Poetry Intro

Sonnet analysis
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This lesson contains 12 slides, with text slides.

time-iconLesson duration is: 45 min

Items in this lesson

Sonnet analysis

Slide 1 - Slide

  •  Fourteen lines
  •  Three quatrains (abab, cdcd, efef)
  •  One couplet (gg)
  •  The quatrains introduce the problem/themes and explore it.
  •  The volta (break of thought)
  • Iambic pentameter (ten syllables per line, stressed - unstressed)

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Tools for analysing 
  • Form:
    Rhyme scheme
    Stanza division
  • Content:

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Rhyme Scheme

Using the letters of the alphabet to show the rhyme scheme. 
For example: AABB 

The sky is very sunny. (A)

The children are funny. (A)

Under the tree we sit, (B)

But just for a bit. (B)

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Stanza Division

  • A stanza is a group of lines followed by a space.
  • Are the stanzas related to one another? 
The whiskey on your breath
Could make a small boy dizzy;
But I hung on like death:
Such waltzing was not easy.

We romped until the pans
Slid from the kitchen shelf;
My mother’s countenance
Could not unfrown itself.

The hand that held my wrist
Was battered on one knuckle;
At every step you missed
My right ear scraped a buckle.

You beat time on my head
With a palm caked hard by dirt,
Then waltzed me off to bed
Still clinging to your shirt.

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  • A poem always describes a situation: what is going on?
  • Ask the ‘wh-questions’!
  • Once a reader knows the situation, he tries to discover the deeper meaning.
  • You need to read between the lines. 

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  • Like short stories, poems have themes.
  • It is important to find evidence for the theme.
  • This evidence must come from the poem itself.

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Turn/Volta (twist)

Sometimes the poet gives his poem a twist, where the first stanza is about the shining sun and the second stanza is about the darkness. We call this a turn or a volta. Not all poem have this twist. 
Dusk - Rae Armentrout

Spider on the cold expanse
of glass, three stories high
rests intently
and so purely alone.
I’m not like that!

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  • Poems can have a symbolic meaning: a deeper, bigger, universal meaning. 

I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln went down to New Orleans,
  and I’ve seen its muddy bosom turn all golden in the sunset.

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  • A metaphor is a different name for something, often in nice poetic language.
    Example: the golden eye => the sun
    Example: eternal sleep => death
  • Poets may use the words ‘like’ or ‘as’ in a metaphor, to compare.
    Example: He was so pale, he looked like a dead man.

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imagery makes use of particular words that create visual representation of ideas in our minds. The word “imagery” is associated with mental pictures. 

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  • A figure of speech in which a thing, an idea or an animal is given human attributes.

  • For example, when we say, “The sky weeps” we are giving the sky the ability to cry, which is a human quality. Thus, we can say that the sky has been personified in the given sentence.

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