Poetry, in many ways, defies definition. Any restrictions would disqualify some works that are, nevertheless, poetry.
The only statement about poetry that we can make with absolute certainty is that good poetry uses what is known as "compressed language." That means that it says a lot but uses few words to do so. Every word is very valuable; the poets make their choices only after much deliberation, and we must understand each word to grasp the meanings of the poems. This word compression is the primary reason that most students claim not to understand poetry. Students who are accustomed to skimming over their lessons once and dashing off correct answers in record time will find that poetry asks much more of us than this. It invites us to calm down, sit still, and think.
Using three short poetry anthologies, this study guide examines more than 40 well-known English-language poems, introducing the student to techniques such as rhyme and meter and various poetic forms such as the sonnet, the villanelle, the ballad, and more.
Through this intense look at poetry's form and elements, students will learn:
Types of Poetry: Narrative poems, lyric poems, dramatic poems.
Elements of Poetry: Lines, stanzas, words, impressions, sounds, rhyme, slant rhyme, sibilant, common meter, poetic foot, iambic tetrameter, iambic trimeter, imagery, analogy, tone.
Forms of Poetry: Petrarchan or Italian sonnet, Shakespearean or English sonnet, octave, sestet, couplet, villanelle, blank verse, haiku, ballad, limerick, terza rima, tercet, parody, Petrarchan conceits, free verse.
Literary Techniques: Enjambment, denotation, connotation, diction, alliteration, assonance, onomatopoeia, theme, poetic license, simile, metaphor, personification, paraphrasing, allusion, explication, narrative, quatrains.
Moral Lessons and Character Values: Decision making and prayer, loving God means we must love our neighbor, inner beauty, materialism, use our time wisely, the Trinity, hypocrisy, grace in weakness, death, peace, serve one another, contentment, authority, and hope.
Activities and Writing Assignments: Research Elihu Burritt. Writing activities include connotations, couplets, senses, feelings, haiku, limerick, parody, sonnet, villanelle, ballad, terza rima, free verse. Paraphrase a poem and then write an explication of the same poem.
Suggestions for Further Reading: We include an in-depth reading list of more poetry by the same author(s) and other books that tie in with, or are similar.
All of the unit lessons are written from a Christian worldview!
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