You may have gotten away with not annotating any words twice in the short fiction annotations, but you will definitely have to double annotate for the poetry annotation. For instance, a word could be a part of a metaphor, but it also could have heavy connotative meaning as well. Therefore, you would want to highlight and annotate it once for the metaphor and another time for the connotation. Then, you could possibly annotate it again for denotative meaning and/or for being an image or an example of jargon, etc. As I said before, words are chosen very carefully in poetry, and every word is packed with much more meaning than in short fiction, resulting in much more possibility for element use by the author for each word. Even pronouns can have heavy meaning.
We, unfortunately, do not have time to move into a study of sound, but that is a very important part of poetry, and you can still use it if you want to. Alliteration is a sound element that you have probably heard of. It is when the beginning of words share similar sounds. For instance, “car,” “queen,” and “cream.” These words also share other sounds, like the “r” sound in “car” and “cream.” That is called consonance, which is when words share consonant sounds. “Queen” and “cream” both share a vowel sound, which is referred to as assonance. Those are three easy ways to assess sound beyond the primary way of connecting words by the way they sound, rhyming, which occurs when a word shares two or more of these similar sounds. Sound is a very important part of poetry.
However, some poets choose to use blank verse or free verse. The difference between those is that the former has no rhyme but keeps the use of meter, which is regularity in the use of syllables. For instance, using five sets of two syllables in every line is called iambic pentameter. The groups of syllables are called iambs. Poetry used to always have meter and rhyme. It began to lose rhyme and keep meter, which was blank verse, which primarily used iambic pentameter. This is what Shakespeare used in his plays. Then, as poets began to experiment heavily with form, they lost both. Poets like Walt Whitman pioneered this type of poetry, and many people argued at first that this was not true poetry. Nowadays no one would make that argument. We are used to thinking of poetry without rhyme and meter.
There are many different poetic forms that use specific types of rhyme and meter, and many poets start with and move into innovating with those forms. For instance, a sonnet is when a poet uses 14 lines, usually iambic pentameter, and has a volta, or a change. Depending on which type of sonnet, the volta and the rhyme scheme changes and sometimes the meter. For instance, the Shakespearean sonnet, called such because of it being used by William Shakespeare, is written in iambic pentameter, which is ten syllables in each line or five groups of iambs (two syllable groups), and has a rhyme pattern of abab–cdcd–efef–gg (each letter represents a rhyming line, specifically an end rhyme). A group of ten lines does not have a name, but that final group of rhyming lines is called a couplet. The couplet is where the volta occurs. In this type of sonnet, the volta sums up the previous ten lines. Another prominent use of the sonnet is called the Petrarchan sonnet, named after the poet Petrarch. It has a group of eight lines called an octet, which rhymes as abba–abba–cdc–dcd. The final six lines is called a sestet and has a range of rhyme schemes. The sestet is where the volta occurs. There are four other sonnet types, and many modern poets will begin with a sonnet and change it in some way. The sonnet is not the only traditional poetic form.
There are countless forms out there. It is national poetry writing month, and I used a form called a tricube (three stanzas containing three lines a piece that all use three syllables a piece) for one, and for another I used amphribrachic trimeter (iambs made of three syllables represents the trimeter and the word amphibrachic just means that I made sure that each line had three feet and the middle syllable was the stressed syllable in each iamb). Your chosen poem may have a form or a specific meter or rhyme scheme, or it may be free verse. See if you can figure out what is happening with form. You may have to Google the poem to figure it out.
Another thing that you can identify for your poem annotation at first is who the speaker is. This is a very important part of the poem and a very important part of understanding the meaning of the poem at times. For instance, the poet could be using a persona. This is when there is a specific speaker used that is obviously not the poet. The Dramatic Monologue is a type of poem that uses a persona, often a flawed one, that makes a speech of some kind. Usually these poems use dramatic irony; the speaker has no idea of how crazy they may sound or how flawed they are. There are also personas used just to help craft a particular meaning. In her poem “A Narrow Fellow in the Grass,” Emily Dickinson uses the persona of a young man who thinks back on a time when he ran into a snake in the woods as a young boy. If the poet is using no clear persona, it doesn’t mean we can just assume it is the poet. Just like with short fiction, we seperate the narrator and the author. However, in the case of poetry, we don’t say “narrator,” we say “speaker.”
Make a list of all of the bold words we covered in these three chapters and find all of the elements in your chosen poem that you can. You may also use the bold words covering poetic form and sound above. Each line should have around five annotations in shorter poems. In longer poems, you should have at least three. You can have much more, but this is the very least you should have.
Poetry can be very difficult to analyze, but if you do like I said when I addressed symbolism and start with each word on a very small scale and work your way out to symbolism and figures of speech and other larger elements, you should be okay. Starting small and moving out will help you make yourself clear because it is even easier to move into incoherence with poetry. Never make the entire poem your subject. Always narrow down to a word at a time and move out to perhaps a line or stanza, or line then stanza. We will talk more about establishing a thesis as we move closer to the narrowed topic and controlling idea assignment.
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