Cara Neri Lyric Poetry Unit What Lyric Poetry Is A lyric poem is the most direct statement of a poet’s deepest feeling; it grows out of his or her willingness to express an experience that was amazing or sorrowful. The lyric was originally written to be sung and one of its characteristics is its melody, or its singing quality. Since there is no longer a musical instrument to accompany poetry, the sounds and rhythms of language now accomplish this musical quality. Plenty of strong and beautiful poems are made from everyday language. You sometimes hear this language in conversation, when people are talking their best. Poems hide in things you and others say and write. Lyric poetry can be any one of the following four types: • A poetic personal statement made from the poet (or persona) to another person. (Sylvia Plath’s “Daddy”) • A poetic personal statement made from the poet to no one in particular. Written in the first person. (Simon J. Ortiz’s: “My Father’s Song) • A poetic personal statement made from the poet to someone who cannot hear him (an apostrophe). An example would be “Sea-Fever” by John Masefield. • A poetic personal observation made to no one in particular, lacking a first-person voice. (“Dreams” by Langston Hughes and “Winter” by William Shakespeare) 1. The word lyric is derived from the Greek word “lyre.” A lyre is an instrument which looks like a hand-held harp. The Greek lyric was meant to be sung aloud, not read. With the Romans, the lyric evolved to oral with no music. 2. May have conflict and a sense of resolution, but lack plot 3. Spontaneous, conversational, real words 4. Quite simple, yet very moving 5. Emotional response, description of a passionate moment, reflection 6. It may have a pattern (such a rhyme, blank verse) or it may not Lyric Poetry is NOT: 1. Narrative poetry, which tells a story with characters, exposition, plot, conflict, and resolution (example: The Odyssey) 2. Complex constructions with elaborate, intellectual conceits (elaborate comparisons, such as equating a loved one with the graces and beauties of the world) For example: your eyes are as lovely as twilight’s first star 3. Hollow words written simply to be “poetic” (For example, “the whimsical watering in my soul”) 4. Contain trite language- clichés like: “I am dead inside,” “I still carry you in my heart,” “the only and only,” etc. 5. Rhymed at any cost: good poets don’t sacrifice real insight or graceful phrasing to come up with rhymes- this may make serious feelings sound foolish and inauthentic 6. Filled with archaic words and poetic inversions- don’t try to sound overly poetical because it makes the poem end up sounding silly 7. Misuse allusions and mythology- exotic words and Greek gods are not dragged into poems as decorative elements 8. Intended to impress with extensive vocabulary Mini- Lesson Ideas The Found Poem or “Cut-Up” (Beginning of the Study) A “found poem” mini-lesson shows students how language can work on many different levels and in many different ways. Many students may still think they must use complex diction and fancy images to create lyric poetry. The idea of the found poem would be to show students they can create poetry using ordinary language and make incredible poems. Instructors have many different ways of teaching a found poem. Some suggest students use the text of stories and novels they read (Burke 193). Another suggestion may be for students to keep a collection of words they like or find interesting (based on sound, meaning, etc.) The teacher can then give the students 2 pages from a newspaper or magazine. The students will then cut out words or phrases they find interesting. The next step is for the students to create a poem based on the words and phrases they have in front of them. They should change the tense of verbs and add in words to make the poem make sense, but mainly use their found words to construct a poem. These poems are also mainly fun for students to write. After completing them, the students can begin creating lyric poetry of their own for a formal lyric poetry assignment. Using Figurative Language (Before Drafting) A. Create effective similes- striking and apt comparisons- by filling in the blanks in the following sentences. Your solution might be a single word or a short phrase, or it might be a lengthier, more complex description: 1. In his rage my father would bang on the wall like a __________________. 2. Among her new in-laws, the young wife was as nervous as ______________. 3. I paced the room as restless as a ____________________________________. 4. Like a _____________________, his smile suddenly collapsed. 5. It was the old sycamore in the front yard, swaying like a _________________. B. Now create evocative images- strong descriptive language- to complete these sentences. 1. I loved the _____________ of the wash on the line in the summer morning. 2. I was afraid of his ______________, his drunken, ungainly walk. 3. I will not forget the ____________ of your lips, your skin’s ____________, or the ____________ of your eyes. 4. She wished to draw me deeper into the _______________ of her life. C. In three or four sentences that sparkle with linguistic invention, describe: 1. a rundown house 2. an old table, desk bicycle, car, or truck 3. a particular potted plant 4. someone working in a kitchen or garden 5. a small incident seen in the street or in a store Make your descriptions come alive using precise charged language. The goal, of course, is to describe each item accurately, vividly and engagingly.
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