Poetry Notebook

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Poetry Notebook

Table of Contents

Content Selected Poems

1. Figurative Language Terms and Definitions

2. Line, Stanza, Meter, Rhyme, Rhyme Scheme, and Rhythm

3. Couplet, Triplet, Quatrain

4. Analogy, Simile, Metaphor

5. Personification

6. Hyperbole

7. Allusion

8. Sensory Language/ Imagery

9. Alliteration “The Underwater Wibbles”

10. Repetition “Life Doesn’t Frighten Me”

“I am” poem

Self-made alliteration poem

11. Onomatopoeia “The Moon” “The Rusty Spigot”

12. Limerick

13. Haiku

14. Shape Poems: Concrete, Diamante, and Acrostic Poetry

15. Free Verse

16. Ballad/Narrative

17. Song Lyrics as Poetry

How Literary Allusion Is Used in a Well-Known Poem by Robert Frost

by Tina Blue

October 30, 2000

          Allusion is when a poet directly or indirectly refers to something outside his poem. Allusions can be made to just about anything. One common form of allusion among poets is the allusion to a well-known work by another poet. When a poet makes such an allusion, he pays homage to the original poet, and also subtly incorporates implications from that poet's work into his own. Of course, the serious poet usually assumes that his reader will recognize such an allusion and understand what its potential implications are. In Robert Frost's "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" there is probably a very subtle allusion to Dante's "Inferno," the first book of the Divine Comedy. That allusion is embodied both in the poem's rhyme scheme and in its central image, as well as in the thematic implications of that image.

          Rhyme is the recurrence of the last stressed vowel and all subsequent sounds in two or more words: hit/bit; yellow/fellow; rise/aggrandize. When the rhymed words occur at the ends of the lines, they are called (surprise!) end-rhymes. When the end-rhymes of a poem follow an identifiable pattern, that pattern is called the poem's rhyme scheme.

          We mark a poem's rhyme scheme by assigning a lower-case (i.e., not capitalized) letter to each new rhyming sound that is introduced. Thus, in the first stanza of Robert Frost's "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening," the end-rhymed words are "know," "though," "here," and "snow":

Whose woods these are I think I know

                    His house is in the village, though.

                     He will not see me stopping here

                     To watch his woods fill up with snow.

          The rhyme scheme for this stanza would be labeled aaba, since lines 1, 2, and 4 all have the same rhyme sound, while line 3 introduces a new sound. That new sound (b) becomes the predominant rhyme in the second stanza, which rhymes

bbcb--introducing a third rhyming sound in the third line:

                     My little horse must think it queer

                    To stop without a farm house near,

                     Between the woods and frozen lake

                     The darkest evening of the year.

The third stanza rhymes ccdc:   He gives his harness bells a shake

                     To ask if there is some mistake.

                     The only other sound's the sweep

                     Of easy wind and downy flake.

And the final stanza rhymes dddd: The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,

                     But I have promises to keep,

                    And miles to go before I sleep,

                     And miles to go before I sleep.

          If we were to characterize the rhyme scheme of this poem, we would say that the poem consists of four quatrains (four-line stanzas) rhyming aaba bbcb ccdc dddd. (The stanza breaks are indicated by leaving a space in the rhyme scheme.)

          The rhyme scheme could be further described by saying that the third line of each of the first three stanzas predicts the predominant rhyme of the subsequent stanza. The poem's final stanza, which obviously is not followed by another, has no predictive rhyme, but maintains the d-rhyme throughout.

          If you are at all familiar with traditional poetic forms, you might recognize Frost's quatrains as a variation of the terza rima form used by Dante in the Divine Comedy. Terza rima has the pattern aba bcb cdc ded. . . . The "Inferno," the first book of the Divine Comedy, begins with these lines (as translated into English, which costs us the rhymes):

                    Midway in our life's journey I awoke

                    To find myself alone in a dark wood.

                    Who knows how I came that way . . . (1-3)

          Now, it is not by any means certain, but it is certainly possible, and perhaps even probable, that Frost intends this similarity in stanzaic structure and rhyme scheme to subtly invoke Dante's "Inferno." (This is allusion!)

          Dante's Divine Comedy is one of the most famous poems in the Western literary tradition. Frost, like any other major poet, knew Dante’s poems. Even if he did not originally have in mind such an allusion to Dante's "Inferno," he would have recognized it after having written the poem, and then would have chosen either to obscure it or to leave it in his poem for his readers to notice--for he could be sure that all of his readers with a certain level of knowledge about the poetic tradition would notice the similarity.

          What, you might ask, would Frost gain by such an allusion? Well, Dante's lines refer to the "dark night of the soul," the point at which the soul despairs of finding God. Frost was a well-known depressive, and many of his poems deal with the depressive's sense of isolation from normal human activity and habitation. "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" has many levels of meaning, but certainly one aspect of its meaning is the persona's* sense of isolation and the lure of death. (Think of Keats' "Ode to a Nightingale": "I have been half in love with easeful Death" [52].)

          When the persona says, "He will not see me stopping here / To watch his woods fill up with snow" (3-4), he refers to the woods' owner, but here as in other poems, such as "Birches," he means us to understand not only the woods' human owner, but also at some level God, whose "house" (the church) is also in the village. The speaker's belief that the owner will not see him stopping to watch the snow fall in the woods subtly suggests that he has somehow fallen outside of God's range of vision or concern.

          By associating his poem with the opening lines of Dante's "Inferno," Frost creates resonances and implications that add depth and power to "Stopping by Woods." Allusion is also a game between the writer and the reader. Literary traditions belong to those who know them, and when a poet alludes to this shared knowledge, the reader's reaction is sort of like "getting it." We must not overlook one of poetry's great delights--that moment of recognition when the reader goes, "Heh, heh, heh, heh--cool!"


The Underwater Wibbles

dine exclusively on cheese,

they keep it in containers

that they bind about their knees,

they often chew on Cheddar

which they slice into a dish,

and gorge on Gorgonzola

to the wonder of the fish.

The Underwater Wibbles

wiggle blithely through the sea,

munching merrily on Muenster,

grated Feta, bits of Brie,

passing porpoises seem puzzled,

stolid octopuses stare,

as the Wibbles nibble Gouda,

Provolone, Camembert.

The Underwater Wibbles frolic gaily off the coast,

eating melted Mozzarella

served on soggy crusts of toast,

Wibbles gobble Appenzeller

as they execute their dives,

Oh, the Underwater Wibbles,

live extraordinary lives.

Life Doesn’t Frighten Me by Maya Angelou

Shadows on the wall

Noises down the hall

Life doesn’t frighten me at all


Bad dogs barking loud

Big ghosts in a cloud

Life doesn’t frighten me at all


Mean old Mother Goose

Lions on the loose

They don’t frighten me at all


Dragons breathing flame

On my counterpane

That doesn’t frighten me at all.


I go boo

Make them shoo

I make fun

Way they run

I won’t cry

So they fly

I just smile

They go wild


Life doesn’t frighten me at all.


Tough guys fight

All alone at night

Life doesn’t frighten me at all.


Panthers in the park

Strangers in the dark

No, they don’t frighten me at all.


That new classroom where

Boys all pull my hair

(Kissy little girls

With their hair in curls)

They don’t frighten me at all.


Don’t show me frogs and snakes

And listen for my scream,

If I’m afraid at all

It’s only in my dreams.


I’ve got a magic charm

That I keep up my sleeve

I can walk the ocean floor

And never have to breathe.


Life doesn’t frighten me at all

Not at all

Not at all.


Life doesn’t frighten me at all.

Famous onomatopoeia poems

The Moon

From Child's Garden of Verses

The moon has a face like the clock in the hall;

She shines on thieves on the garden wall,

On streets and fields and harbour quays,

And birdies asleep in the forks of the trees.

The squalling cat and the squeaking mouse,

The howling dog by the door of the house,

The bat that lies in bed at noon,

All love to be out by the light of the moon.

But all of the things that belong to the day

Cuddle to sleep to be out of her way;

And flowers and children close their eyes

Till up in the morning the sun shall arise

~Robert Louis Stevenson

The rusty Spigot

The rusty spigot



A splutter,

Spatters a smattering of drops,

Gashes wider;





Finally stops sputtering

And plash!

Gushes rushes splashes

Clear water dashes.

~Eve Merriam


To help you get started writing limericks, here’s some helpful information about writing limericks.

To begin, a limerick is a funny little poem containing five lines. It has a very distinctive rhythm and rhyme pattern.

• Rhyme Pattern: The last words of the first, second, and fifth lines all rhyme with each other. We’ll call those rhyming words “A,” however the words could be “ Peru,” “shoe,” and “true” as illustrated in the first poem below or “Tim,” “swim,” and “him” as illustrated in the second poem below. And the last words of the third and fourth lines rhyme with each other. We’ll call those rhyming words “B,” however the words could be “night” and “fright” in the first example or “dock” and “rock” in the second example.

• Rhythm Pattern: The first, second, and fifth lines all have this rhythm pattern: da DUM da da DUM da da DUM (notice there are 3 DUMS or beats). Say, “There once was a fellow named Tim” out loud. Now say, “da DUM da da DUM da da DUM” out loud. Notice that both have the same rhythm. The third and fourth lines have a different rhythm pattern: da DUM da da DUM (notice there are 2 DUMS or beats). Say, “He fell off the dock” out loud. Now say “da DUM da da DUM” out loud. Notice that both have the same rhythm.

Here is a very famous limerick. Notice both the rhyme and rhythm patterns.

|1. |There was an old man from Peru, (A) |

| |da DUM da da DUM da da DUM (3 DUMS) |

|2. |who dreamed he was eating his shoe. (A) |

| |da DUM da da DUM da da DUM (3 DUMS) |

|3. |He awoke in the night (B) |

| |da DUM da da DUM (2 DUMS) |

|4. |with a terrible fright, (B) |

| |da da DUM da da DUM (2 DUMS) |

|5. |and found out that it was quite true. (A) |

| |da DUM da da DUM da da DUM (3 DUMS) |

When you write a limerick, make sure that it has the same AABBA rhyme pattern. Make sure it also has the same 3 DUMS, 3 DUMS, 2 DUMS, 2 DUMS, 3 DUMS rhythm pattern, too. To be sure, recite the poem, substituting “da” for all unaccented or unstressed syllables and “DUM” for all accented or stressed syllables, as I have done above. If your poem doesn’t have a similar rhythm pattern, then you need to make some adjustments.

Ideas for new limericks can come from almost anywhere. For example, your city, state, country, or name. If your name is Tim or Jim, you could write something like this:

How to Write a Haiku Poem

1. Pick a topic or thought that you want to create into a mental image.

My topic is "Writing a Haiku"

2. Write a summary of what you want to say in your haiku.

My summary is, "To teach people that a haiku is a short poem of 17 syllables."

3. Write a summary of what you want to say.

Count your syllables, and start weeding out unnecessary words from your haiku.

I have two syllables too many and very little impact.

4. Start to group words by syllables, thought and imagery. Be creative in rewriting your phrases and substituting words with fewer syllables. Use your thesaurus to find better words. The first line of your haiku should have five syllables.

My first line becomes, "To write a haiku..."

5. The next line of the haiku needs 7 syllables.

The second line of my poem is, "One must be able to count..."

6. The last line of a haiku goes back to 5 syllables.

My last line is, "To five and seven."

7. The completed haiku has 17 syllables in 3 lines of 5/7/5:

To write a haiku (5)

One must be able to count (7)

To five and seven (5)

8. Now that you have written a basic haiku, try inserting a break or pause in your next haiku poem with a comma or dash to create two connected thoughts.

To write a haiku

One must be able to count -

Create an image.

9. Now write your own original Haiku!

How to Write a Diamante Poem

In this activity you’ll write a diamante poem, a diamond- shaped seven-line poem. You will work with antonyms (opposites), nouns, adjectives and verbs.

The line pattern for the poem is:

Line 1: One noun that is the opposite of line 7

Line 2: Two adjectives that describe line 1

Line 3: Three action verbs ending in -ing that describe line 1

Line 4: Four nouns

First 2 nouns relate to line 1

Last 2 nouns relate to line 7

Line 5: Three action verbs ending in -ing that describe line 7

Line 6: Two adjectives that describe line 7

Line 7: One noun that is contrasting to line 1

How to Write an Acrostic Poem

Acrostic poems are easy to write, and some of the easiest acrostic poems use names. Try this exercise: Write your name vertically on a piece of paper or type it vertically on your computer. For this example, we'll pretend your name is Joe.




Now think of a word or a phrase that describes you that begins with the letter J. Then think of a word or phrase that begins with O. Finally, think of a word or phrase that begins with E. Here's what your acrostic poem might look like:





After you've written an acrostic poem using your name, try writing poems with other words, such as "football," "horse," or "summer." For a real challenge, see if you can make the acrostic poem tell a story rather than just describe the word you chose. These examples may get your creative juices flowing:


Grounds (coffee)

Apple (core)

Rinds (mellon)

Banana (peel)

Anchovies (from a pizza I wouldn't eat)

Grapes (too ripe to eat)

Emptying the stinking bag (my job)

How to Write a

Narrative Poetry

The Raven [First published in 1845]

|[pic] |Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary, |

| |Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore, |

| |While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping, |

| |As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door. |

| |`'Tis some visitor,' I muttered, `tapping at my chamber door - |

| |Only this, and nothing more.' |

| | |

| |Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December, |

| |And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor. |

| |Eagerly I wished the morrow; - vainly I had sought to borrow |

| |From my books surcease of sorrow - sorrow for the lost Lenore - |

| |For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels named Lenore - |

| |Nameless here for evermore. |

| | |

| |And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain |

| |Thrilled me - filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before; |

| |So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating |

| |`'Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door - |

| |Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door; - |

| |This it is, and nothing more,' |

| | |

| |Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer, |

| |`Sir,' said I, `or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore; |

| |But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping, |

| |And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door, |

| |That I scarce was sure I heard you' - here I opened wide the door; - |

| |Darkness there, and nothing more. |

| | |

| |Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing, |

| |Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before; |

| |But the silence was unbroken, and the darkness gave no token, |

| |And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, `Lenore!' |

| |This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, `Lenore!' |

| |Merely this and nothing more. |

| | |

| |Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning, |

| |Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before. |

| |`Surely,' said I, `surely that is something at my window lattice; |

| |Let me see then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore - |

| |Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore; - |

| |'Tis the wind and nothing more!' |

| | |

| |Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter, |

| |In there stepped a stately raven of the saintly days of yore. |

| |Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he; |

| |But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door - |

| |Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door - |

| |Perched, and sat, and nothing more. |

| | |

| |Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling, |

| |By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore, |

| |`Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,' I said, `art sure no craven. |

| |Ghastly grim and ancient raven wandering from the nightly shore - |

| |Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore!' |

| |Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.' |

| | |

| |Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly, |

| |Though its answer little meaning - little relevancy bore; |

| |For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being |

| |Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door - |

| |Bird or beast above the sculptured bust above his chamber door, |

| |With such name as `Nevermore.' |

| | |

| |But the raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only, |

| |That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour. |

| |Nothing further then he uttered - not a feather then he fluttered - |

| |Till I scarcely more than muttered `Other friends have flown before - |

| |On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before.' |

| |Then the bird said, `Nevermore.' |

| | |

| |Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken, |

| |`Doubtless,' said I, `what it utters is its only stock and store, |

| |Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful disaster |

| |Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore - |

| |Till the dirges of his hope that melancholy burden bore |

| |Of "Never-nevermore."' |

| | |

| |But the raven still beguiling all my sad soul into smiling, |

| |Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird and bust and door; |

| |Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking |

| |Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore - |

| |What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore |

| |Meant in croaking `Nevermore.' |

| | |

| |This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing |

| |To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom's core; |

| |This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining |

| |On the cushion's velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o'er, |

| |But whose velvet violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o'er, |

| |She shall press, ah, nevermore! |

| | |

| |Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer |

| |Swung by Seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor. |

| |`Wretch,' I cried, `thy God hath lent thee - by these angels he has sent thee |

| |Respite - respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore! |

| |Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe, and forget this lost Lenore!' |

| |Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.' |

| | |

| |`Prophet!' said I, `thing of evil! - prophet still, if bird or devil! - |

| |Whether tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore, |

| |Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted - |

| |On this home by horror haunted - tell me truly, I implore - |

| |Is there - is there balm in Gilead? - tell me - tell me, I implore!' |

| |Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.' |

| | |

| |`Prophet!' said I, `thing of evil! - prophet still, if bird or devil! |

| |By that Heaven that bends above us - by that God we both adore - |

| |Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn, |

| |It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels named Lenore - |

| |Clasp a rare and radiant maiden, whom the angels named Lenore?' |

| |Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.' |

| | |

| |`Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!' I shrieked upstarting - |

| |`Get thee back into the tempest and the Night's Plutonian shore! |

| |Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken! |

| |Leave my loneliness unbroken! - quit the bust above my door! |

| |Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!' |

| |Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.' |

| | |

| |And the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting |

| |On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door; |

| |And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming, |

| |And the lamp-light o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor; |

| |And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor |

| |Shall be lifted - nevermore! |


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