby
word, but the surrounding consonant sounds are different. Tune and June are rhymes; tune and
food are assonant. The function of assonance is frequently the same as end rhyme or alliteration:
All serve to give a sense of continuity or fluidity to the verse. Assonance might be especially
effective when rhyme is absent: It gives the poet more flexibility, and it is not typically used as part
of a predetermined pattern. Like alliteration, it does not so much determine the structure or form of a
poem; rather, it is more ornamental.
Denotation and Connotation
Denotation is when you mean what you say, literally. Connotation is created when you mean
something else, something that might be initially hidden. The connotative meaning of a word is based
on implication, or shared emotional association with a word. Greasy is a completely innocent word:
Some things, like car engines, need to be greasy. But greasy contains negative associations for most
people, whether they are talking about food or about people. Often there are many words that denote
approximately the same thing, but their connotations are very different. Innocent and genuine both
denote an absence of corruption, but the connotations of the two words are different: innocent is
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often associated with a lack of experience, whereas genuine is not. Connotations are important in
poetry because poets use them to further develop or complicate a poems meaning.
Diction refers to both the choice and the order of words. It has typically been split into vocabulary
and syntax. The basic question to ask about vocabulary is Is it simple or complex? The basic
question to ask about syntax is Is it ordinary or unusual? Taken together, these two elements make
up diction. When we speak of a level of diction, we might be misleading, because its certainly
possible to use plain language in a complicated way, especially in poetry, and its equally possible
to use complicated language in a simple way. It might help to think of diction as a web rather than a
level: Theres typically something deeper than a surface meaning to consider, so poetic diction is, by
Think of an image as a picture or a sculpture, something concrete and representational within a work
of art. Literal images appeal to our sense of realistic perception, like a nineteenth-century landscape
painting that looks just like a photograph. There are also figurative images that appeal to our
imagination, like a twentieth-century modernist portrait that looks only vaguely like a person but that
implies a certain mood.
Literal images saturate Samuel Coleridges poem, Kubla Khan: or, A Vision in a Dream:
So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round:
And here were gardens bright with sinuous rills
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;
And there were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery. (lines 6-11)
A figurative image begins T. S. Eliots famous poem The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock:
Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table.
To see the evening in the way Prufrock describes it requires an imaginative leap: Hes doing much
more than setting the scene and telling us that its nighttime. We are encouraged to see stars, to feel
the unconscious and infinite presence of the universe, but these things are only implied. In either
case, poetic imagery alters or shapes the way we see what the poem is describing.
As a figure of speech, irony refers to a difference between the way something appears and what is
actually true. Part of what makes poetry interesting is its indirectness, its refusal to state something
simply as the way it is. Irony allows us to say something but to mean something else, whether we
are being sarcastic, exaggerating, or understating. A woman might say to her husband ironically, I
never know what youre going to say, when in fact she always knows what he will say. This is
sarcasm, which is one way to achieve irony. Irony is generally more restrained than sarcasm, even
though the effect might be the same. The woman of our example above might simply say,
Interesting, when her husband says something that really isnt interesting. She might not be using
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sarcasm in this case, and she might not even be aware that she is being ironic. A listener who finds
the husband dull would probably understand the irony, though. The key to irony is often the tone,
which is sometimes harder to detect in poetry than in speech.
Closely related to similes, metaphors immediately identify one object or idea with another, in one or
more aspects. The meaning of a poem frequently depends on the success of a metaphor. Like a
simile, a metaphor expands the sense and clarifies the meaning of something. Hes such a pig, you
might say, and the listener wouldnt immediately think, My friend has a porcine boyfriend, but
rather, My friend has a human boyfriend who is (a) a slob, (b) a voracious eater, (c) someone with
crude attitudes or tastes, or (d) a chauvinist. In any case, it would be clear that the speaker wasnt
paying her boyfriend a compliment, but unless she clarifies the metaphor, you might have to ask, In
what sense? English Renaissance poetry is characterized by metaphors that turn into elaborate
conceits, or extended metaphors. Poets like John Donne and William Shakespeare extended their
comparisons brilliantly, with the effect that the reader was dazzled. Contemporary poets tend to be
more economical with their metaphors, but they still use them as one of the chief elements that
distinguishes poetry from less lofty forms of communication.
Meter is the rhythm established by a poem, and it is usually dependent not only on the number of
syllables in a line but also on the way those syllables are accented. This rhythm is often described as
a pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables. The rhythmic unit is often described as a foot; patterns
of feet can be identified and labeled. A foot may be iambic, which follows a pattern of
unstressed/stressed syllables. For example, read aloud: The DOG went WALKing DOWN the
ROAD and BARKED. Because there are five iambs, or feet, this line follows the conventions of
iambic pentameter (pent = five), the common form in Shakespeares time. Stressed syllables are
conventionally labeled with a / mark and unstressed syllables with a U mark.
The basic definition of rhyme is two words that sound alike. The vowel sound of two words is the
same, but the initial consonant sound is different. Rhyme is perhaps the most recognizable
convention of poetry, but its function is often overlooked. Rhyme helps to unify a poem; it also
repeats a sound that links one concept to another, thus helping to determine the structure of a poem.
When two subsequent lines rhyme, it is likely that they are thematically linked, or that the next set of
rhymed lines signifies a slight departure. Especially in modern poetry, for which conventions arent
as rigidly determined as they were during the English Renaissance or in the eighteenth century,
rhyme can indicate a poetic theme or the willingness to structure a subject that seems otherwise
chaotic. Rhyme works closely with meter in this regard. There are varieties of rhyme: internal rhyme
functions within a line of poetry, for example, while the more common end rhyme occurs at the end
of the line and at the end of some other line, usually within the same stanza if not in subsequent lines.
There are true rhymes (bear, care) and slant rhymes (lying, mine). There are also a number of
predetermined rhyme schemes associated with different forms of poetry. Once you have identified a
rhyme scheme, examine it closely to determine (1) how rigid it is, (2) how closely it conforms to a
predetermined rhyme scheme (such as a sestina), and especially (3) what function it serves.
Have you ever noticed how many times your friends say, Its like . . . or Im like . . . ? They
arent always creating similes, but they are attempting to simulate something (often a conversation).
The word like signifies a direct comparison between two things that are alike in a certain way.
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Usually one of the elements of a simile is concrete and the other abstract. My love is like a red, red
rose writes Robert Burns. Hes talking about the roses beauty when its in full bloom (he tells us
that its May in the next line). Love is like a rose is a simpler version of the simile, but its a more
dangerous version. (A black rose? A dead rose in December? The thorns of a rose?) Sometimes
similes force us to consider how the two things being compared are dissimilar, but the relationship
between two dissimilar things can break down easily, so similes must be rendered delicately and
A symbol works two ways: It is something itself, and it also suggests something deeper. It is crucial
to distinguish a symbol from a metaphor: Metaphors are comparisons between two seemingly
dissimilar things; symbols associate two things, but their meaning is both literal and figurative. A
metaphor might read, His life was an oak tree that had just lost its leaves; a symbol might be the
oak tree itself, which would evoke the cycle of death and rebirth through the loss and growth of
leaves. Some symbols have widespread, commonly accepted values that most readers should
recognize: Apple pie suggests innocence or homespun values; ravens signify death; fruit is associated
with sensuality. Yet none of these associations is absolute, and all of them are really determined by
individual cultures and time (would a Chinese reader recognize that apple pie suggests innocence?).
No symbols have absolute meanings, and, by their nature, we cannot read them at face value. Rather
than beginning an inquiry into symbols by asking what they mean, it is better to begin by asking what
they could mean, or what they have meant.
The tone of a poem is roughly equivalent to the mood it creates in the reader. Think of an actor
reading a line such as I could kill you. He can read it in a few different ways: If he thinks the
proper tone is murderous anger, he might scream the line and cause the veins to bulge in his neck. He
might assume the tone of cool power and murmur the line in a low, even voice. Perhaps he does not
mean the words at all and laughs as he says them. Much depends on interpretation, of course, but the
play will give the actor clues about the tone just as a poem gives its readers clues about how to feel
about it. The tone may be based on a number of other conventions that the poem uses, such as meter
or repetition. If you find a poem exhilarating, maybe its because the meter mimics galloping. If you
find a poem depressing, that may be because it contains shadowy imagery. Tone is not in any way
divorced from the other elements of poetry; it is directly dependent on them.
Poetry can be like a recipe. If you were making a cake, you would first mix the dry ingredients
together; then you would cream butter and sugar together, then add eggs, then stir the dry ingredients
in. Why wouldnt you just drop all of the ingredients into a big bowl at the same time and mix?
Youd end up with a lumpy mess, and no one wants a cake, or a poem, to be a lumpy mess. Word
order matterssometimes for clarity of meaning (a solo guitar isnt the same as a guitar solo) and
sometimes for effect (a dying man is roughly the same as a man, dying, but the effect of the
word order matters). There are many different ways to order words and communicate approximately
the same meaning, so readers should always question why poets have chosen a particular order,
whether the choice is conventional or just the opposite.
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