Com 1102 – Writing about Literature
Dr. J. Parla Palumbo
Genres in Fiction:
Prose, Poetry, Drama
Literary Terms:
How do authors express themselves?
What is Fiction?
➢From the imagination
➢Not true
➢How does fiction differ from nonfiction?
What is Prose?
➢ Ordinary speech
➢ Opposite of poetry
❖Short Story
Types of Prose (1)

Short Story:
an invented prose narrative shorter than
a novel usually dealing with a few
characters and aiming at unity of effect
and often concentrating on the creation
of mood rather than plot
Types of Prose (2)
1. a story with a compact and pointed plot
2. plural usually novellas : a work of fiction
intermediate in length and complexity
between a short story and a novel.
Types of Prose (3)
an invented prose narrative that is usually
long and complex and deals especially with
human experience through a usually
connected sequence of events
What is Poetry?
1 a : metrical writing : verse
b : the productions of a poet : poems
2 writing that formulates a concentrated
imaginative awareness of experience in
language chosen and arranged to create a
specific emotional response through meaning,
sound, and rhythm
➢ Traditional verse
➢ Blank verse
➢ Free verse
➢ Usually – it is meant to be read aloud
Poetry – Blank Verse
➢ Unrhymed verse, specifically unrhymed iambic
pentameter, the preeminent dramatic and
narrative verse form in English. It is also the
standard form for dramatic verse in Italian
and German. Adapted from Greek and Latin
sources, it was introduced in Italy, then in
England, where in the 16th century
➢ William Shakespeare transformed blank verse
into a vehicle for the greatest English dramatic
Types of Poetry
➢Free Verse is a form of Poetry composed of
either rhymed or unrhymed lines that have
no set fixed metrical pattern. The early
20th-century poets were the first to write
what they called “free verse” which allowed
them to break from the formula and rigidity
of traditional poetry
What is Drama?
It is a play – has dialogue between characters
It can incorporate elements of prose
It can incorporate elements of poetry
Usually — It is meant to be acted not read
Literary Terms (1)
Many literary terms describe how an author
communicates his or her ideas. Look through the
text and try to identify some of methods he or she
uses to convey the patterns of ideas you are most
interested in. The following terms will help you
express the methods you see:

characterization: the author’s expression of a
character’s personality through the use of
action, dialogue, thought, or commentary by
the narrator or another character.
Literary Terms (2)

conflict: the struggle within the story.
Character divided against self, character
against character, character against society,
character against nature, character against
God. Without it, there is no story.

dialogue: vocal exchange between two or
more characters. One of the ways in which
plot, character, action, and so forth are
Literary Terms (3)

tone: suggests an attitude toward the subject which is
communicated by the words the author chooses. Part of
the range of tone includes playful, somber, serious,
casual, formal, ironic. Important because it designates
the mood and effect of a work.

point of view: the vantage point from which the author
presents action of the story. Who is telling the story? An
all-knowing author? A voice limited to the views of one
character? The voice and thoughts of one character?
Does the author change point of view in the story? Why?
Point of view is often considered the technical aspect of
fiction which leads the critic most readily into the
problems and meanings of the story.
Literary Terms (4)
➢ imagery: the collection of images within a literary work. Used
to evoke atmosphere, mood, tension. For example, images of
crowded, steaming sidewalks flanking streets choked with lines
of shimmering, smoking cars suggests oppressive heat and all
the psychological tensions that go with it.
➢ symbol: related to imagery. It is something which is itself
yet stands for or means something else. It tends to be more
singular, a bit more fixed than imagery. For example, in
Lessing’s “A Woman on a Roof,” the brief red sun suit
seems to symbolize the woman’s freedom and
independence from externally imposed standards of
COM 1102 (4) (7) Writing About Literature
Dr. J. Parla Palumbo
A sonnet allows the poet to show two
related but differing things to the reader
in order to communicate something
about them. Each of two major types of
sonnets accomplishes this in a
somewhat different way. There are, of
course, other types of sonnets, as well.
We will study the Italian and the English
The Italian or Petrarchan Sonnet
The Italian sonnet is divided into two sections by two
different groups of rhyming sounds. The first 8 lines is
called the octave and rhymes:
The remaining 6 lines is called the sestet and can have
either two or three rhyming sounds, arranged in a
variety of ways:
The exact pattern of sestet rhymes (unlike the octave
pattern) is flexible. In strict practice, the one thing that
is to be avoided in the sestet is ending with a couplet
(dd or ee), as this was never permitted in Italy, and
Petrarch himself (supposedly) never used a couplet
The English (or Shakespearian) Sonnet
The English sonnet has the simplest
and most flexible pattern of all sonnets,
consisting of 3 quatrains of alternating
rhyme and a couplet:
Each quatrain develops a specific idea,
but one closely related to the ideas in
the other quatrains. Not only is the
English sonnet the easiest in terms of
its rhyme scheme, calling for only pairs
of rhyming words rather than groups of
4, but it is the most flexible in terms of
the placement of the volta. Shakespeare
often places the “turn,” as in the Italian,
at L9.
Poetic Form: The Villanelle
The highly structured villanelle is a
nineteen-line poem with two repeating
rhymes and two refrains. The form is
made up of five tercets followed by a
quatrain. The first and third lines of the
opening tercet are repeated alternately
in the last lines of the succeeding
stanzas; then in the final stanza, the
refrain serves as the poem’s two
concluding lines. Using capitals for the
refrains and lowercase letters for the
rhymes, the form could be expressed
as: A1 b A2 / a b A1 / a b A2 / a b A1 / a b
A2 / a b A1 A2.
The villanelle did not start off as a fixed form.
During the Renaissance, the villanella and
villancico (from the Italian villano, or peasant)
were Italian and Spanish dance-songs. French
poets who called their poems “villanelle” did not
follow any specific schemes, rhymes, or
refrains. Rather, the title implied that, like the
Italian and Spanish dance-songs, their poems
spoke of simple, often pastoral or rustic themes.
Regardless of its provenance, the form did not
catch on in France, but it has become
increasingly popular among poets writing in
English. An excellent example of the form is
Dylan Thomas’s “Do not go gentle into that
good night.”
Poetic Form: The Sestina
The sestina is a complex form that achieves its
often spectacular effects through intricate
repetition. The name “troubadour” likely comes
from trobar, which means “to invent or compose
verse.” The troubadours sang their verses
accompanied by music and were quite competitive,
each trying to top the next in wit, as well as
complexity and difficulty of style. Courtly love often
was the theme of the troubadours, and this
emphasis continued as the sestina migrated to Italy,
where Dante and Petrarch practiced the form with
great reverence for Daniel, who, as Petrarch said,
was “the first among all others, great master of
love.” The envoi, sometimes known as the tornada,
must also include the remaining three end-words,
BDF, in the course of the three lines so that all six
recurring words appear in the final three lines. In
place of a rhyme scheme, the sestina relies on endword repetition to effect a sort of rhyme.
The sestina follows a strict pattern of the
repetition of the initial six end-words of the first
stanza through the remaining five six-line
stanzas, culminating in a three-line envoi. The
lines may be of any length, though in its initial
incarnation, the sestina followed a syllabic
restriction. The form is as follows, where each
numeral indicates the stanza position and the
letters represent end-words:
7. (envoi) ECA or ACE
Poetic Form: Epigram
▪ An epigram is a short, pithy saying, usually in verse, often with a
quick, satirical twist at the end. The subject is usually a single
thought or event. The word “epigram” comes from the Greek
epigraphein, meaning “to write on, inscribe,” and originally
referred to the inscriptions written on stone monuments in ancient
Greece. The first-century epigrams of the Roman poet Martial
became the model for the modern epigram.
▪The epigram flourished in sixteenth and seventeenth-century
England thanks to John Donne, Robert Herrick, Ben Jonson,
Alexander Pope, Lord George Byron, and Samuel Taylor Coleridge.
In France, the poet Nicolas Boileau-Despréaux and the philosopher
Voltaire often employed the epigrammatic form. Defining the
epigram by example, Coleridge offered the following:
More recent practitioners include William Butler Yeats, Ezra
Pound, and Ogden Nash, whose poem, “Ice Breaking,” is a very
well-known epigram:
Is dandy,
But liquor
Is quicker
One of the sharpest, wittiest, and oft-quoted epigrammatists is
Oscar Wilde. His works are studded with examples of the
epigram, such as, “I can resist everything except temptation.”
▪What is an Epigram? A dwarfish whole,
Its body brevity, and wit its soul.
▪Another Coleridge epigram demonstrates the wittiness
and bravado usually associated with the form:
Sir, I admit your general rule,
That every poet is a fool,
But you yourself may serve to show it,
That every fool is not a poet.
Poetic Form: Limerick
▪ A popular form in children’s verse, the limerick is often
comical, nonsensical, and sometimes even lewd. The form is
well known to generations of English-speaking readers, by
way of Mother Goose nursery rhymes, first published in 1791.
Composed of five lines, the limerick adheres to a strict rhyme
scheme and bouncy rhythm, making it easy to memorize.
▪ Though the origin of the limerick is not entirely
known, it has an active, if not long, history. Limericks
published in eighteenth-century Mother Goose’s
Melodies are thought to be among the oldest. Poets
quickly adopted the form and published limericks
widely. Among them, Edward Lear’s self-illustrated
Book of Nonsense, from 1846, remains a benchmark.
He preferred the term “nonsense” to “limerick,” and
▪ Typically, the first two lines rhyme with each other, the third
wrote many funny examples, including the following:
and fourth rhyme together, and the fifth line either repeats the
first line or rhymes with it. The limerick’s anapestic rhythm is
There was an Old Man with a beard,
created by an accentual pattern that contains many sets of
Who said, “It is just as I feared!
double weakly-stressed syllables. The pattern can be
Two Owls and a Hen,
illustrated with dashes denoting weak syllables, and backFour Larks and a Wren,
slashes for stresses:
▪ 1) – / – – / – – /
▪ 2) – / – – / – – /
▪ 3) – / – – /
Have all built their nests in my beard!“
▪ Other limericks can be found in the work of Lord
Alfred Tennyson, Rudyard Kipling, Robert Louis
Stevenson, and W.S. Gilbert. A good collection of
limericks can be found in the Penguin Book of
Limericks edited by E. O. Parrott.
▪ 4) – / – – /
▪ 5) – / – – / – – /
Poetic Form: Haiku
▪ A traditional Japanese haiku is a three-line poem with
seventeen syllables, written in a 5/7/5 syllable count. Often
▪ Haiku was traditionally written in the present tense
and focused on associations between images. There
focusing on images from nature, haiku emphasizes simplicity,
was a pause at the end of the first or second line, and
intensity, and directness of expression.
a “season word,” or kigo, specified the time of year.
▪ Haiku began in thirteenth-century Japan as the opening
phrase of renga, an oral poem, generally 100 stanzas long,
which was also composed syllabically. The much shorter
haiku broke away from renga in the sixteenth-century, and
was mastered a century later by Matsuo Basho, who wrote
this classic haiku:
An old pond!
A frog jumps in-The sound of water.
▪ Among the greatest traditional haiku poets are Basho, Yosa
Buson, Kobayashi Issa, and Masaoka Shiki. Modern poets
interested in the form include Robert Hass, Paul Muldoon,
and Anselm Hollo, whose poem “5 & 7 & 5” includes the
following stanza:
round lumps of cells grow
up to love porridge later
become The Supremes
▪ As the form has evolved, many of these rules-including the 5/7/5 practice–have been routinely
broken. However, the philosophy of haiku has been
preserved: the focus on a brief moment in time; a use
of provocative, colorful images; an ability to be read
in one breath; and a sense of sudden enlightenment
and illumination.
▪ This philosophy influenced poet Ezra Pound, who
noted the power of haiku’s brevity and juxtaposed
images. He wrote, “The image itself is speech. The
image is the word beyond formulated language.” The
influence of haiku on Pound is most evident in his
poem “In a Station of the Metro,” which began as a
thirty-line poem, but was eventually pared down to
The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.
▪ (Pronunciation: “guzzle”)
▪ Originally an Arabic verse form dealing with loss
and romantic love, medieval Persian poets
embraced the ghazal, eventually making it their
own. The Persian (Iranian) language is Farsi.
▪ . English-language poets who have composed
in the form include Adrienne Rich, John
Hollander, and Agha Shahid Ali; see Ali’s
“Tonight” and Patricia Smith’s “Hip-Hop
▪ Consisting of syntactically and grammatically
complete couplets, the form also has an intricate
rhyme scheme. Each couplet ends on the same
word or phrase (the radif) and is preceded by the
couplet’s rhyming word (the qafia, which appears
twice in the first couplet).
▪ The last couplet includes a proper name, often of
the poet. In the Persian tradition, each couplet
was of the same meter and length, and the
subject matter included both erotic longing and
religious belief or mysticism.
This Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY-SA-NC
Poetic Form: Elegy
▪ The elegy began as an ancient Greek metrical form and is ▪ Other well-known elegies include “Fugue of Death” by Paul
Celan, written for victims of the Holocaust, and “O Captain!
traditionally written in response to the death of a person
My Captain!” by Walt Whitman, written for President
or group. Though similar in function, the elegy is distinct
Abraham Lincoln.
from the epitaph, ode, and eulogy: the epitaph is very
brief; the ode solely exalts; and the eulogy is most often
▪ Many modern elegies have been written not out of a sense of
written in formal prose.
▪ The elements of a traditional elegy mirror three stages of
loss. First, there is a lament, where the speaker expresses
grief and sorrow, then praise and admiration of the
idealized dead, and finally consolation and solace. These
three stages can be seen in W. H. Auden’s classic “In
Memory of W. B. Yeats,” written for the Irish master,
which includes these stanzas:
personal grief, but rather a broad feeling of loss and
metaphysical sadness. A famous example is the mournful
series of ten poems in Duino Elegies, by German poet Rainer
Maria Rilke. The first poem begins:
If I cried out
who would hear me up there
among the angelic orders?
And suppose one suddenly
With the farming of a verse
Make a vineyard of the curse,
Sing of human unsuccess
In a rapture of distress;
In the deserts of the heart
Let the healing fountain start,
In the prison of his days
Teach the free man how to praise.
took me to his heart
I would shrivel
▪ Other works that can be considered elegiac in the broader
sense are James Merrill’s monumental The Changing Light at
Sandover, Robert Lowell’s “For the Union Dead,” Seamus
Heaney’s The Haw Lantern, and the work of Czeslaw Milosz,
which often laments the modern cruelties he witnessed in
▪ par·o·dy noun ˈper-ə-dē, ˈpa-rə-
▪ :a piece of writing, music, etc., that imitates the style of
someone or something else in an amusing way
▪ :a bad or unfair example of something
▪ plural par·o·dies
▪ Full Definition of PARODY
▪ 1: a literary or musical work in which the style of an
author or work is closely imitated for comic effect or in
▪ First Known Use of PARODY circa 1745
Parody noun
(Concise Encyclopedia)
▪ In literature, a work in which the style of an author is
closely imitated for comic effect or in ridicule. Differing
from both burlesque (by the depth of its technical
penetration) and travesty (which treats dignified
subjects in a trivial manner), parody mercilessly exposes
the tricks of manner and thought of its victim and
therefore cannot be written without a thorough
appreciation of the work it ridicules. Examples date
from as early as ancient Greece and occur in nearly all
literatures and all periods.
▪ 2: a feeble or ridiculous imitation
▪ — pa·rod·ic pə-ˈrä-dik, pa- adjective
▪ — par·o·dis·tic ˌper-ə-ˈdis-tik, ˈpa-rə- adjective
▪ Examples of PARODY
▪ He has a talent for writing parodies.
▪ a writer with a talent for parody
Poetic Form: Ode
▪ “Ode” comes from the Greek aeidein, meaning to sing or chant, and
belongs to the long and varied tradition of lyric poetry. Originally
accompanied by music and dance, and later reserved by the Romantic
poets to convey their strongest sentiments, the ode can be generalized as a
formal address to an event, a person, or a thing not present.
▪ There are three typical types of odes: the Pindaric, Horatian, and
Irregular. The Pindaric is named for the ancient Greek poet Pindar, who is
credited with inventing the ode. Pindaric odes were performed with a
chorus and dancers, and often composed to celebrate athletic victories.
They contain a formal opening, or strophe, of complex metrical structure,
followed by an antistrophe, which mirrors the opening, and an epode, the
final closing section of a different length and composed with a different
metrical structure. The William Wordsworth poem “Ode on Intimations of
Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood” is a very good
example of an English language Pindaric ode. It begins:
There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,
The earth, and every common sight
To me did seem
Apparelled in celestial light,
The glory and the freshness of a dream.
It is not now as it hath been of yore;-Turn wheresoe’er I may,
By night or day,
The things which I have seen I now can see no more.
▪ The Horatian ode, named for the Roman poet Horace, is
generally more tranquil and contemplative than the Pindaric
ode. Less formal, less ceremonious, and better suited to quiet
reading than theatrical production, the Horatian ode typically
uses a regular, recurrent stanza pattern. An example is the Allen
Tate poem “Ode to the Confederate Dead,” excerpted here:
Row after row with strict impunity
The headstones yield their names to the element,
The wind whirrs without recollection;
In the riven troughs the splayed leaves
Pile up, of nature the casual sacrament
To the seasonal eternity of death;
Then driven by the fierce scrutiny
Of heaven to their election in the vast breath,
They sough the rumour of mortality.
▪ The Irregular ode has employed all manner of formal
possibilities, while often retaining the tone and thematic
elements of the classical ode. For example, “Ode on a Grecian
Urn” by John Keats was written based on his experiments with
the sonnet. Other well-known odes include Percy Bysshe
Shelley’s “Ode to the West Wind,” Robert Creeley’s “America,”
Bernadette Mayer’s “Ode on Periods,” and Robert Lowell’s
“Quaker Graveyard in Nantucket.”
▪ Picture poetry, also known as concrete or graphic poetry,
was born in the 1950’s. Eugen Gomringer from
Switzerland, Öyvind Fahlström of Sweden, and Decio
Pignatari from Brazil are all considered to be creators of
this modern form of poetry. Picture poems are fun to
create! They are images (pictures) created out of words
and punctuation marks-drawings made of words.
▪ Web definition – Picture Poem: A poem whose lines are
typographically situated on the page to form a specific
shape or outline which matches the content of the poem.
George Herbert’s “The Altar”, for example, takes the
shape of a Christian altar so that its shape embodies its
Picture poetry can be simple or complex.
How detailed your picture turns out is up
to you! You don’t have to worry about
rhyme, rhythm, or meter. If you are an
artist, this type of poetry was made for
One of the easiest picture poems to
create is a tree poem. See the poem
COM 1102 – Writing About Literature
Dr. J. Parla Palumbo
An “explication” is simply an explanation of how all the elements in a poem work together to achieve the total meaning and effect.
There is no one way to read or interpret a poem. Here are some guidelines to use iIn order to write a meaningful explication/analysis ot
a poem: Here are some guidelines:
Examine the situation in the poem:
Does the poem tell a story? Is it a narrative poem? If so, what events occur?
Does the poem express an emotion or describe a mood?
Poetic voice: Who is the speaker? Is the poet speaking to the reader directly or is the poem told through a fictional “persona”?
To whom is he speaking? Can you trust the speaker?
Tone: What is the speaker’s attitude toward the subject of the poem? What sort of tone of voice seems to be appropriate for
reading the poem out loud? What words, images, or ideas give you a clue to the tone?

Examine the structure of the poem:
Form: Look at the number of lines, their length, their arrangement on the page. How does the form relate to the content? Is it
a traditional form (e.g. sonnet, limerick) or “free form”? Why do you think the poem chose that form for his poem?
Movement: How does the poem develop? Are the images and ideas developed chronologically, by cause and effect, by free
association? Does the poem circle back to where it started, or is the movement from one attitude to a different attitude (e.g.
from despair to hope)?
Syntax: How many sentences are in the poem? Are the sentences simple or complicated? Are the verbs in front of the nouns
instead of in the usual “noun, verb” order? Why?
Punctuation: What kind of punctuation is in the poem? Does the punctuation always coincide with the end of a poetic line? If
so, this is called an end-stopped line. If there is no punctuation at the end of a line and the thought continues into the next
line, this is called enjambment. Is there any punctuation in the middle of a line? Why do you think the poet would want you to
pause halfway through the line?
Title: What does the title mean? How does it relate to the poem itself?

Examine the language of the poem:

Diction or Word Choice: Is the language colloquial, formal, simple, unusual?
Do you know what all the words mean? If not, look them up.
What moods or attitudes are associated with words that stand out for you?
Allusions: Are there any allusions (references) to something outside the poem, such as events or people from history,
mythology, or religion?
Imagery: Look at the figurative language of the poem–metaphors, similes, analogies, personification. How do these images
add to the meaning of the poem or intensify the effect of the poem?
Examine the musical devices in the poem:

Rhyme scheme: Does the rhyme occur in a regular pattern, or irregularly? Is the effect formal, satisfying, musical, funny,
Rhythm or meter: In most languages, there is a pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables in a word or words in a sentence.
In poetry, the variation of stressed and unstressed syllables and words has a rhythmic effect. What is the tonal effect of the
rhythm here?
Other “sound effects”: alliteration, assonance, consonance repetition. What tonal effect do they have here?
Examine the meaning or significance of the poem?

Has the poem created a change in mood for you–or a change in attitude?
How have the technical elements helped the poet create this effect?
Does the poem have significance in terms of past, present, or future societal values or norms?
COM 1102
Dr. JoAnn Parla Palumbo
SOURCE: Reuben, Paul P. “PAL: Appendix F: Elements of Poetry.” PAL: Perspectives in American Literature- A
Research and Reference Guide. URL:
March 18, 2013

William Wordsworth defined poetry as “the
spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings,
recollected in tranquility.”
Poetry is the most condensed and
concentrated form of literature, saying most
in the fewest number of words.
Read a poem more than once. Read it to yourself; Read
it out loud; Read it for fun; Read it for meaning!
Keep a dictionary by you and use it.
Read so as to hear the sounds of the words in
your mind.
Poetry is written to be heard: its meanings
are conveyed through sound as well as
through print. Every word is therefore
important. Always pay careful attention to
what the poem is saying. Practice reading
poems aloud.
Ask yourself the following questions:
Who is the speaker and what is the
What is the central purpose of the
How is the purpose of the poem

The average word has three components
parts: sound, denotation, and connotation.
Sound is the variety of ways words
enhance poems.
Denotation is the dictionary meaning(s) of
the word.

Connotation is what the poem suggests beyond
what it expresses: its overtones of meaning. It
acquires these connotations by its past history
and associations, by the way and the
circumstances in which it has been used.
Figures of speech are another way of adding extra
dimensions to language. Broadly defined, a figure
of speech is any of saying something other than
the ordinary way, and so many rhetoricians have
classified as many as 250 separate figures.
Figurative language is language that cannot be
taken literally
A symbol may be roughly defined as something that
means more than what it is. Image, metaphor, and
symbol shade into each other and are sometimes
difficult to distinguish. In general, however, an image means only what
it is; a metaphor means something other than what it is; and a symbol
means what it is and something more too.
Poetry communicates experience and experience comes to us largely
through the senses (seeing, hearing, smelling, feeling, and touching).
Imagery may be defined as the representation through language of
sense experience.
word image perhaps most often suggests a
mental picture, something seen in the mind’s eye and visual imagery is the most frequently occurring
kind of imagery in poetry. But an image may also
represent a sound; a smell; a taste; a tactile
experience; and an internal sensation.
Metaphor and simile are both used as a means of comparing
things that are essentially unlike; in simile the comparison is
expressed by the use of some word or phrase such as like, as
than, similar to, resembles or seems; in metaphor the
comparison is implied – that is, the figurative term is
substituted for or identified with the literal term.
Synecdoche (the use of the part for the whole) and
metonymy (the use of something closely related for
the thing actually meant) are alike in that both
substitute some significant detail or aspect of an
experience for the experience itself.
Allegory is a narrative or description that has a second meaning
beneath the surface one. Although the surface story or
description may have its own interest, the author’s major
interest is in the ulterior meaning. Allegory has been defined as
an extended metaphor and sometimes as a series of related
Allusion is a reference to something in history or previous
literature, is, like a richly connotative word or a symbol, a
means of suggesting far more that it says. Allusions are a
means of reinforcing the emotion or the ideas of one’s own
work with the emotion or ideas of another work or occasion.
Because they are capable of saying so much in so little, they
are extremely useful to the poet.
Overstatement, or hyperbole, is simply
exaggeration but exaggeration in the
service of truth. Understatement, or saying
less than one means, may exist in what one
says or merely in how one says it Like
paradox, irony has meanings that extend
beyond its use merely as a figure of
A paradox is an apparent contradiction that is nevertheless
true. It may either be a situation or a statement.
The term irony always implies some sort of discrepancy or
incongruity: between what is said and what is meant (verbal
irony), or between appearance and reality, or between
expectation and fulfillment (dramatic irony and irony of
Verbal irony, saying the opposite of what one means, is often
confused with sarcasm and with satire. Sarcasm and satire
both imply ridicule, one on the colloquial level, the other on
the literary level.
The term rhythm refers to any wave like recurrence of
motion or sound. Meter is the kind of rhythm we can
tap our foot to. Metrical language is called verse; non
metrical language is prose.
The foot is the metrical unit by which a line of poetry
is measured; it usually consists of one stressed or
accented ( ‘ ) and one or two unstressed or unaccented
syllables ( – ).
The secondary unit of measurement, the line, is measured by
naming the number of feet in it. A line that ends with a stressed
syllable is said to have a masculine ending and a line that ends
with an extra syllable is said to have a feminine ending. A pause
within a line is called a caesura and is identified by a double
vertical line (||). A line with a pause at its end is called endstopped line, whereas a line that continues without a pause is
called run-on line or enjambment.
The third unit, the stanza, consists of a group of lines whose
metrical pattern is repeated throughout the poem.
The process of measuring verse is referred to as scansion. To
scan a poem we do these three things: 1. we identify the
prevailing meter, 2. we give a metrical name to the number of
feet in a line, and 3. we describe the stanza pattern or rhymescheme.
The six most common metrical patterns, or meters, in poetry
are iambic, anapestic, trochaic, spondaic, pyrrhic (also known
as a dibrach), and dactylic. The basic metrical unit is known as
a foot. A foot is a combination of stressed and unstressed
syllables. A line of poetry may be made up of one foot or 10
feet units. Metrical patterns play an important role in lyric
poetry. Not all poetry is lyrical though, so not every poem
contains a metrical pattern. A poem without meter is referred
to as free verse. All of Shakespeare’s plays are written in
unrhymed iambic pentameter, also known as blank verse. His
sonnets are written in traditional rhymed iambic pentameter.
Tone , in literature, may be defined as the writer’s or speaker’s
attitude toward the subject, the audience, or toward
herself/himself. Almost all the elements of poetry go into
indicating its tone: connotation, imagery, and metaphor; irony
and understatement; rhythm, sentence construction, and formal
pattern. The poet chooses words for sound as well as for
Verbal music is one of the important resources that enable the
poet to do something more than communicate mere information.
Essential elements in all music are repetition and variation.
Words that imitate the
sounds that they describe.
The repetition of initial consonant sounds, as in
“tried and true,” “safe and sound,” “fish and fowl,”
“rhyme and reason,” is
The repetition of vowel sounds, as in “mad as a
hatter,” “time out of mind,” “free and easy,”
“slapdash,” is assonance.
The repetition of final consonant sounds, as in “first
and last,” “odds and ends,” “short and sweet,” “a
stroke of luck,” is consonance.
The combination of assonance and consonance
is rhyme. Rhyme is the repetition of the
accented vowel sound and all succeeding
You are
responsible for
Read Pages 505 – 528 AND 672 – 701 Read the notes on
poetic forms and be prepared
discuss questions or narrative a
after these poems
Introduction to Poetry
pp. 702 – 723
The World is Too Much with Us
Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Shakespearean Sonnet
Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night
Bilingual Sestina
Introduction to the Poetry
Billy Collins (20th C)
Unit on “Poetic Forms”
A. Sonnet
A1. Wordsworth
(Italian Sonnet – 19th C).
A2. Shakespeare
(English sonnet – 17th C)
(English sonnet – 21st C)
B. Villanelle
Thomas (20th C)
C. Sestina
Swinburne (19th C)
Alvarez (20th C)
D. Epigram
Coleridge (19th C)
E. Limerick
Buller (20th C)
F. Haiku
Basho (17th C)
G. Ghazal
Ghalib (19th C)
H Elegy
Jonson (17th C)
I. Ode
Pope (18th C)
J. Parody
Farley (20th C)
K. Picture Poem
McFee (20)
L. Perspective
Mitchell (20th C)
What Is an Epigram?
There was a young lady named Bright
Under Cherry Trees
Ghazal 4
On My First Son
Ode on Solitude
The Lover Not Taken
In Medias Res
Poems are from our text – Meyer – COMPACT Bedford Introduction to
Literature, 12″ ED.

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