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Poetic Structures

Patterns can be large or small Certain words can be brought together by sound or rhyme Whole lines can be tied together at the level of number of sentences; stanzas can create meaning There can be patterns of diction, sound or plot The poem can derive its energy from the freshness of its images, from the play of its grammar, from the rhythm and music of its lines Images show rather than tell One image is sometimes followed by another The order of the images is significant: the second one could be adding to or supplanting the first image Images are related to each other but not mechanically

Ways of Describing Poems

Narrative poems, unlike lyrics, tell a story: plot drives the poem more than feeling Lyric poems can have a narrative element, shown through different time frames within the same poem Some lyric poems are entirely meditative -- nothing happens other than reections and insights

Kinds of lyric poetry

Lyric poems can be classied by

Content: love poems, elegies, prayers, travel poems, pastoral poems are some of the genres of poem. As genres develop, poets allude to and reect on other previous poems of that form. Speech act: the manner in which a poem is expressed, for instance an apology, or a protest, or a narration (dialogues, prayers, apologies, declarations). Sometimes a single poem will have different speech acts within it. Outer form: rhyme, line-width, rhythm, length of the poem, sentences, person, tense, agency

Exploring a Poem

Meaning: we start by summarizing the information and what it says What has been happening before the poem starts? What turbulence set this poem in motion? Division into parts: how stanzas structure the poem, how lines structure the poem. How does each part differ from the others? Is there a climax? What is the emotional curve of the poem? What kinds of games is the poem playing with its readers?

We can look at the language more closely: how many actual sentences does the poem have? How are the lines and sentences broken? What parts of speech predominate? What about the tone of the poem? Who acts and what has agency in the poem? What does the poem NOT do? How would we classify the poem by content or genre? What images stand out and seem new and noteworthy?

William Shakespeare
1564 - 1616

The Bard: playwright, poet, actor, producer Apart from his plays, he wrote about 154 sonnets as well as other poems Sonnets published in 1609 but had been circulated privately before that Dark lady (married, dark-skinned woman) and fair youth (male love object) Sonnets about love, desire, marriage, death, desire, rivalry, poetry

... Love is not love Which alters when it alteration nds, Or bends with the remover to remove: O no! It is an ever-xed mark That looks on tempests and is never shaken.
From Sonnet 116

William Carlos Williams


1883 - 1963


so much depends upon a red wheel barrow glazed with rain water beside the white chickens.
The Red Wheelbarrow

Of English and Puerto Rican lineage A family doctor as well as poet Minimalistic, imagistic poetic style Wanted a fresh American style, not derived from British and European work Everyday objects, a new kind of rhythm

Philip Larkin
1922 - 1985

Middle-class family background Passionate about jazz music From 1955 till his death, University Librarian at the University of Hull Poetry has a conversational, understated style, deals with everyday events and details, small English lives, but also subversive in many ways.

In everyone there sleeps A sense of life lived according to love. To some it means the difference they could make By loving others, but across most it sweeps As all they might have done had they been loved.
from Faith Healing

Robert Frost
1864 - 1963

American poet, wrote about the New England landscape Farmed and taught school and college Used simple, colloquial language, was not radical in his relationship to form although often used free verse

The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep.
From Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening