Friday, May 25, 2012

Introduction to Poetry

What is Poetry?

Poetry is a form of literature that is written in a certain pattern using sound devices, imagery, and figurative language. This kind of literature is directed to our intelligence, emotion, senses and imagination.

To explain any poem, you should divide it into: form and content. 
  • Content: 1- Intention   2- General meaning   3- Detailed meaning    4- The tone.
  • Form:  1- Imagery  2- Sound devices   3- Diction   


  1. Intention: It is the theme of the poem. It is the poet's view point and ideas within the poem. The theme may be personal, related to the poet's experience. It may also be general, related to a universal issue.
  2. General meaning: It is the main idea and summary of the poem.
  3. Detailed meaning: It is the explanation of the whole poem line by line.
  4. The tone: It is the general atmosphere of the poem. It is related to the poet's psychological state during the writing of the poem. It could be sad, happy, conflict, or mysterious.


1- Figures of speech "Imagery": 
  • The image is a picture made out of words, creating a comparison between two different factors.
  • An imagery is also a part of the poet's imagination in such a way to appeal to the reader's imagination.
  • You should analyse the elements of any image and give the hidden purpose for its usage within the poem. It is so important to show the importance of each image through the poem.
  • There are various kinds of images:
1- Simile: To compare between two dissimilar things, to make them more similar, using words like; as, like, resemble, than, seem. Ex: "I wonder lonely as a cloud." The poet compares himself to a cloud.
2- Metaphor: It is a comparison without using "as or like". Ex. "He roars". The poet compares himself to a lion. It shows the poet's strength and resistance. 
3- Personification: To give an abstract idea or an object human characteristics. The poet could compare the moon to a lady or make the moon talks or cries. Eg: "And saw the ruddy moon lean over a hedge / On the monstrous anger of the son.
4- Apstrophe: When the poet addresses or talks to the moon or any element of the nature. Ex: O! moon - O! sea!!
2- Sound devices:
  • They are the instruments that create music within the poem. They are the obvious factors that distinguish poetry from any other literary work. 
  • The sources of music in the poem: (Rhyme scheme - Refrain - Alliteration - Assonance - Onomatopoeia - Consonance - Rhythm).
1- Rhyme scheme: It is the repetition of the same sounds at the end of the poetic lines. The rhyme could be regular or irregular.
2- Refrain: It is the repetition of a phrase at the end of each stanza in the poem. It creates inner music. It also enhances and strengthens the basic idea of the poem by attracting the reader's attention.
3- Alliteration: It is the similarity between internal consonants within the same line. N.P. We deal with sounds, not letters. "we - wealth - want" / "'sad - sound".
4- Assonance:  It is the repeition of the vowel sound in two words or more within the same line. 
5- Onomatopoeia: It is the sound of word's echo. It refers to the real sound of the objects' movement. Ex. "click - crack - hiss - posh - cling"
6- Rhythm: "inner music in each line" It is the whole musical product because of all the previous factors. It could be slow or fast. It reflects the atmosphere or the state of the poet. Meter is the kind of rhythm we can feel. Metrical language is called verse. Non-metrical language is called prose.
7-  Consonance: It is the repetition of the final consonant in two words or more in the same line. Ex. "dark - black - make".
3- Diction: 
  • It is the choice of words and their use in the poem. We should analyse every word even difficult or easy. All words should have relation with each other.It always discuss prominent words, paradox, antithesis, conjunctions, rhetorical questions, repetition, syntax.  
- Connotation: is what any word suggests.
- Denotation: is the dictionary meaning of words.
  • Poets use the connotation of any word to give the readers the chance to understand and interpret the poem in different ways.
1- Illustrations: They are words that illustrate and clarify one idea or theme.
2- Antithesis: It is two contrasting words.
3- Hyperbole: It is a phrase that has an exaggeration in one aspect.
4- Pun: It means that the poet could have a word with tow different meanings. Ex. The word "labour" has two meanings: "pregnant woman - hard work".
  • The language of the poem could be description or narrative. 
Kinds of poem:
  1. The Lyric: It is a brief musical poem that holds one idea. It usually deals with happy themes and expresses emotions.
  2. The ballad: It is along poem that tells a story, organized into stanzas. It is narrative. "Stanza is a part of the poem that consists of certain lines."
  3. The sonnet: It is a poem that consists of fourteen lines. It has 3 kinds "Italian or Petrarchan sonnet - Spenserian sonnet - Shakespearean sonnet".