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The Elements of Poetry

English 12 Honors

Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them. Thoreau

Directions: Following proper MLA format on lined binder paper, hand write (not Word documented) the title of the each poem and
its author. Answer each question legibly and in complete sentences, except for the MC or T/F questions; you may just write the
number and the answer. Poem answers will be checked periodically; whether in class or not, you must complete all poems on the
classs timeline or you will earn a zero on that portion of the assignment.

Write out each word and its definition; must not be not be in complete sentences. These words will appear in matching form on your
Poetry Unit Test alliteration, apostrophes, assonance, caesura (end-stopped), consonance, connotative and denotative meaning, diction,
enjambment, hyperbole, imagery, internal rhyme, irony, figurative and literal language, metaphor, onomatopoeia, oxymoron, paradox,
personification, rhyme, simile, symbol, syntax, tone, understatement, and voice.

What is Poetry?
Ballad of Birmingham (c. 1966) Dudley Randall p. 669
1. What is the tone of the poem?
2. What is the irony of the poem?
3. How does the irony help achieve the purpose of the poem?
4. What is the mothers attitude toward her child participating in a political rally?
A) She fears the violence of the crowd B) She encourages her childs involvement C) She makes the child carry a gun
D) She accompanies the child to church
5. What is the effect of the description of the child in lines 17 20?
A) It shows her sophistication B) It reveals her physical size C) It emphasizes her innocence D) It foreshadows the violence
6. The poem presents the bombing in a factual historical way T or F
7. The mothers and childs interactions is filled with sarcasm T or F

Denotation and Connotation

Cross (c. 1926) Langston Hughes p. 705
1. What different denotations does the title have? What connotations are linked to each of them?
2. The language in this poem, such as old man (1, 3, 9), ma (10), and gonna (11), is plain, and even colloquial. Is it
appropriate to the subject? Why or Why not?

One Art (c. 1976) Elizabeth Bishop p. 709

1. What various denotations of lose and its derivative forms, ie.: lost, losing, etc., are relevant to the context? What connotations
are attached to the separate denotative meanings?
2. What seems to be the purpose of the speaker in the first three tercets (three-line units)?
3. How is the advice given there supported by the personal experiences related in the next two tercets?
4. The concluding quatrain (four-line unit) contains direct address to a person, as well as a command the speaker addresses to
herself. How do the details reveal the real purpose of the poem?
5. What tone is the author trying to convey? Why? Is she successful?
6. Can all kinds of losses be mastered with one art of losing?

Those Winter Sundays (c. 1962) Robert Hayden p. 721
1. What does offices (l. 14) mean?
2. What kind of imagery is central to the poem? How is this imagery related to the emotional concerns of the poem?
3. How do the subsidiary images relate to the central images?
4. From what point in time does the speaker view the subject matter of the poem? What has happened to him in the interval?
5. The phrase the chronic angers of that house is an example of what?
A) hyperbole B) simile C) metaphor D) personification
6. Winter as the setting in the poem symbolizes:
A) bad weather B) Christmas C) a death in the family D) the cold way the speaker has treated his father
7. One of the poems dominant images is:
A) put his clothes on B) I would rise and dress C) Id wake and hear the cold splintering D) Sundays too my father got up early
8. The chronic angers in the house are left ambiguous. T or F

Figurative Language Simile, Metaphor, Personification, Apostrophe

Mind (c. 1963) Richard Wilbur p. 737
1. Write the extended simile in the poem?
2. What is meant by a graceful error and by correct the cave?
3. What is being compared to a senseless wit?
4. State the poets message in 2 to 3 sentences.
5. The speaker of the poem is:
A) a man B) a woman C) a child D) unidentified
6. The word wit in the third line means:
The Elements of Poetry 2017
K. Dean
The Elements of Poetry
English 12 Honors
A) humor B) joke C) intellect D) cleverness
7. The tone of the poem is:
A) somber B) playful C) sympathetic D) fearful
8. The word conclude in the poem means to die. T - F
9. The mind, like the bat, senses what obstacles are in its way. T - F

To His Coy Mistress (c. 1681) Andrew Marvell p. 744

1. What is the speaker urging his sweetheart to do? Why is she being coy?
2. Outline the speakers argument in three sentences that begin with the words: Had (If) l. 9, But l. 21, and Therefore l. 33.
Is his argument valid?
3. In line 24, Marvell speaks of eternity as a vast desert, whereas in Christian theology eternity is usually regarded as the ultimate in
pleasure as unity with God. What is Marvells intention in this image?
4. Explain the figures in l. 22, 24 and 40 and their implications.
5. Is this poem principally about love or about time? If the latter, what might making love represent?
6. What philosophy is the poet advancing here?

Figurative Language Symbol, Allegory

The Road Not Taken (c. 1916) Robert Frost p. 748
1. Does the speaker feel that he has made the wrong choice in taking the road less traveled by? If not, why will he sigh? What
does he regret?
2. Why will the choice between two roads that seem very much alike make such a big difference many years later?
3. What is the tone?

To the Virgins, to Make Much of Times (c. 1648) Robert Herrick p. 756
1. Why does the speaker suggest the audience should gather rose-buds now? Why not wait until a later month (i.e., what may
happen to the flower tomorrow, according to the speaker?)
2. What might rose-buds represent on a more general level of meaning?
3. What are some of the images the poet uses to convey the idea of passing time?
4. What age is the best age according to the speaker? Why is it the best age?
5. What is the possible pun on the word marry in the next to last line?
6. What mistake might the audience make if they lose their prime?

Figurative Language Paradox, Overstatement, Understatement, Irony

Ozymandias (c. 1818) Percy Bysshe Shelley p. 779
1. [S]urvive (7) is a transitive verb with hand and heart as direct objects. Whose hand? Whose heart? What figure of speech
is exemplified in hand and heart?
2. Comment on the irony in the pharaohs words, Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!
3. To whom is Ozymandias referring when he speaks of ye Mighty? Why should they despair?
4. What does the poet mean when he says Nothing besides remains?
5. What is the theme of the poem?
6. What does the poem suggest about the sculptor?
A) He was afraid of Ozymandias B) He knew Ozymandias C) He made fun of Ozymandias D) He was proud of Ozymandias
7. One of the subjects of the poem is:
A) beauty B) political legacy C) war D) greed
8. The words on the pedestal convey Ozymandias:
A) sense of humor B) anger C) arrogance D) tolerance

Meaning and Idea

Loveliest of Trees (c. 1896) A.E. Houseman p. 806
1. How old is the speaker? 20
2. Why do you think he assumes that his life will be 70 years in length? Because that is a normal lifespan
3. What is surprising about the words only and little? 50 is more than double his current age
4. In a sentence, write the philosophy of life this poem presents. Carpe diem

Musical Devices
We Real Cool (c. 1960) Gwendolyn Brooks p. 849
1. Whose voice and opinion come through the poem? The delinquents
2. Why does Brooks put the word We at the end of most lines? What effect does this have on the way you read the poem?
Includes us
3. Do the young boys seem like good or bad people? Would you want to hang with them? Bad
4. Does the poem romanticize sin or criticize it? Criticize it
5. Which of the following is the most accurate description of the speaker in We Real Cool?
A) playground bullies B) striking factory workers C) illegal moonshiners D) urban gang members
6. Which is the best description of the word choice in We Real Cool?
A) informal, colloquial B) intimate, romantic C) formal, impressive D) humorous, clever
The Elements of Poetry 2017
K. Dean
The Elements of Poetry
English 12 Honors
7. The last line contains _______, which occurs when a speaker perceives less than readers do.
A) understatement B) dramatic irony C) sarcasm D) imagery
8. In several lines, Brooks uses _______, which is the repetition of beginning consonant sounds, as in Lurk late, Strike straight,
and Sing sin.
A) internal rhyme B) rhythm C) alliteration D) consonance
9. The reason Brooks uses nonstandard English grammar in We Real Cool is to criticize and ridicule the speakers T or F
10. We Real Cool echoes the rhythm and other musical devices used in rap and hip-hop T or F

Richard Cory (c. 1897) Edwin Arlington Robinson p. 1010
1. What is the message of the poem?
2. What is the ironic contrast at the end of the poem?
3. Richard Cory is an example of a:
A) narrative poem B) tragic poem C) character-driven poem D) all of the choices
4. Who is the narrator of the poem?
A) Edward Arlington Robinson B) The townspeople who envy Richard Cory C) The doctor who realizes that Richard Cory is a
sick man D) All of the choices
5. The phrases imperially slim, gentleman from sole to crown, and he glittered when he walked all give the impression that
Richard Cory is:
A) well-dressed B) a well-to-do citizen of his town C) engaging and pleasant D) viewed as royalty by the citizens
6. Robinson doesnt name the town where the poem takes place because the universal theme applies to all humanity T or F
7. Money cant buy happiness is a possible theme of the poem T or F

My Papas Waltz (c. 1948) Theodore Roethke p. 1011

1. Consider the two figures of speech in the poem: the simile of hung on like death (l. 3) and the metaphor of waltzing
throughout the poem. What do they add to the story line of the poem? ? Imagine, for instance, if the title were changed to
My Papa or Dancing with My Father.
2. How do you interpret the lines My mothers countenance / Could not unfrown itself (ll.7-8)? Is she angry? jealous? worried?
frightened? disapproving? Why doesnt she take action and step in?
3. What do you think this father did for a living? Why was only one of his knuckles battered?
4. Some interpret this poem to be about an abusive father-son relationship, while others read it quite differently. How do you
interpret it? Use textual evidence from the poem to explain your reading.

Not Waving but Drowning (c. 1957) Stevie Smith p. 1017

1. Is the drowned man accusing his companions of letting him down?
2. In l. 7, are the mans companions attempting to justify themselves?
3. In l. 11, what is the drowned man saying about his life?
4. What words best describe the tone of the poem?
A) like a nursery rhyme or old ballad B) gothic, eerie C) cold and dark D) all of the above
5. Lines 9 and 10 of the poem illustrate which literary device?
A) Irony B) Onomatopoeia C) Atmosphere D) Hyperbole
6. The theme of the poem might best be described as:
A) isolation B) tension between appearance and reality C) betrayal of language D) all of the choices
7. The poem is in the form of a conversation between a dead man and his friends T or F
8. The repetition of the words not waving but drowning emphasizes the theme of misunderstanding in the poem T or F

Poems for Further Reading

Im Nobody (c. 1861) Emily Dickinson

Im Nobody! Who are you?

Are you Nobody Too?
Then theres a pair of us!
Dont tell! they'd advertise you know!

How dreary to be Somebody!

How public like a Frog
To tell ones name the livelong June
To an admiring Bog!

1. How does society commonly treat its Nobodies?

2. Why do you think the speaker is worried that theyd advertise (l. 4)?
3. What are the advantages of being a Nobody?
4. In the second stanza, the speaker uses a simile to express her contempt for a certain type of behavior. What is that behavior
AND how does the simile reinforce her point?
5. Is there any irony in the Somebodies behavior?

The Elements of Poetry 2017

K. Dean
The Elements of Poetry
English 12 Honors
6. What is the tone?
If (c. 1895) Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you

Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;

If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings

And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on";

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,

Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son!

1. What is the theme or main idea of each stanza?

2. What is the theme or main idea of the poem?
3. Do you agree with what is written? Why or why not?

All writing assignments are to be typed, MLA format, font 11 or 12, DS, hard copy brought to class

Where Im From
See separate handout for instructions

Essay: Mr. Z See separate handout for instructions. Additionally, follow in class instructions and remember to double spaced in a font of
11 or 12. All drafts are to be turned in. Final draft stapled in the upper left hand corner on top of all other work.

The Elements of Poetry 2017

K. Dean