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Introduction to Poetry Poem by Billy Collins, Introduction to Poetry Introduction to Poetry – definitions SAMUEL JOHNSON (from Preface to Shakespeare): The end of writing is to instruct; the end of poetry is to instruct by pleasing. WILLIAM WORDSWORTH (from Preface to Lyrical Ballads): Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility: the emotion is contemplated till, by a species of reaction, the tranquility gradually disappears, and an emotion, kindred to that which was the subject of contemplation, is gradually produced, and does itself actually exist in the mind. Definitions contd. ROBERT FROST (The Letters of Robert Frost to Louis Untermeyer (1963)) : “A poem begins with a lump in the throat, a home-sickness or a love-sickness. It is a reaching-out toward expression; an effort to find fulfillment. A complete poem is one where the emotion has found its thought and the thought has found the words." MERRIAMWEBSTER.COM: Poem: A composition in verse 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 3 a : something likened to poetry especially in beauty of expression b : poetic quality or aspect <the poetry of dance> Definitions contd. Jonathan Culler (from Literary Theory. A Very Short Introduction): language that makes abundant use of figures of speech and language that aims to be powerfully persuasive. Horace via Reaske (The College Writer‟s Guide to the Study of Literature): Horace, who was concerned with the complexities of aesthetic experience, compared poetry to pictures and suggested that both can be superficially arresting or densely compact. What is poetry? -1 Poetry is one of the oldest literatures - oral poetry existed before written literature The Greek root of the word „poetry‟ is poësis, meaning „a making‟ and a „poet‟ is „a maker‟ (English word wright (a maker, a craftsperson) as used in „playwright‟). The word poetry is so venerable that the study of the principles of literature, as well as the study of principles of poetry, is still called poetics by many in the field of English What is poetry? -2 Poetry is incredibly diverse – can‟t discuss all the forms, styles, methods, or principles. Poetry rewards a lot of reading and thinking. For all writers, of all forms, poetry study teaches the possibilities of words (their music, rhythm, sound) and the possibilities of language (the intensity and compression of language, the beauty and ugliness). Words stand bare in poetry. Poetry is nothing to be frightened of - we need to learn ways of reading and understanding it. Ex. reading „across the line‟. How do you recognize a poem? The vast majority of poetry announces itself as poetry by its Length - (relatively short) Visual impression - irregular lines, often divided in stanzas or sections, capitalized first letter of each line. Concentrated, intense language that makes some deliberate sound effects which can involve rhythm, rhyme, or other sounds. Concentrated language effects that seem based on the word and the line for expression (rather than the sentence or the paragraph) Meaning making that often depends on metaphor, symbol, association, surprise, strong description - the reader must take a closer/deeper look. Recognizing a poem - buts Avant garde artists who deliberately question or have questioned the way poetry works. The level of language ranges from slang to the most formal standard English, the subjects include the forbidden, the marginal, the avant garde, the personal, the traditional. Poets, like all artists, have different agendas, just like fiction and drama writers, and their form, content and conscious and unconscious agendas are present and reflect each other. Formal poetry: Form and quasi-form Formal poems follow a fairly strict formula of "versification" - regular rhyme, meter, rhythm and/or division into stanzas. Formal poetry may be the most ancient of all literature - in oral cultures form is an aid to memory – it is now accepted that Homer's Iliad and Odyssey were Greek oral forms with repeating patterns that aided the teller of the tale. Some poets don't write in a strict form, but use some formal devices, such as same-line stanzas, or occasional regular rhyme or rhythm to help organize the look and content of their poetry. We'll call this loose, arbitrary form Quasi-Form. Formal poetry: free and anti-form Most contemporary poets find forms artificial and write in irregular lines, irregular stanzas, with no regular repeating rhythm or rhyme. Instead, their language is sculpted to follow the poet's own taste. We'll refer to these poems as „open form‟ or „free form‟ (also called vers libre ). Finally, some poets write in ways that challenge and confuse the whole idea of form as necessary to poetry. They may do this through parody or ridicule of a form, for example. We'll call this use of form Anti-Form. l(a le af fa ll s) one l iness Gwendolyn Brooks 1917-2000 We real cool. We Left school. We Lurk late. We Strike straight. We Sing sin. We Thin gin. We Jazz June. We Die soon. Subject/theme of a poem Love poem Political poem Metaphysical poem (philosophical) Confessional Poem - Poem of self exploration/revelation Poem reflecting on death or other solemn themes (Elegy) Poem to praise a wedding (Epithalamion) Poem to impart wisdom, learning and aid memory (Proverb) Poems that are discovered in everyday life (found poetry) Puns - poems that depend on word play, humor, cleverness Epigram (short, witty, concise saying) Langston Hughes‟ “Epigram” EPIGRAM Oh, God of dust and rainbows, help us see That without dust the rainbow would not be. Poetic Terms -1 Word - the intensity of words, their strength, music Rhyme: Masculine, Feminine, Compound, Off/near, End, Internal Rhyme scheme, i.e. aa/bb/cc Neologism - making new words or combining words in new forms Assonance - similarities in vowel sounds (seat and meal) Consonance – similarities in consonant sounds (loft, lift and left) Alliteration - combinations of words based on their similarities in consonant sounds (like lilacs lying in lakes) Poetic terms -2 Compression - the use of compact language, often removing unnecessary words Punctuation - including lack of, spaces (pauses), too much Image - an important structural unit, like the scene Description - the way images are made Metaphor/Symbol/Figure - also a basic structural, organizing unit of a poem Internal Consistency Ending - one of the hardest things to accomplish in a poem - where to end? Line – the sentence of a poem Line – the sentences in poetry can be stretched, cut, interrupted, fragmented End-stopped: A line that expresses a complete thought Enjambment: run on lines, run-on verse Metrical or prosodic structure: grouping of syllables that comprise a line into metrical feet of various kinds. Iamb, binary feet with stress of second syllable, Trochee, binary feet with stress on initial syllable Line breaks - where you decide to cut the line, on what word Caesura – break in meaning or rhetorical pause in the middle of a line Stanza – the paragraph of a poem Stanza - consists of a set of lines One-line Couplet Tercet or Triplet Quatrain Quintet or Cinquain Sestet, sextet, sextain Septet Octave (Octet) Nine, Ten line stanza Sonnet (also called a quatorzain or fouteneer) POETIC GENRES ODE a formal celebration of a special event and thus is usually a fairly public and continuous form of expression. A long lyric on a serious theme Example : Ode on a Grecian Urn / John Keats John Keats (1795-1821) Ode on a Grecian Urn 1Thou still unravish'd bride of quietness, 2 Thou foster-child of silence and slow time, 3Sylvan historian, who canst thus express 4 A flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme: 5What leaf-fring'd legend haunts about thy shape 6 Of deities or mortals, or of both, 7 In Tempe or the dales of Arcady? 8 What men or gods are these? What maidens loth? 9What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape? 10 What pipes and timbrels? What wild ecstasy? 11Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard 12 Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on; 13Not to the sensual ear, but, more endear'd, 14 Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone: 15Fair youth, beneath the trees, thou canst not leave 16 Thy song, nor ever can those trees be bare; 17 Bold Lover, never, never canst thou kiss, 18Though winning near the goal yet, do not grieve; 19 She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss, 20 For ever wilt thou love, and she be fair! 21Ah, happy, happy boughs! that cannot shed 22 Your leaves, nor ever bid the Spring adieu; 23And, happy melodist, unwearied, 24 For ever piping songs for ever new; 25More happy love! more happy, happy love! 26 For ever warm and still to be enjoy'd, 27 For ever panting, and for ever young; 28All breathing human passion far above, 29 That leaves a heart high-sorrowful and cloy'd, 30 A burning forehead, and a parching tongue. 31Who are these coming to the sacrifice? 32 To what green altar, O mysterious priest, 33Lead'st thou that heifer lowing at the skies, 34 And all her silken flanks with garlands drest? 35What little town by river or sea shore, 36 Or mountain-built with peaceful citadel, 37 Is emptied of this folk, this pious morn? 38And, little town, thy streets for evermore 39 Will silent be; and not a soul to tell 40 Why thou art desolate, can e'er return. EPIC Is applied to a work that meets the following criteria: it is a long narrative poem on a great and serious subject, elevated in style, and centered on a heroic or quasi-divine figure on whose actions depend the faith of a tribe, a nation, or the human race. Example : Beowulf Example : Paradise Lost / John Milton The Sonnet Comes from the Italian word sonetto „little song‟ and was in use during the Renaissance (14th – 16th centuries). It is a lyric poem containing 14 lines in iambic pentametre with a set rhyme scheme abba abba cde cde – 5 rhymes (structure set by Guittone d‟Arezzo). It is divided into an OCTAVE/OCTET (8 line stanza) which states or develops the proposition and a SESTET (6 line stanza) which contains the solution or resolution. There are also minor breaks between the two quatrains of the octet and the two tercets of the sestet. Traditional subjects include love and faith Kinds of sonnets The Petrarchan (Petrarch, Laura poems, 1304-74) or Miltonic sonnet (where the break can occur in the 8th or 9th line) The English or Shakespearean (1564-1616) sonnet: the form was introduced to England by Sir Thomas Wyatt (1503-42) in the 16th century and came to maturity with Shakespeare who wrote 154 sonnets. Sonnets 1-126 addressed to Mr. W.H. (William Herbert, Earl of Pembroke) and Sonnet (127-154) addressed to the Dark Lady. The rhyme scheme used is abab cdcd efef gg (7 rhymes). The epigrammatic force of the last couplet is very strong – sums up the message or gives it a twist The Spenserian sonnet (1552-99, Amoretti to his fiancee Elizabeth Boyle) has an interlocking rhyme scheme abab bcbc cdcd ee (5 rhymes of the Italian sonnet are rearranged.) Shakespeare’s Sonnet XVIII Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate: Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May, And summer's lease hath all too short a date: Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines, And often is his gold complexion dimmed, And every fair from fair sometime declines, By chance, or nature's changing course untrimmed: But thy eternal summer shall not fade, Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow'st, Nor shall death brag thou wander'st in his shade, When in eternal lines to time thou grow'st, So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see, So long lives this, and this gives life to thee. ELEGY A poem in which the speaker either mourns for someone who has died or contemplates the tragic importance of death. It expresses the poet‟s grief over somebody or something that has been lost. A formal and sustained poem of lament for the death of a particular person. Example : Elegy for a Dead Soldier / Karl Shapiro , Antipater of Sidon, the Destruction of Corinth. BALLAD A brief and usually sad stories told in song, the story is told in compact dramatic scenes, with simple dialogue and concrete imagery, and often a refrain. Example : Sir Patrick Spence , Ballad of Birmingham / Dudley Randall, Lord Randall Lord Randall "O where ha you been, Lord Randal, my son? And where ha you been, my handsome young man?" "I ha been at the greenwood; mother, mak my bed soon, For I'm wearied wi hunting, and fain wad lie down." "An wha met ye there, Lord Randal, my son? And wha met ye there, my handsome young man?" "O I met wi my true-love; mother, mak my bed soon, For I'm wearied wi huntin, and fain wad lie down." "And what did she give you, Lord Randal, My son? And wha did she give you, my handsome young man?" "Eels fried in a pan; mother, mak my bed soon, For I'm wearied wi huntin, and fein wad lie down." "And what gat your leavins, Lord Randal my son? And wha gat your leavins, my handsome young man?" "My hawks and my hounds; mother, mak my bed soon, For I'm wearied wi huntin, and fein wad lie down." "And what becam of them, Lord Randal, my son? And what becam of them, my handsome young man? "They stretched their legs out and died; mother mak my bed soon, For I'm wearied wi huntin, and fain wad lie down." "O I fear you are poisoned, Lord Randal, my son! I fear you are poisoned, my handsome young man!" "O yes, I am poisoned; mother, mak my bed soon, For I'm sick at the heart, and fain wad lie down." "What d'ye leave to your mother, Lord Randal, my son? What d'ye leave to your mother, my handsome young man?" "Four and twenty milk kye; mother, mak my bed soon, For I'm sick at the heart, and I fain wad lie down." "What d'ye leave to your sister, Lord Randal, my son? What d'ye leave to your sister, my handsome young man?" "My gold and my silver; mother mak my bed soon, For I'm sick at the heart, an I fain wad lie down." "What d'ye leave to your brother, Lord Randal, my son? What d'ye leave to your brother, my handsome young man?" "My houses and my lands; mother, mak my bed soon, For I'm sick at the heart, and I fain wad lie down." "What d'ye leave to your true-love, Lord Randal, my son? What d'ye leave to your true-love, my handsome young man?" "I leave her hell and fire; mother mak my bed soon, For I'm sick at the heart, and I fain wad lie down."
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