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English 10B
Unit 4

Student Activity:

Response
e to Poetry

Name _________________________________________

Date____________________________

Objectives
In this activity, you will:
identify, analyze, evaluate, and compare/contrast the appropriateness of diction, sound, imagery,
form, and figurative language in poems
interpret, paraphrase, analyze, and compare/contrast the theme and meaning of selected poems
compare and contrast the use of rhyme, rhythm, and sound to convey a message
compare and contrast the ways in which poets use techniques (e.g., tone) to evoke emotion in the
reader
convey ideas, interpretations, and analysis of poetry into visual and auditory representations
use evidence from the poem to support and justify interpretations

Links
A Framework for Responding to Poetry
http://redirect.platoweb.com/338056
Poetry Archives
http://redirect.platoweb.com/337939

Activities
In the following activities, you will learn about analyzing poetry. You will read and compare two
poems. Then, you will select a poem, develop a response, and create a presentation to express your
interpretation of the poem.
People say that poetry is the voice of the heart and soul. Poetry often has the ability to deeply touch
our emotions. In poetry, the poet is able to express emotions in ways that are very different from other
narrative forms. Reading and interpreting poetry, though, requires a different set of skills and
knowledge than we use when reading novels, short stories, or informational materials. To be
successful in responding to poetry, an understanding of literary analysis terms and the following basic
poetic terms is necessary:

rhymesimilar sounds between words


rhythmrepeated stressed and unstressed syllables in a pattern
form and structurethe overall plan, framework of a piece; how it appears
imagerythe use of words and phrases to create vivid mental pictures for the reader (e.g., simile,
metaphor, and personification)
symbolisman object, person, and so on, that represents some other idea, concept or quality
(e.g., A lion symbolizes courage.).

1. Visit the preceding link, A Framework for Responding to Poetry, and study a framework to use for
responding to poetry.

Permission is granted to instructors to copy and distribute this work sheet for instructional purposes only. Copyright 2005 PLATO Learning, Inc. All rights reserved. PLATO is a
registered trademark of PLATO Learning, Inc. PLATO Learning is a trademark of PLATO Learning, Inc.

2. These are some steps that can also help you respond to a poem.
A. Read the poem and make notes concerning your first impressions of the poem.
B. Reread the poem and try to comprehend the literal meaning. Because poems are often not
written using complete sentences and words are often left out, you may need to fill in words
and rearrange the word order to help you understand what is going on. What do you think the
poet is talking about?
C. Break the poem into its literary elements and poetic devices and begin to analyze each one,
thinking about why and how the author uses each one. Then, look at the cumulative effect of all
of them. Look for connections between them as well. Hint: A chart will be helpful at this point.
D. Look closely at the poets use of language. What time period was the poem written? How does
this impact the word choice and writing style? What details does the poet use? Evaluate the
poets word choice. What style does the author use? How is the piece organized? Are imagery
and symbolism included?
E. Draw conclusions about what you read. What evidence from the poem can you use to support
these conclusions?
3. Read the following two poems, as you think about the steps above. Then, answer the questions
that follow.

My Mistress Eyes Are Nothing Like the Sun


by William Shakespeare, written in 1609
My Mistress eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red that her lips red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, then black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damaskd, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks,
And in some perfumes there is more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound.
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground:
And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.

She Walks in Beauty


by Lord Byron, written in 1814
She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all thats best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellowed to that tender light
Which Heaven to gaudy day denies.
One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impaired the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens oer her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express,
How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.
Permission is granted to instructors to copy and distribute this work sheet for instructional purposes only. Copyright 2005 PLATO Learning, Inc. All rights reserved. PLATO is a
registered trademark of PLATO Learning, Inc. PLATO Learning is a trademark of PLATO Learning, Inc.

And on that cheek, and oer that brow,


So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent.

A. In My Mistress Eyes, how does Shakespeare describe his mistress?


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B. In My Mistress Eyes, Does the speaker love his mistress? Why or why not? Use evidence
to support your conclusions.
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C. In She Walks in Beauty, how does Lord Byron describe his love? Use specific lines and
words to support your conclusions.
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D. Compare and contrast the form of each poem. Describe the rhyme scheme of each poem.
How are they similar? Different?
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E. Compare and contrast the tone in each poem.
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Permission is granted to instructors to copy and distribute this work sheet for instructional purposes only. Copyright 2005 PLATO Learning, Inc. All rights reserved. PLATO is a
registered trademark of PLATO Learning, Inc. PLATO Learning is a trademark of PLATO Learning, Inc.

F. How are the speakers of both poems similar?


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G. How do the last two lines in My Mistress Eyes surprise the reader?
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H. Compare and contrast the themes of both poems and how each poet develops those
themes with imagery.
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I. What do you think is the most powerful image in each poem and why?
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J. Find one example of figurative language in each poem (e.g., simile, metaphor).
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K. Using your own words, write a brief description of what Shakespeares mistress looks like.
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Permission is granted to instructors to copy and distribute this work sheet for instructional purposes only. Copyright 2005 PLATO Learning, Inc. All rights reserved. PLATO is a
registered trademark of PLATO Learning, Inc. PLATO Learning is a trademark of PLATO Learning, Inc.

L. How do you think the mistress in Shakespeares poem and the woman in Lord Byrons
poem would react if they read their poem?
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4. Visit the preceding Poetry Archives link and read a variety of poems there. Select one that either
describes you as a person or has a message that is important to you. You may want to search
under the Top Poems link. Print out the poem and hand it in with your assignment.
5. Answer these questions.
A. What poem did you select? Who wrote it?
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B. When was the poem written? Where was the poet from?
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C. Why did you select this poem?
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D. What is the theme/main message of the poem? How does the poet convey it? State this in
47 sentences.
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Permission is granted to instructors to copy and distribute this work sheet for instructional purposes only. Copyright 2005 PLATO Learning, Inc. All rights reserved. PLATO is a
registered trademark of PLATO Learning, Inc. PLATO Learning is a trademark of PLATO Learning, Inc.

E. How does the poets word choice, style, description, and so on, affect the meaning of the
poem? Cite 23 specific examples to discuss.
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F. Why does this poem speak to you? Use specific phrases or lines to support your
reasoning.
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G. Create either a poster or a presentation using a software program such as PowerPoint that
reflects your personal and literary evaluation of the poem that you chose. Use a variety of
materials when creating a poster (e.g., cut-outs from magazines, paper drawings,
newspapers, and markers). If using presentation software, select appropriate background
music. Be prepared to share/present to your class or organize a poetry evening and invite
the community to learn more about the meaning of poetry.

Permission is granted to instructors to copy and distribute this work sheet for instructional purposes only. Copyright 2005 PLATO Learning, Inc. All rights reserved. PLATO is a
registered trademark of PLATO Learning, Inc. PLATO Learning is a trademark of PLATO Learning, Inc.

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