From Understanding Poetry, 4th Edition. Ed. Cleanth Brooks and Robert Penn Warren. Page 2. Page 3. Page 4. Page 5. Page 6. Page 7. Understanding Poetry. Many times in required literature classes, students are asked to analyze poetry. Analyzing starts with thinking about a poem's subject. It takes time to fully appreciate and understand a work of art. Make a Before you can understand the poem as a whole, you have to start with an understanding.
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Many people are intimidated by the mention of the word “poetry.” It is often perceived as something that is cryptic and beyond understanding. But there are some. Chapter 5: Important Literary Figures of Renaissance and their Contribution in Poetry. Chapter 6: Role of Romantic Age Poets in the Development of Poetry. I have therefore added a new subtitle for this edition: A guide to Reading.. than real HOW TO READ Table of Contents How to Read and Understand Poetry.
Irregularity: Many metered poems in English avoid perfectly regular rhythm because it is monotonous. Irregularities in rhythm add interest and emphasis to the lines.
In this line: The first foot substitutes a trochee for an iamb. Thus, the basic iambic pentameter is varied with the opening trochee. Blank Verse: Any poetry that does have a set metrical pattern usually iambic pentameter , but does not have rhyme, is blank verse. Shakespeare frequently used unrhymed iambic pentameter in his plays; his works are an early example of blank verse.
Free Verse: Most modern poetry no longer follows strict rules of meter or rhyme, especially throughout an entire poem. Free verse, frankly, has no rules about meter or rhyme whatsoever! Free verse can also apply to a lack of a formal verse structure.
How do I know if a poem has meter? How do I determine the meter? To maintain a consistent meter, a poet has to choose words that fit.
Words like betray and persuade will work in an iambic poem because they are naturally iambic. They sound silly any other way.
However, candle and muscle will work best in a trochaic poem, because their natural emphasis is on the first syllable. This often leads to poetic feet ending in the middle of words - after one syllable - rather than the end. It's not surprising that most modern poetry is not metered, because it is very restrictive and demanding. Determining meter is usually a process of elimination. Start reading everything in iambic by emphasizing every second syllable. If it sounds silly or strange, because many of the poem's words do not sound natural, then try trochaic, anapestic or dactylic rhythms.
If none of these sounds natural, then you probably do not have metered poetry at all ie. A third common mistake is an attempt to mechanically combine the first two, defining poetry as the "beautiful statement of some high truth", or "truth" with "decorations".
This mistake can lead to thinking of poems as collections of pretty language pleasing for its associations with pleasant things. But even Shakespeare and Milton wrote fine passages bringing up unpleasant and disagreeable associations. The things represented don't themselves shape the poetic effect, which depends on the "kind of use the poet makes of them. The introduction also states but doesn't develop the thought that poems are inherently dramatic, with an implied speaker who reacts to a situation, scene or idea.
Narrative Poems"[ edit ] In a "Foreword" introducing discussions of individual poems, the authors say that poetry takes the general human interest that people have in other people expressed at other times in news articles about such things as outlaws, lovers killing lovers or other tragedies, to cite some examples and put into a form "that preserves it" even after initial curiosity wanes.
Poems that tell a story use the reader's natural curiosity about how a story will turn out the most obvious way we become interested in literature , although readers or listeners who know the ending still enjoy the poems. The story element can be prominent, as in [who? Narrative is a way for the poet to provoke certain emotional reactions and ideas in readers. Using the ballad "Johnie Armstrong" as an example, the authors show how a narrative poem, far more than a novel or even a short story, will use bare "facts" in a dramatic way that gives them an emotional and intellectual meaning, whether or not the reader or listener has analyzed those or other elements.
Poems are more concentrated or "closely" organized than prose in that they tend to present concentrated, sharper selected details in a concentrated, carefully arranged way, giving them more "intensity.
The reader can also be drawn into a more immediate appreciation of a poem by drawing out ideas from suggestions rather than the poet making explicit statements. Yet not every implication of a poem needs to be understood consciously for a reader to enjoy the work. The theme of a poem can be properly described to give a fuller understanding of the poem without the process becoming "message hunting" if the reader understands that "the poem gives the theme its force", not the other way around.
Descriptive Poems"[ edit ] The poems in this section give readers an impression of some scene or object showing the impression they gave the poet either through his senses or imagination. Conveying fresh, vivid impressions of things is fundamental to good poetry, the authors assert. Like the Statue of Liberty, the Colossus of Rhodes was an enormous god-like statue positioned in a harbor. Although the Colossus of Rhodes no longer stands, it symbolizes the ancient Greek world and the greatness of the ancient Greek and Roman civilization, which was lost for a thousand years to the West, and only fully recovered again during the Renaissance.
The relevance of this poem stretches all the way back to the pilgrims fleeing religious persecution in Europe to the controversies surrounding modern immigrants from Mexico and the Middle East. While circumstances today have changed drastically, there is no denying that this open door was part of what made America great once upon a time.
Round the decay Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare The lone and level sands stretch far away. This king is still regarded as the greatest and most powerful Egyptian pharaoh.
The image of a dictator-like king whose kingdom is no more creates a palpable irony. But, beyond that there is a perennial lesson about the inescapable and destructive forces of time, history, and nature. In terms of lost civilizations that show the ephemeralness of human pursuits, there is no better example than the Egyptians—who we associate with such dazzling monuments as the Sphinx and the Great Pyramid at Giza that stands far taller than the Statue of Liberty —yet who completely lost their spectacular language, culture, and civilization.
If all ordinary pursuits, such as power and fame, are but dust, what remains, the poem suggests, are spirituality and morality—embodied by the ancient Hebrew faith.
What men or gods are these?
What maidens loth? What mad pursuit?
What struggle to escape? What pipes and timbrels?
What wild ecstasy? Ah, happy, happy boughs! Who are these coming to the sacrifice? What little town by river or sea shore, Or mountain-built with peaceful citadel, Is emptied of this folk, this pious morn? O Attic shape! Fair attitude! The art on the Grecian urn—which is basically a decorative pot from ancient Greece—has survived for thousands of years. While empires rose and fell, the Grecian urn survived.
Musicians, trees, lovers, heifers, and priests all continue dying decade after decade and century after century, but their artistic depictions on the Grecian urn live on for what seems eternity. This realization about the timeless nature of art is not new now nor was it in the s, but Keats has chosen a perfect example since ancient Greek civilization so famously disappeared into the ages, being subsumed by the Romans, and mostly lost until the Renaissance a thousand years later.
Further, what is depicted on the Grecian urn is a variety of life that makes the otherwise cold urn feel alive and vibrant.
Thus, we can escape ignorance, humanness, and certain death and approach another form of life and truth through the beauty of art. This effectively completes the thought that began in Ozymandias and makes this a great poem one notch up from its predecessor.
In what distant deeps or skies. Burnt the fire of thine eyes? On what wings dare he aspire? What the hand, dare seize the fire?
And what shoulder, and what art, Could twist the sinews of thy heart?