Free Resources for
Students and Teachers of English as a Foreign Language in China - by Paul Sparks
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Types of Poetry:
RHYME: Rhyme is often used at the end of the lines in a poem, although many types of poems don't rhyme at all. Rhyme helps to produce music in a poem which is why most songs rhyme. There are many rhymes in nursery rhymes. Young children enjoy reading and writing rhymes.
BALLAD: A ballad is a simple poem with short verses. It often tells a story about people that you would read about in folk tales. Ballads were told to people long before they were written down. They were about revenge, crime and love. They were often turned into songs.
NARRATIVE POEMS: These tell a story, a particular event or happening and often relate a very long story.
NONSENSE POEMS: These are funny because they are full of strange things that don't usually happen and strange words that have never been seen before the writer invented them.
FREE VERSE:Poetry that doesn't follow any set pattern. It doesn't rhyme and there is no definite beat or rhythm to the sound of the words.
funny rhyming poems of five lines. An example of a limerick from
Similes: In everyday language, we describe things by comparing them with other things. For example:
These comparisons are straightforward and are sometimes called open comparisons. The words "as" or "like" tell us comparisons are being made. The technical name for these comparisons is similes.
Metaphors: We can make comparisons without "as" or "like". For example: "Her gaze was icy."
This is a hidden comparison, and the technical name for it is a metaphor.
We distinguish between literal meanings and metaphorical meanings.
The footpath was
icy. (literal meaning)
We use metaphors all the time in everyday language. Often we are probably not conscious that they are metaphors.
enterprise had a fishy smell.
Many experiences, feelings, and ideas are difficult to express in words. Therefore we try to describe them by using comparisons, such as similes and metaphors.
frequently found in poetry:
Personification: An aspect of metaphor is personification (Latin persona: "character", "person").
In personification, the non-human is identified with the human or given human characteristics.
been good to me."
Personification is very common in poetry.
silently, now the moon"
Analogy: An extended comparison is called an analogy.
These are frequently used in academic writing to assist understanding. For example, the relationships between different European languages are very often described in terms of a family tree, with many languages descending from the ancestral language, Indo-European. In this analogy, languages are born and die like people; they have offspring (usually daughters) and close and distant relations.
The analogy is
useful, but we have to remember that it is only ever an analogy. In
this case, for example, languages are not like people, and the
situation is infinitely more complex than this description suggests.
Summary of Terms
Sounds Used for Special Effects: In poetry, sounds can be used deliberately to achieve certain effects. One way is to repeat a vowel or a consonant so that words or phrases are linked together in sound.
The repetition of
consonants, especially the initial consonant, is known as
Where a vowel is
repeated, it is known as assonance. In this example, the vowels in
sights, hill, and plain are repeated:
In the following
example, the vowels in Sam and like are repeated. The words
themselves are also repeated. This is sometimes called assonance and
The repetition of the last vowel and all the speech sounds following it is called rhyme.
We are very little
Rhythm: English is a very rhythmical language. Rhythm is not only found in poetry.
The rhythm of English speech is produced through the combination of the stressed and unstressed syllables. This is like a beat and is especially easy to distinguish in rap.
Nursery rhymes sound especially rhythmical.
"Humpty / Dumpty / sat on a / wall."
The rhythm produced
by this combination of stressed and unstressed syllables is very
characteristic of spoken English
When Reading Poems: Identify themes and language features for specific texts and support ideas with evidence from poems.
consider: Can you explain what
it is about or what you feel after reading/hearing the poem?