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Annotating Poetry

Annotating is the act of marking up a text to bring attention to words,


phrases, and structure that may have some importance to the overall
mood or theme of a poem.

Steps to Annotate a Poem


1. Initial reading of the poem. Write any questions that pop into your head
while doing the initial reading.
2. Discover and mark rhyme scheme using a new letter for each end rhyme
within the poem.
3. Identify figurative language used within the poem. Think about the literal
meaning of each figurative device. Use the Poetry Device Scavenger Hunt as
a reference tool.
4. Identify sound devices such as alliteration, assonance, and consonance. How
does it impact the text?
5. Identify text that is repeated. Is there any reason the author would repeat
the text?
6. Look closely at punctuation. Does it reveal anything about the speaker of the
poem? (Example: Does it make them seem rambling, confident, nervous?)
7. Circle any words that are impactful or interesting. Determine connotative
meaning. Are their any patterns? What does it reveal about the speakers
attitude towards the topic?
8. Reread the poem. If you are still having a hard time understanding the
poem, repeat the annotation process!

Questions you should be able to answer after annotating a


poem:
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.

What is the theme of the poem?


What kind of strategies does the author use to point out the theme?
What is the mood of the poem?
What kind of strategies does the author use to make the mood clear?
How does the figurative language impact the poem as a whole?
How does the punctuation/number of syllables/ rhyme scheme impact the
poem as a whole?

Using context to understand vocabulary


Highlight the word that best fits for questions 1-5.
1. What does the word "blanched" mean (8)?
a) Whitened
b) Withered
c) Delicious
d) Darkened
2. What's the definition of the word "tremulous"?
a) Skinny
b) Ugly
c) Smelly
d) Shaky
3. What's a girdle?
a) A large marsupial
b) A nasty virus
c) A kind of belt
d) A round hat
4. What does the word "shingles" refer to in line 28?
a) Rocks
b) Gloves
c) Trees
d) Locks
5. What's a more common modern word that means the same thing as "certitude"?
a) Certificate
b) Certainty
c) Cereal
d) Fig newton

Dover Beach
BY MATTHEW ARNOLD
The sea is calm tonight.
A6
The tide is full, the moon lies fair
B8
Upon the straits; on the French coast the light
A 10
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England
stand,
C 10
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.
D 11
Come to the window, sweet is the night-air! B
10
Only, from the long line of spray
D8
Where the sea meets the moon-blanched
land,
C8
Listen! you hear the grating roar
E8
Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and
fling,
F 10
At their return, up the high strand,
C8
Begin, and cease, and then again begin, G 10
With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
F9
The eternal note of sadness in.
G9
Sophocles long ago
Heard it on the gean, and it brought
Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow
Of human misery; we
Find also in the sound a thought,
Hearing it by this distant northern sea.

H
I
H
J
I
J

The Sea of Faith


K
Was once, too, at the full, and round earths
shore
E
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.
L
But now I only hear
M
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
E
Retreating, to the breath
O
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
M
And naked shingles of the world.
P

White cliffs of Dover

Consonance?
Potential personification

Sophocles- Greek philosopher?


Cant remember where I heard this
before

Reference to other piece of


literature?
Girdle- article of clothing
Personification (or just imagery) of
sea of faith

Ah, love, let us be true


To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and
flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.

Q
R
R
Q
A
S
S

Love?

A
A

Observations:
This poem has an odd rhyme scheme,
because it switches back and forth
between rhyming and not almost
every stanza. An example of this is in
the third stanza, where you have two
rhymes broken up across the stanza
by many other lines that dont rhyme.
Narrator seems almost uncaring to
me, like theyve given up on
something.
Poem contains a lot of imagery.