Table of Contents
The Villanelle.....................................................................2 The Sestina ........................................................................4 The Pantoum.....................................................................6 The Sonnet ........................................................................8 The Ballad .......................................................................10 Blank Verse .....................................................................12 The Heroic Couplet .........................................................14 The Stanza .......................................................................16 The Elegy .........................................................................18 The Pastoral ....................................................................20 The Ode...........................................................................22 Open Forms.....................................................................24 Glossary...........................................................................26 Timeline of Shel Silverstein’s Life ....................................27 Poem Analysis – Whatif by Shel Silverstein ....................28
Cover images from http://www.mdavid.com.au/cartoons/images/rhyme.jpg and http://www.cartoonstock.com/newscartoons/cartoonists/gfo/lowres/gfon304l.jpg
Quick Reference: 19 lines 5 stanzas, each of 3 lines, and a final one of 4 lines First line of first stanza is also last line of second and fourth stanzas Third line of first stanza is also last line of third and fifth stanzas These two lines become the last two lines of the poem Rhyme scheme: a b a
Summarized History: Scholars believe that the villanelle originated from Italian harvest fields, although no evidence of this origin exists. When villanelles become widely known, they were known as a French form. The current form is the work of the French poet named Jean Passerat. When he died in 1602, he left behind many famous poems. The villanelle was extremely popular in his day. The villanelle moved to England in the 1870s, and was made even more popular. Exemplar: Reading Scheme – Wendy Cope Here is Peter. Here is Jane. They like fun. Jane has a big doll. Peter has a ball. Look, Jane, look! Look at the dog! See him run! Here is mummy. She has baked a bun. Here is the milkman. He has come to call. Here is Peter. Here is Jane. They like fun. Go Peter! Go Jane! Come, milkman, come! The milkman likes mummy. The milkman likes them all. Look, Jane, look! Look at the dog! See him run! Here are the curtains. They shut out the sun. Let us peep! On tiptoe Jane! You are small! Here is Peter. Here is Jane. They like fun. I hear a car, Jane. The milkman looks glum. Here is Daddy in his car. Daddy is tall. Look, Jane, look! Look at the dog! See him run! Daddy looks very cross. Has he a gun?
Up milkman! Up milkman! Over the wall! Here is Peter. Here is Jane. They like fun. Look, Jane, look! Look at the dog! See him run! Visual Representation:
Original Poem: Model UN is actually very fun Because there is so much to do. Once I start I don’t know where I have begun. Credentialing is all or none And the first time, we were forced to redo. Model UN is actually very fun. For studying we should have jumped the gun But to the whole process we were new. Once I start I don’t know where I have begun. We probably could have used a shotgun Because the ideas we had were few. Model UN is actually very fun. The conference was at the University of Oregon With our thoughts it was on cue. Once I start I don’t know where I have begun. There were so many activities, to do everything I had to run The only problem was the twelve o’clock curfew. Model UN is actually very fun Once I start I don’t know where I have begun. This poem fits the form of the villanelle with no deviations. It was easy to write.
Quick Reference: 39 lines 6 stanzas of 6 lines each followed by an envoi of three lines All lines are unrhymed The same six end-words must occur in every stanza but in a changing order that follow a set pattern (lexical repetition) Each stanza must follow on the last by taking a reversed pairing of the previous lines The first line of the second stanza must have the same end-word as the last line of the first stanza, and so on The envoi must use all six of the end-words
Summarized History: Arnaut Daniel, the inventor of the sestina, belonged to a group called the troubadours. It was comprised of twelfth-century poets. The troubadours appeared in France in the twelfth century. It is believed that their name originated from the verb trobar, which means “to invent or compose verse.” They were extremely famous, and were celebrated in Europe. The troubadours were court poets – they sang to French nobles. They competed with each other to make the most difficult styles. This style was called the trobar clus. The easier style was called the trobar leu. Exemplar: Sestina - Elizabeth Bishop September rain falls on the house. In the failing light, the old grandmother sits in the kitchen with the child beside the Little Marvel Stove, reading the jokes from the almanac, laughing and talking to hide her tears. She thinks that her equinoctial tears and the rain that beats on the roof of the house were both foretold by the almanac, but only known to a grandmother. The iron kettle sings on the stove. She cuts some bread and says to the child, It's time for tea now; but the child is watching the teakettle's small hard tears dance like mad on the hot black stove, the way the rain must dance on the house. Tidying up, the old grandmother hangs up the clever almanac on its string. Birdlike, the almanac hovers half open above the child, hovers above the old grandmother and her teacup full of dark brown tears. She shivers and says she thinks the house feels chilly, and puts more wood in the stove. It was to be, says the Marvel Stove. I know what I know, says the almanac. With crayons the child draws a rigid house and a winding pathway. Then the child puts in a man with buttons like tears and shows it proudly to the grandmother.
Visual Representation: But secretly, while the grandmother busies herself about the stove, the little moons fall down like tears from between the pages of the almanac into the flower bed the child has carefully placed in the front of the house. Time to plant tears, says the almanac. The grandmother sings to the marvelous stove and the child draws another inscrutable house.
Original Poem: Today I sit here, with a cold Writing this sestina. Why must I have this punishment? Did I do something wrong? Oh, someone tell me Before I go mad. I have learned about sestinas, They seem like a punishment. It is easy to write them wrongly Or at least it seems to me. They make me very mad And I am very cold. Oh, what a punishment; It seems very wrong. I wish this wasn’t happening to me; I might just go mad. Sitting here with a cold Writing this sestina.
What did I do wrong? This shouldn’t be happening to me. At me someone must be mad, Or else I wouldn’t have a cold. I am starting to dislike sestinas Oh what a terrible punishment. Woe is me I am going mad. With a terrible cold I am writing a sestina. I feel I should give punishment To someone who did no wrong. Mad, mad, mad; All of a sudden it’s not so cold. Oh, is this a sestina? I love punishment Even when I did no wrong Now something has happened to me. It feels as if my cold and this sestina are wrong And punishment has driven me mad.
I really didn’t want to write a sestina, as one can see from the above poem. However, learning about sestinas was very interesting. The poem I wrote is an excellent exemplar of a sestina.
Quick Reference: The length is unspecified, but each stanza must be four lines long The first and last lines must be the same The second and fourth lines of the first stanza become the first and third lines of the next stanza The rhyming pattern for each stanza is a b a b The last stanza changes this pattern In the last stanza the unrepeated first and third lines are used in reverse and second and fourth lines
Summarized History: The pantoum is Malaysian in origin. It came into English culture through France, as many other forms of poetry have. The name is derived from the Malayan word pantun and French references to it early in the nineteenth century are to malais pantun. Some poets that used the pantoum are Victor Hugo, Ernest Fouinet, and Charles Baudelaire, in his pantoum called “Harmonie du soir.” Exemplar: The Pantoum – Karen Heywood While building castles in the sand I paused a while and pondered. As I drifted into dreamland From my castles people wandered. I paused a while and pondered What these little creatures were. From my castles people wandered Little ma'ams and little sirs. What these little creatures were Was not quite clear to me. Little ma'ams and little sirs All full of gaiety. Was not quite clear to me I had caused their liberation. All full of gaiety They sprang from imagination. I had caused their liberation As I drifted into dreamland. They sprang from imagination While building castles in the sand.
Original Poem: ISB is quite a school It’s really very small. Many kids don’t think it’s cool But the ninth graders seem really tall. It’s really very small, Only about 300 students or so; But the ninth graders seem really tall And when it’s 2:05 it’s time to go. Only about 300 students or so Every student says they work like a mule. And when it’s 2:05 it’s time to go, ISB is quite a school.
Writing this pantoum was definitely the easiest of the three forms so far, probably because of the unspecified length. Also, the repeating lines make for less use of imagination. My poem could be considered an example of a pantoum; however, it is very short.
Quick Reference: 14 lines, usually iambic Two kinds: Petrarchan and Shakespearean Petrarchan – octave of six lines (ababcdcd) and sestet of six (cdecde) Shakespearean – rhyme scheme is ababcdcdefefgg, final couplet is defining feature
Summarized History: The Petrarchan sonnet is Italian in origin, and the Shakespearean sonnet was developed in England. The Shakespearean sonnet has far more than just surface differences from the Petrarchan sonnet. The basic sonnet’s origin is Sicily, Italy. It took about two hundred years for the sonnet to emerge in England. The Petrarchan sonnet was created by Francesco Petrarca, who lived in Tuscany and was influenced by Dante. In England, Thomas Wyatt changed the Petrarchan sonnet into a modern form. Shakespeare further influenced the sonnet until the Shakespearean form was created. Exemplar: Sonnet: The Poet at Seven – Donald Justice And on the porch, across the upturned chair, The boy would spread a dingy counterpane Against the length and majesty of the rain, And on all fours crawl under it like a bear To lick his wounds in secret, in his lair; And afterwards, in the windy yard again, One hand cocked back, release his paper plane Frail as a mayfly to the faithless air. And summer evenings he would whirl around Faster and faster till the drunken ground Rose up to meet him; sometimes he would squat Among the bent weeds of the vacant lot, Waiting for dusk and someone dear to come And whip him down the street, but gently home.
Visual Representation (Shakespearean Sonnet):
Original Poem: Writing this sonnet is extremely dull It’s similar to a quite boring day. Between every line there is a lull I don’t think poets wrote these with a “Hey!” Oh, without poems I could do so much I could go and eat a very large lunch. But since writing sonnets is such a crutch, Fewer times will my hungry mouth go “crunch.” I envy the day when poems are lost I mean, come on, who needs them anyway? The poems will be gone at a high cost To those who tried to ruin my good day. But I am forced to write poems, no fun, Or else in the grade book I will get none. Obviously, I was very bored when I wrote this sonnet. It fits the form of a Shakespearean sonnet perfectly. Sonnets were actually one of the more interesting poetic forms to learn about because of the wonderful poems written in the form.
Quick Reference: Short narrative, usually arranged in 4-line stanzas Usual meter is first and third lines with iambic tetrameter, and second and fourth lines with iambic trimeter The rhyme scheme is either abab or abcb
Summarized History: The balladeer is one of the least-defined makers of poetry form. In Ireland, he (or she) was often a villager. In England, he was most likely standing beside the court. In America, the ballad became part of the ordinary vocabulary, and the anonymous balladeer vanished from history. The earliest ballad in written form is called Judas and is in a collection in a Cambridge library. It was probably written in the fourteenth or fifteenth century. Ballads had not been documented until the nineteenth century when F.J. Child produced a five-volume archive of ballad versions and alternatives, called The English and Scottish Ballads. The subject of ballads is distinctive; they are almost always written about lost love, supernatural happenings, or recent events. The ballad maker often uses popular and local speech. Exemplar: Bridal Ballad – Edgar Allan Poe The ring is on my hand, And the wreath is on my brow; Satin and jewels grand Are all at my command, And I am happy now. And my lord he loves me well; But, when first he breathed his vow, I felt my bosom swellFor the words rang as a knell, And the voice seemed his who fell In the battle down the dell, And who is happy now. But he spoke to re-assure me, And he kissed my pallid brow, While a reverie came o'er me, And to the church-yard bore me, And I sighed to him before me, Thinking him dead D'Elormie, "Oh, I am happy now!" And thus the words were spoken, And this the plighted vow, And, though my faith be broken, And, though my heart be broken, Here is a ring, as token That I am happy now! Would God I could awaken! For I dream I know not how! And my soul is sorely shaken Lest an evil step be taken,Lest the dead who is forsaken May not be happy now.
Image taken from: http://www.lclark.edu/~ria/ballad.gif Original Poem: One day I lost my brand new bike, Please don’t ask when or how. I needed another for work Else I would be fired. I took a taxi into town To buy another bike. I went to where my money was, Which was, of course, the bank. I was very surprised to see My money was not there. It seemed that the banker took it And went on vacation. I walked back home dejectedly I was most unhappy. But look what I happily found – The bike I’d thought I’d lost! Writing a ballad was fun because I got to tell a story. My ballad doesn’t rhyme, so it’s not perfect.
Quick Reference: Iambic line with ten stresses and five beats It is unrhymed
Summarized History: Blank verse originates from Italian literature, where it is called verse sciolti da rima – verse free from rhyme. There was extreme interest at the time in finding an unrhymed line to depict the classical epic. Italian poets such as Luigi Alamanni and Trissino were already using blank verse for plays, however, their form of blank verse contained many more syllables. The inventor of blank verse in England was Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey. He also helped Thomas Wyatt bring the sonnet into England. Christopher Marlowe stunned audiences with his production of Tamburlaine the Great entirely in blank verse. Shakespeare also chose blank verse for most of his plays. Exemplar: Excerpt from Macbeth – William Shakespeare Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, Creeps in this petty pace from day to day, To the last syllable of recorded time; And all our yesterdays have lighted fools The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle! Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player That struts and frets his hour upon the stage And then is heard no more: it is a tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing. Visual Representation:
10 syllables in each line. Yo.
Original Poem: This is a fine sample of a blank verse It has no meaning but it fits the form. I’m only going to write one more line Because now I’m feeling very lazy. My blank verse poem fits the form perfectly, even though the form is very broad and allows for many variations. My poem, obviously, has no meaning. I liked learning about blank verse because it’s not just a form for poems; it is also used in most of Shakespeare’s plays.
The Heroic Couplet
Quick Reference: Rhyming pair of lines with unspecified poem length The meter is usually iambic pentameter but may also be tetrameter The rhyming scheme is aabbcc, etc. A caesura, or strong pause, is placed after the fifth or sixth syllable
Summarized History: The heroic couplet evolved out of parts of a poem, more specifically, Chaucer’s rhyming couplet. The form took the name “heroic couplet” because of its ability to speak about a high subject matter. By the eighteenth century, the heroic couplet was a widely popular form. It was also used as a witty form, as shown in Samuel Johnson’s The Vanity of Human Wishes. In the Augustan Age, the heroic couplet was an excellent model of the society. Exemplar: Excerpt from Strange Meeting – Wilfred Owen Yet also there encumbered sleepers groaned, Too fast in thought or death to be bestirred. Then, as I probed them, one sprang up, and stared With piteous recognition in fixed eyes, Lifting distressful hands, as if to bless. And by his smile, I knew that sullen hall,By his dead smile I knew we stood in Hell. Visual Representation:
Image taken from: http://www.nhc.rtp.nc.us/images/hunpope3.gif
Original Poem: This is a poem about a great man Who lived in ancient times, long time ago. He did many, many great noble deeds Too bad I don’t know what any of them are. I have heard that he was a splendid man He did everything he could to help out. I only wish I knew his life better So I might know what I’m talking about. My heroic couplet does not rhyme, therefore it is not perfect. However, it is in iambic pentameter and is phrased in couplets. Learning about heroic couplets was neither boring nor fun; instead it was “neutral.”
Quick Reference: Any unit of recurring meter and rhyme A poem with lines of the same length is called an isometric stanza A poem with lines of different length is called a heterometric stanza A loose grouping of lines and paragraphs is called quasi-stanzaic
Summarized History: In Italian, the word “stanza” means room. The stanza in poetry has that figurative purpose because it contains lines of the same subject. By the end of the middle ages, the stanza was becoming more and more interesting to poets. At that time most poets were using heterometric stanzas. Exemplar: Night Song at Amalfi – Sara Teasdale I asked the heaven of stars What I should give my love – It answered me with silence, Silence above. I asked the darkened sea Down where the fishes go – It answered me with silence, Silence below. Oh, I could give him weeping, Or I could give him song – But how can I give silence My whole life long? Visual Representation:
Anything with repeating meter and rhyme. Yo.
Original Poem: Oh, it would make my day For these poems to go away. Why must I suffer? I’m not a duffer. I need to finish this notebook Because my grades have me by a hook. But there is hope so; There are only four more poems to go. As one can see by the above poem, I’m getting tired of writing my own poems. However, the stanza form allowed me to write a poem with more ease than the other forms. It has repeating rhyme, but there is no repeating meter.
Quick Reference: The elegy is a poem which mourns for a dead person, lists his or her virtues, and seeks consolation. Summarized History: The structure of an elegy is much less visible than a form such as a sonnet. The elegy is said to have been coauthored by society, with many people adding to the exquisite form and idea. In traditional elegies, the lamentation is a cultural grief; the mourned person is an exemplar of social virtues, as in Milton’s “Lycidas.” Exemplar: Tears in Sleep – Louise Bogan All night the cocks crew, under a moon like day, And I, in the cage of sleep, on a stranger’s breast, Shed tears, like a task not to be put away – In the false light, false grief in my happy bed, A labor of tears, set against joy’s undoing. I would not wake at your word, I had tears to say. I clung to the bars of the dream and they were said, And pain’s derisive hand had given me rest From the night giving off flames, and the dark renewing. Visual Representation:
Image taken from: http://homepage.mac.com/mseffie/assignments/shalott/art/elegy.jpg Original Poem: It is quite a dreadful tragedy To have had this gracious man pass away. He was a man of few words And even less friends. He helped anyone and everyone Whenever they were in need. Oh, we grieve mournfully For this little-known man. This poem has neither repeating rhyme nor meter. The book did not specify the need for either, therefore my poem is an excellent elegy. Learning about elegies was rather boring because of the sorrowful poems associated with the form.
Quick Reference: The pastoral is a form of poetry which imitates and celebrates the virtues of rural life. Summarized History: Arcadia, a small Greek area in ancient times, developed a pastoral society, and eventually became a model for pastorals. In 1504, Jacopo Sannazzaro published L’Arcadia, making the world realize again that the pastoral was fashionable and visible. By the start of the seventeenth century, the pastoral had become one of the true poetic forms. Throughout the eighteenth century, the pastoral was a constant. However, the Industrial Revolution broke the pastoral in the nineteenth century because, quite simply, there was no more rural life to write about. Exemplar: Midsummer, Tobago – Derek Walcott Broad sun-stoned beaches. White heat. A green river. A bridge, scorched yellow palms from the summer-sleeping house drowsing through August. Days I have held, days I have lost, days that outgrow, like daughters, my harbouring arms.
Image taken from: http://www.isu.edu/~wattron/cole_pastoral.jpg Original Poem: A land to die for. The simple life is the best. Green meadows and white cows Is all that I need. I need not worry about city matters Because I have green meadows and white cows. The simple life is truly the best. A land to die for. Writing this pastoral was actually fun because I thought of the idea of reversing the lines in the two stanzas. Also, looking at my visual representation made writing the poem easier. Learning about pastorals was fun because there were many fun pastorals in the book.
Quick Reference: The ode was a poetic form to flatter and exaggerate heroic and elevated things and people. Summarized History: In ancient times, in the Pindaric ode, athletes were praised, and statesmen were applauded. The Romantic movement solidified the ode’s fame with poets. In the nineteenth century, the ode transited from its old heroic mode and became a form that examined and exalted lyric crisis. It was no longer a ceremonial form, and the sonnet had majorly influenced it. In the twentieth century, the ode became almost a lost form. Exemplar: Miracle Glass Co. – Charles Simic Heavy mirror carried Across the street, I bow to you And to everything that appears in you, Momentarily And never again the same way: This street with its pink sky, Row of gray tenements, A lone dog, Children on rollerskates, Woman buying flowers, Someone looking lost. In you, mirror framed in gold And carried down the street By someone I can’t even see, To whom, too, I bow.
Image taken from: http://www.logoi.com/pastimages/img/hercules_3.jpg Original Poem: Hercules was a much-celebrated man; His accomplishments were great. He saved many people, But why not me? My ode is very short; however, it is very meaningful because it poses a thoughtful question at the end which has multiple meanings. Since my ode does not talk solely about Hercules’ great deeds, it is not a perfect ode. Learning about odes was very neutral because since they are similar to heroic couplets, I skipped through it quickly.
Quick Reference: Open forms are poems that do not fit any standard poetic form. Summarized History: The question “Is form a fiction?” is one that many poets, including Eliot, have tried to answer. In modern times, many poets do not follow any standard poetic forms. Open form poems give poets a chance to express themselves in the way that they choose. Open forms also prove that poetic form is a continuum, and not a finished product. Exemplar: I, Too – Langston Hughes I, too, sing America. I am the darker brother. They send me to eat in the kitchen When company comes, But I laugh, And eat well, And grow strong. Tomorrow, I’ll be at the table When company comes. Nobody’ll dare Say to me, “Eat in the kitchen,” Then. Besides, They’ll see how beautiful I am And be ashamed – I, too, am America.
Image taken from: http://pinker.wjh.harvard.edu/photos/cape_cod/images/blue%20sky%20sailboat.jpg Original Poem: Open. Like the picture above? The sky and ocean seems very open to me. And now I’ll start daydreaming about the sky and ocean. And never finish this open form poem and along with it my poetry notebook.
My open form poem is interesting because the only noticeable form within it is the elongation of the line length as the poem progresses. Learning about open forms was fun because of the huge number of interesting poems written in forms that are not standard.
Alliteration Assonance Blank verse the repetition of consonant sounds, especially at the beginning of the words the repetition of similar vowel sounds in a sentence or line of poetry a line of poetry or prose in unrhymed iambic pentameter (five feet (ten syllable) lines with alternating stress) the personal or emotional associations called up by a word that go beyond its dictionary meaning an exaggeration of the truth
Connotation Hyperbole Imagery
figurative language used to create particular mental images Metaphor an association of two completely different objects as being the same thing Onomatopoeia a word that is formed from sound (i.e. Buzz) Personification giving human characteristics to animals or objects Rhyme Setting Simile Symbolism Specific Tone the matching of final vowel or consonant sounds in two or more words words that establish the time and place of a literary work (its context) a figure of speech invoking a comparison between unlike things using “like,” “as,” or “as though” an object or action in a literary work that means more than itself, that stands for something beyond itself the implied attitude or a writer (or speaker) toward the subject and characters of a work
Timeline of Shel Silverstein’s Life
September 25, 1930 1950s Silverstein is born in Chicago, Illinois Silverstein is in the U.S. military and is stationed in Japan and Korea. He learns to play the guitar and draw cartoons. He draws cartoons for the military newspaper, Stars and Stripes. His musical talents lead him to produce songs such as “A Boy Named Sue” for Johnny Cash and “The Cover of the Rolling Stone” for Dr. Hook. After being introduced to legendary editor Ursula Nordstrom, Silverstein published The Giving Tree and Lafcadio: The Lion Who Shot Back. Silverstein’s first daughter, Shoshanna (Shanna), is born. Silverstein publishes Where the Sidewalk Ends. Its poems and drawings are applauded for their wit and humor. Silverstein publishes A Light in the Attic. It shatters all previous records by lasting an astounding 182 weeks on the New York Times bestsellers list. Silverstein publishes The Missing Piece. Silverstein wins a Grammy Award for Best Children’s Book for Where the Sidewalk Ends. Silverstein’s son, Matthew, is born. Silverstein publishes Falling Up. Silverstein writes a rap version of Shakespeare’s Hamlet for Playboy magazine. Silverstein dies of apparent heart failure. Silverstein’s last book, Runny Babbit: A Billy Sook is published posthumously.
June 30, 1970 1974 -
1982 1984 -
1996 1998 May 1999 2005
Poem Analysis – Whatif by Shel Silverstein
Key – Bold = hard sound, Italic = soft sound
Last night, while I lay thinking here,
The poem starts with a deceptive introduction, setting a soft tone.
some Whatifs crawled inside my ear
This line changes by introducing a hard sound, “crawling,” which brings an idea of intensity.
and pranced and partied all night long
“Pranced” and “partied” are hard sounds, expressing more intensity and action.
and sang their same old Whatif song:
This is another deceptively soft line, setting the reader up for a surprise.
Whatif I'm dumb in school?
“Whatif” is soft, but “dumb” and “school” introduce the series of bad things.
Whatif they've closed the swimming pool? Whatif I get beat up? Whatif there's poison in my cup? Whatif I start to cry? Whatif I get sick and die? Whatif I flunk that test? Whatif green hair grows on my chest? Whatif nobody likes me?
Whatif a bolt of lightning strikes me? Whatif I don't grow talle? Whatif my head starts getting smaller? Whatif the fish won't bite? Whatif the wind tears up my kite? Whatif they start a war? Whatif my parents get divorced? Whatif the bus is late? Whatif my teeth don't grow in straight? Whatif I tear my pants? Whatif I never learn to dance? Everything seems well, and then
This line returns to the misleading soft sounds, again setting the reader up for a surprise.
the nighttime Whatifs strike again!
The conclusion is a mix of sounds, but mostly hard sounds. I believe that “Whatif,” in the midst of bad things, is a soft sound because even though the narrator is afraid of all the bad things, he knows that the Whatifs are just his imagination and are not real.