Poetry

Poetry 

Writing that combines multiple uses of language, especially meter, form, figurative language, and rhyme.

Examples

From Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare:

“Come, gentle night; come, loving, black-browed night;
Give me my Romeo; and, when I shall die,
Take him and cut him out in little stars,
And he will make the face of heaven so fine
That all the world will be in love with night...”

By Ted Kooser:

Birthday Poem

Just past dawn, the sun stands
with its heavy red head
in a black stanchion of trees,
waiting for someone to come
with a bucket
for the foamy white light,
and then the long day in the pasture.
I too spend my days grazing,
feeding on every green moment
till darkness calls,
and with the others
I walk away into the night,
swinging the little tin bell
of my name.

From "Paul Revere's Ride" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow:

Listen my children and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.

He said to his friend, "If the British march
By land or sea from the town to-night,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch
Of the North Church tower as a signal light,--
One if by land, and two if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country folk to be up and to arm."

Additional Discussion

Each of the three examples represents a different category of poetry. The example from Romeo and Juliet is taken from a play that is written in verse. This means that most lines of the play are written with a steady meter. Shakespeare's plays are all largely composed of blank verse, which is unrhymed iambic pentameter.

"Birthday Poem" by Ted Kooser is an example of lyric poetry, which is the sort of poetry we most often write and study at Brookwood. Lyric poetry is typically short, and it usually uses highly condensed and expressive language to convey an idea or feeling.

"Paul Revere's Ride" is a famous example of nineteenth century narrative poetry (poetry that tells a story), which typically had very rhythmic meter as well as a steady rhyme scheme. This is often the sort of poem that first attracts young readers to poetry, maybe because the meter and rhyme scheme are easily discerned. Narrative poetry like this has become a less popular form among current poets, but children's poets like Shel Silverstein and Jack Preulutsky have employed storytelling, rhythmic meters, and rhymes in their humorous poems such as the example below by Silverstein:

Smart

My dad gave me one dollar bill
'Cause I'm his smartest son,
And I swapped it for two shiny quarters
'Cause two is more than one!

And then I took the quarters
And traded them to Lou
For three dimes -- I guess he don't know
That three is more than two!

Just then, along came old blind Bates
And just 'cause he can't see
He gave me four nickels for my three dimes,
And four is more than three!

And I took the nickels to Hiram Coombs
Down at the seed-feed store,
And the fool gave me five pennies for them,
And five is more than four!

And then I went and showed my dad,
And he got red in the cheeks
And closed his eyes and shook his head--
Too proud of me to speak!

- Shel Silverstein