Sunday, April 5, 2009

Free Verse: Messy Room

“Messy Room“

-Shel Silverstein


Whosever room this is should be ashamed!

His underwear is hanging on the lamp.

His raincoat is there in the overstuffed chair,

And the chair is becoming quite mucky and damp.

His workbook is wedged in the window,

His sweater's been thrown on the floor.

His scarf and one ski are beneath the TV,

And his pants have been carelessly hung on the door.

His books are all jammed in the closet,

His vest has been left in the hall.

A lizard named Ed is asleep in his bed,

And his smelly old sock has been stuck to the wall.

Whosever room this is should be ashamed!

Donald or Robert or Willie or--

Huh? You say it's mine? Oh, dear,

I knew it looked familiar!


Free verse poetry is free from the normal rules of poetry. The poet may choose to include some rhyming words but the poem does not have to rhyme. A free verse poem may be just a sentence that is artistically laid out on the page or it can be pages of words. Some forms of free verse separate, or split, phrases and words between lines. Punctuation may be absent or it may be used to place greater emphasis on specific words. The main object of free verse is to use colorful words, punctuation, and word placement to convey meaning to the reader.

This form of poetry is incredibly broad in its definition and even more so in its practice. Using Caesura to end his lines and determine the flow of this poem Silverstein creates a situation in which an observer realizes the magnitude of his own situation. And, because he was oblivious to the truth that the “messy room” was his own he is able to most accurately discern the condition of said room. Using the free verse form he is able to better form this poem, not restricted by the normal bounds of poetic structure.

Imagism: This is Just to Say

“This Is Just to Say”

-William Carlos Williams

I have eaten

the plums

that were in

the icebox

and which

you were probably


for breakfast.

Forgive me

they were delicious

so sweet

and so cold.

Imagist poetry is a seeming contradiction. It is concise and simple in the visual aspect as well as the literal meaning, but it is also quite complex in its "actual" meaning. Imagist poetry paints a concrete picture for the reader while expressing a deeper meaning.

his particular poem uses clean and succinct language to create a picture. At first glance this poem comes off almost as if it were a note left on the table next to the empty plum container awaiting discovery.

At first glance this poem seems like nothing more than a simple note, but after it is read the reader starts to notice the poetic feel of the words. The reader gets dragged in by the simplicity and swallowed by the complexities.

The language in this poem is very crisp, clear and to the point. There isn't a word over three syllables in the poems entirety and the poem itself is only 28 words. This poem is by right and by form simplistic in nature.

There is no tangible answer as to what this poem is pertaining to, many observations can be made and many questions can be raised. Is the poem about a love affair? Does the poem have nothing to do with love? Is forgiveness really what the speaker seeks? Is the speaker sincere in apologizing? Is the speaker self-righteous? Polite? Pleased? Good-humored?

"What Teachers Make"

-Taylor Mali

the poem

Due to the nature of these poems it makes the most sense not to read them but instead to see them performed. So, I have attached to this blog a video in which the artist recites his poem.

Slam poetry is a modern form of performance poetry that occurs within a competitive poetry event, called a "slam", at which poets perform their own poems (or, in rare cases, those of others) that are "judged" on a numeric scale by randomly picked members of the audience. It can also consist of several poets performing without being judged.

I thoroughly enjoyed this poem and truly admire this form of art. Mali uses a very simplistic and repetitive language along with a very common almost musical rhyme scheme as his tools to show a passionate teacher and his response to ignorance. He varies his volume and pitch to delineate the immense amount of passion he has as a teacher. The plainness of his language helps to show his belief that teaching is more about passion and discipline than it is about actual intelligence. His less than subtle point is that making a difference is far more important than making money.

Friday, March 20, 2009


    The dragonfly
   can't quite land
   on that blade of grass.


Haiku is an unrhymed, syllabic form adapted from the Japanese: three lines of 5, 7 and 5 syllables. Because it is so brief, a haiku is necessarily imagistic, concrete and pithy, capturing a single moment in a very few words. Because the form has been brought into English from a language written in characters, in which a haiku appears on a single line, many poets writing haiku in English are flexible about the syllable and line counts, focusing more on the brevity, condensed form and “Zen” attitude of haiku. The traditional Japanese haiku requires some reference to nature or the season; thus the related short form of senryu is distinguished from haiku as being concerned with “human nature” or social and personal relationships.

In this particular Haiku, Basho analyzes nature through the imagery of a dragonfly. He delineates a creature that can't find a way to land on a certain blade of grass. It is important to note that it is this specific blade of grass that perplexes the dragonfly, like an obstacle he cannot overcome. The dragonfly "can't quite" accomplish this task, showing that he is continually falling barely short of his goals. Also the use of the dragonfly itself introduces the element of a dignified insect, one that should be able to simply land on a blade of grass, increasing the magnitude of it's failure.

Basho is covering the idea of failure through this Haiku, analyzing the actual actions of failure. He depicts an unexpected failure that is important only because of its contrast with the dragonfly. I was wondering what you guys thought about this Haiku in terms of the relationship Basho draws between nature and failure? Also how does this Haiku analyze human nature in juxtaposition with adversity?

Monologue: The Chimney Sweeper

"The Chimney Sweeper"
-William Blake

The central theme in ‘The Chimney Sweeper’ featured in the ‘Song of Innocence’ collection is the fact that if you live a life doing your ‘duties’, you will go to heaven. Already, this shows naivety, as it has such a simple meaning. This is something that a child is more likely to understand, and being part of the ‘Songs of Innocence’, this seems a realistic central theme. However, whilst the theme in the ‘Innocence’ collection has a very simple theme, the poem featuring in the ‘Songs of Experience’ collection is questioning the work of God. It also questions religion, showing that adulthood has a much more complicated view on not just Blake’s subjects, but any topic or matter.A quote that shows naivety in the ‘Innocence’ collection is:‘And the angel told Tom is he’d be a good boy,He’d have God for his father and never want joy’This quote not only proves the central theme of doing good and going to heaven, but it also shows the lack of awareness that Tom and other children have. Firstly, Blake uses the word ‘angel’. Blake is showing the audience that although it is the parents’ responsibility to clothe a child, the boy subject of this poem is not being clothed in real clothes, but metaphorical clothes of ‘death’. This shows us that the parents of this little boy have not only neglected the child, but their responsibility to look after the boy, also.

Spenserian Sonnet: Sonnet 75

Sonnet 75
by: Edmund Spenser
A Spenserian sonnet is characterized by the rhyme scheme ababbcbccdcdee. The carrying of a rhyme from one quatrain to the next lends itself to a 12-line "body" which develops 3 related ideas (one in each quatrain) and a final couplet that presents a different idea or commentary.

One of the many traits that this sonnet shows is the many different images that it gives. The first image that appears is the man writing the women’s name in the sand. It shows in your minds eye a man writing out a name while he was sitting on a beach. The poem also describes a beach and it is very easy to see when you think about it. Another trait that it shows is symbolism. The ocean in the sonnet symbolizes eternity. The ocean seams to go on forever so this is a perfect symbol for it. Another symbol is the waves messing up the name that he wrote on the sand. This symbolizes that his love for her will go on forever and that nothing can change that.

Throughout the poem, Spenser uses alliteration to create sounds that help the imagery in his poem. In the second line of his poem, Spenser uses alliteration when he says "waves and washed it away". The repetition of the "w" sound creates a sound similar to the actual washing of waves. Later in the poem, Spenser writes, "my pains his pray" where the repetition of the "p" sound, which is a sound that gives the felling about the hard time the person is feeling. Spenser uses alliteration to tie in the words and phrases he uses to help connect the poem with the imagery.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Elegy Poem: "Elegy Written in a Country Church-yard"

"Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard"

-Thomas Gray


This poem is not a traditional elegy as more often than not elegies are written lamenting the loss of an individual. This poem, on the other hand is mourning of an entire churchyard as well as the speaker himself through his inevitable death.

He begins the elegy with a vivid description of the desolation in his surroundings. Utilizing the elegance common to this structure Gray draws on intense imagery of a sinking sun and a day ending. This powerful idea, the closing of a day, draws on the existentialist interpretations of death. Gray explores the inevitability and they uniformity of death and sets this up through his speaker’s narration in the first three stanzas.

After the ideas of an almost drowsy reality are fully delineated, Gray delves into the actual graves of his churchyard. Throughout the next few stanzas he discusses the inevitable end of all men rich, poor, famous or unknown. Here the existentialism of this poem is blatant as the author talks of the pointlessness of life, if all “in his narrow cell for ever laid” than of what consequence is our lives. This elegy now reveals yet another very unique aspect in the author’s mourning of others through an analysis of life.

Finally the speaker brings himself to a conclusion about his own death. He realizes we are all equal in life as we are in death. Through this he assures himself of a burial among commoners, despite any renown he may acquire. Thus, a very existentialist close to an existentialist piece.