Definition of Poetry

poetry has no one set definition because it can mean so many things to different people. The following are some common definitions:it is the art of writing thoughts, ideas, and dreams into imaginative language which may contain verse, pause, meter, repetition, and/or rhyme.writing that formulates a concentrated imaginative awareness of experience in language chosen and arranged to create a specific emotional response through meaning, sound,and rhythm
  • A poet is the one who writes poetry.
  • A poem is a written expression of emotion or ideas in an arrangement of words or verse, most often rhythmically.

Different Types of Poetry

  • There are over 50 types of poetry.
  • Poetry is categorized by:
  • the number of lines in the poem, for example, sonnet
  • the words in the poem,
  • whether it rhymes or not, and
  • what it is about, for example, love poetry, death poetry, etc
  • Below are the common types of poetry:
  • Haikus
  • Sonnets
  • Name poems
  • Free verse poems


  • The haiku originated from Japan,.
  • It’s the shortest type of poem and, often, the most difficult to understand.
  • Haiku poems consist of 3 lines. 
  • The first and last lines of a Haiku have 5 syllables and the middle line has 7 syllables. 
  •  The lines rarely rhyme.

Look at the example below:

Easter Chocolate Haiku

by Kaitlyn Guenther

Easter bunny hides
Easter eggs are out of sight
Kids look everywhere

Free verse poems

  • A free verse is the loosest type of poem.
  • It can consist of as many lines as the writer wants.
  • It can either rhyme or not, and it does not require any fixed metrical pattern.

Look at the example below:

From Marriage
Marianne Moore

This institution,

perhaps one should say enterprise
out of respect for which
one says one need not change one’s mind
about a thing one has believed in,
requiring public promises
of one’s intention
to fulfill a private obligation:
I wonder what Adam and Eve
think of it by this time,
this fire-gilt steel
alive with goldenness;
how bright it shows—


  • A sonnet is best described as a lyric poem that consists of fourteen lines.
  • Sonnet’s have at least one or two conventional rhyme schemes.

An example of a sonnet is the poem below:

From Visions
Francesco Petrarch

Being one day at my window all alone,

So manie strange things happened me to see,
As much as it grieveth me to thinke thereon.
At my right hand a hynde appear’d to mee,
So faire as mote the greatest god delite;
Two eager dogs did her pursue in chace.
Of which the one was blacke, the other white:
With deadly force so in their cruell race

They pincht the haunches of that gentle beast,

That at the last, and in short time, I spide,
Under a rocke, where she alas, opprest,
Fell to the ground, and there untimely dide.
Cruell death vanquishing so noble beautie
Oft makes me wayle so hard a desire.

Name poems

  • They are popular among children and are often used in schools.
  • The name of the person becomes the poem.
  • Each letter in the name is the first letter in the line of the poem.

Study DUNCAN poem below:

Drew naughty cucumbers frenetically
Umbilical yet chubby
Notified earls generously
Cavorted willfully
Apologized selfishly
Napped frankly but courageously

Note:There is a very wide definition of what constitutes poetry, and although some types of poetry can be grouped together in specific styles, creativity is the key to poetry and a new poet can choose to write in any style he wants, even if it doesn’t fit into one of the recognized types.



  • A persona is a character taken on by a poet to speak in a poem
  • Dramatic monologues create a persona; however, as a poem using a persona need not tell a reader anything about the situation of the speaker, the narrative, or the person that the poem is spoken to, a persona-poem need not be a dramatic monologue.

A Freedom Song

Atieno washes dishes,
Atieno plucks the chicken,
Atieno gets up early,
Beds her sacks down in the kitchen,
Atieno eight years old,
Atieno yo.

Since she is my sister’s child
Atieno needs no pay.
While she works my wife can sit
Sewing every sunny day:
With her earnings I support
Atieno yo.

Atieno’ sly and jealous,
Bad example to the kids
Since she minds them, like a schoolgirl
Wants their dresses, shoes and beads,
Atieno ten years old,
Atieno yo.

Now my wife has gone to study
Atieno is less free.
Don’t I keep her, school my own ones,
Pay the party, union fee,
All for progress! Aren’t you grateful
Atieno yo?

Visitors need much attention,
All the more when I work night.
That girl spends too long at market.
Who will teach her what is right?
Atieno rising fourteen,
Atieno yo.

Atieno’s had a baby
So we know that she is bad.
Fifty fifty it may live
And repeat the life she had
Ending in post-partum bleeding,
Atieno yo.

Atieno’s soon replaced;
Meat and sugar more than all
She ate in such a narrow life
Were lavished at her funeral.
Atieno’s gone to glory,
Atineo yo.

Marjorie Oludhe-Macgoye

The persona in the poem is Atieno’s uncle. He says; “since she’s my sister’s child/Atieno needs no pay.


  • A poem’s subject matter is what the poem is about.
  • To understand subject matter, you need to answer the questions below.
  • What event, situation, or experience does the poem describe or record?
  • Who is the speaker? Is the poet speaking in the role of another person, an animal, a thing?
  • To whom is the speaking talking?
  • What is the time setting – hour of day, season, era?
  • What is the place setting?

In the poem “Freedom Song”, can you discuss what the poem is about?

The poem is about a young girl called Atieno who is mistreated by her own uncle. She works without pay and ends in death due to post partum bleeding.

Now read the poem below.


Okot P B’TEK (Uganda)

My husband tells me

I have no ideas

Of modern beauty.

He says

I have stuck

To old-fashioned hair styles.

He says

I am stupid and very backward,

That my hair style

Makes him sick

Because I am dirty.

It is true

I cannot do my hair

As white women do.


My father comes from Payira,

My mother is a woman of Koc!

I am a true Acoli

I am not a half-caste

I am not a slave girl;

My father was not brought home

By the spear

My mother was not exchanged

For a basket of millet.

Ask me what beauty is

To the Acoli

And I will tell you;

I will show it to you

If you give me a chance!

You once saw me,

You saw my hair style

And you admired it,

And the boys loved it

At the arena

Boys surrounded me

And fought for me.

My mother taught me

Acoli hair fashions;

Which fits the kind

Of hair of the Acoli,

And the occasion.


Ostrich plumes differ

From chicken feathers,

A monkey’s tail

Is different from that of a giraffe,

The crocodile’s skin

Is not like the guinea fowl’s,

And the hippo is naked, and hairless.

The hair of the Acoli

Is different from that of the Arabs;

The Indians’ hair

Resembles the tail of a horse;

It is like sisal strings

And needs to be cut

With scissors.

It is black,

And is different from that of a white woman.

A white woman’s hair

Is soft like silk;

It is light

And brownish like

That of a brown monkey,

And is very different from mine.

A black woman’s hair

Is thick and curly;

It is true

Ring-worm sometimes eat up

A little girl’s hair

And this is terrible;

But when hot porridge

Is put on the head

And the dance is held

Under the sausage-fruit tree

And the youths have sung

You, Ring worm

Who is eating Duka’s hair

Here is your porridge,

Then the girl’s hair

Begins to grow again

And the girl is pleased.

What is this poem about?


“Today I did my share in building the nation.
I drove a Permanent Secretary to an important, urgent function
In fact, to a luncheon at the Vic.

The menu reflected its importance
Cold bell beer with small talk,
Then fried chicken with niceties
Wine to fill the hollowness of the laughs
Ice-cream to cover the stereotype jokes
Coffee to keep the PS awake on the return journey.

I drove the Permanent Secretary back.
He yawned many times in back of the car
Then to keep awake, he suddenly asked,
Did you have any lunch friend?
I replied looking straight ahead
And secretly smiling at his belated concern
That I had not, but was slimming!

Upon which he said with a seriousness
That amused more than annoyed me,
Mwananchi, I too had none!
I attended to matters of state.
Highly delicate diplomatic duties you know,
And friend, it goes against my grain,
Causes me stomach ulcers and wind.

Ah, he continued, yawning again,
The pains we suffer in building the nation! So the PS had ulcers too!
My ulcers I think are equally painful
Only they are caused by hunger,
Not sumptuous lunches!

So two nation builders
Arrived home this evening
With terrible stomach pains
The result of building the nation-in different ways!”

(a) Who is the persona in this poem?

The persona is the senior government officer’s driver who drives him to an expensive hotel.

(b) What is the subject matter of the poem?

The poem is about the government officer who attends an official function at a hotel. The meals he takes here are expensive. The driver looks at him as he eats..


  • Thematic message is the lesson the poet is attempting to express in the poem.
  • Here we ask ourselves questions like: What seems to be the poet’s purpose in writing this – what message, ideas, issues, themes, (etc.) are communicated?



Africans should be proud of their identity. No matter what they do Africans will remain Africans.

MESSAGE in Building the Nation

·       If we wish to do well in nation building we must as public servants respect everything that belongs to the state; money, property, working hours etc.

·       If the high class is not careful with nation building one day the oppressed may revolt.



Stylistic devices

Stylistic devices can be grouped as:

  • Figures of speech, such as,
  • Synecdoche
  • Metonymy
  • Similes
  • Metaphors
  • Apostrophe, etc
  • Sound devices/techniques, such as:
  • Alliteration
  • Assonance
  • Consonance
  • Repetition

Figurative language

A figure of speech is any way of saying something other than the ordinary way. Figurative language is language using figures of speech. Irony- a subtle of meaning


Synecdoche is a literary device that refers to a whole as one of its parts. For example, someone might refer to her car as her “wheels,” or a teacher might ask his class to put their eyes on him as he explains something. Or Workers can be referred to as ‘pairs of hands’, a vehicle as one′s ‘wheels’


Definition of Metonymy

  • Metonymy is a figure of speech in which something is called by a new name that is related in meaning to the original thing or concept. Common Examples of Metonymy
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Examples In Regular Language

  • “He writes a fine hand.” – This means that the person writes neatly or has good handwriting.
  • The big house—Refers to prison
  • “The pen is mightier than the sword.” – This only means that words spoken well are mightier than military force.
  • “We have always remained loyal to the crown.” – The crown here stands to symbolize the king of a particular country. This metonymy is used commonly when talking or writing.
  • “The House was called to order.” – This means that the ‘members’ of a House, assuming that it’s a House of Parliament, were called to order.
  • ‘He is a man of cloth’ – This only means to say that the man who the sentence is talking about is a man who belongs to a religious sect; cloth signifies that ‘robes’ worn by religious men.
  • ‘She works with a newspaper’ – Newspaper  stands to represent a group of journalists and editors working together to churn out news items.

Consider the poem below:

We passed the School, where Children strove At Recess, in the Ring

We passed the fields of Gazing Grain

We passed the Setting Sun

 Or rather, He passed Us

The Dews drew quivering and chill

For only Gossamer, my Gown

My Tippet, only Tulle

We paused before a House that seemed

A Swelling of the Ground

The Roof was scarcely visible

The Cornice in the Ground Since then ’tis

Centuries, and yet Feels shorter than the

Day I first surmised the Horses’ Heads

Were toward Eternity 

Because I Could Not Stop For Death –

Emily Dickinson

At a quick look, it may be difficult to find out the use of metonymies in the poem above. However, when you take a deeper look at the poem and are better acquainted with a metonymy as a figure of speech, the whole process should be a breeze.

 Look at the first line in the first poem: “We passed the School, where Children strove”. The word ‘school’ represents a building, but then school also stands to represent the children studying in that particular school.

Difference Between Metonymy and Synecdoche

  • Metonymy and synecdoche are very similar figures of speech, and some consider synecdoche to be a specific type of metonymy.
  • Synecdoche occurs when the name of a part is used to refer to the whole, such as in “There are hungry mouths to feed.” The mouths stand in for the hungry people. The definition of metonymy is more expansive, including concepts that are merely associated in meaning and not necessarily parts of the original thing or concept.

Function of Metonymy

Poets use metonymy:

  1. to address something in a more poetic and unique way.
  2.  to make statements more concise.


Similar to ‘personification’ but indirect. The speaker addresses someone absent or dead, or addresses an inanimate or abstract object as if it were human.

Sample Apostrophe Poem


JOHN DONNE (England)

Death be not proud, though some have called thee

Might and dreadful, for thou art not so;

For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow

Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.

From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,

Much pleasure- then from thee much more must flow;

And soonest our best men with thee do go,

Rest of their bones and soul’s delivery.

Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings and desperate men,

And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell;

And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well,

And better than thy stroke. Why swell’st thou then?

One short sleep past, we wake eternally,

And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.


The poet addresses death but death does not respond. Eg he says ‘poor death’ which is an embarrassing way to talk to someone who considers himself tough.


  • This is where successive clauses or sentences start with the same word(s)
  • The same word or phrase is used to begin successive clauses or sentences.
  • This makes the reader’s / listener’s attention to be drawn directly to the message of the sentence.
  • The most common examples in prose are:
  • Every child must be taught these principles. Every citizen must uphold them. And every immigrant, by embracing these ideals, makes our country more, not less, American.
  • The beginning of wisdom is silence. The second step is listening. (unknown)
  • A man without ambition is dead. A man with ambition but no love is dead. A man with ambition and love for his blessings here on earth is ever so alive. (Pearl Bailey)

Sample Anaphora Poem

I have been one acquainted with the night.
I have walked out in rain – and back in rain.
I have outwalked the furthest city light.

I have looked down the saddest city lane.
I have passed by the watchman on his beat
And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.

I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet
When far away an interrupted cry
Came over houses from another street,

But not to call me back or say good-bye;
And further still at an unearthly height,
One luminary clock against the sky

Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right.
I have been one acquainted with the night.

Robert Frost

  • You realize there is realize that the phrase “I have” is the same in:

I have been one acquainted with the night.
I have walked out in rain—and back in rain.
I have outwalked the furthest city light.
I have looked down the saddest city lane.
I have passed by the watchman on his beat
And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.



  • That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind. (Neil Armstrong)
  • To err is human; to forgive, divine. (Pope)
  • It is easier for a father to have children than for children to have a real father. (Pope)
  • Antithesis is a figure of speech which refers to the juxtaposition of contrasting ideas.
  • Antithesis emphasises the opposition between two ideas.
  • The structure of the phrases / clauses is usually similar in order to draw the reader’s / listener’s attention directly to the contrast.
  • It involves the bringing out of a contrast in the ideas by an apparent contrast in the words, phrases, clauses, or sentences, within a parallel grammatical structure.


These are the common examples of antithesis:

  • “Man proposes, God disposes.”
  • “To err is human, to forgive, divine”
  • “Love is an ideal thing, marriage a real thing.”
  • “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
  • It is easier for a father to have children than for children to have a real father.
  • “Many are called, but few are chosen.”

Sample Antithesis Poem

Read the part of John Donne’s poem “Community

“Good we must love, and must hate ill,
For ill is ill, and good good still;
But there are things indifferent,
Which we may neither hate, nor love,
But one, and then another prove,
As we shall find our fancy bent.”

  • Two contrasting words “love” and “hate” are combined in the above lines. It emphasizes that we love good because it is always good and we hate bad because it is always bad. It is a matter of choice to love or hate things which are neither good nor bad.

Function of Antithesis

  •  When contrasting ideas are brought together, the idea is expressed more emphatically.
  • It helps bring forth a judgment on either the pros or the cons. This is after we examine the contrasting ideas.


Ø It refers to a deliberate exaggeration

  • It draws the attention to a message that the poet wants to emphasise.

Example:I was so hungry, I could eat an elephant.

  • Do not confuse it with understatement.

Sample Hyperbole Poems


In a house the size of a postage stamp
lived a man as big as a barge.
His mouth could drink the entire river
You could say it was rather large
For dinner he would eat a trillion beans
And a silo full of grain,
Washed it down with a tanker of milk
As if he were a drain.

What Am I?

I’m bigger than the entire earth
More powerful than the sea
Though a million, billion have tried
Not one could ever stop me.
I control each person with my hand
and hold up fleets of ships.
I can make them bend to my will
with one word from my lips.
I’m the greatest power in the world
in this entire nation.
No one should ever try to stop
a child’s imagination.

My Dog

His bark breaks the sound barrier
His nose is as cold as an ice box.
A wag of his tail causes hurricanes
His jumping causes falling rocks.
He eats a mountain of dog food
And drinks a water fall dry.
But though he breaks the bank
He’s the apple of my eye.

Poetry by Sharon Hendricks


  • A statement is deliberately weakened to sound ironical or softened to sound more polite.

Examples are:

  • I know a little about running a company. (a successful businessman might modestly say.)
  • I think we have slightly different opinions on this topic. (instead of: I don’t agree with you at all.)
  •  “It is just a little cool today” – when the temperature outside is 5° below zero.
  • “The food was tolerable” – on the food that was prepared by the best chef in the world.
  •   “It was ok” – when a top ranker was asked about his exam results.
  • “I wouldn’t say he was thin” – describing a very obese person.
  • “He is a little on the old side” – describing a very old person.
  •  “I wouldn’t say it tasted great” – on terrible food.

Sample Understatement Poem

Fire and Ice

By Robert Frost

Some say the world will end in fire,

Some say in ice.

From what I’ve tasted of desire

I hold with those who favor fire.

But if it had to perish twice,

I think I know enough of hate

To say that for destruction ice

Is also great

And would suffice.

Consider: I think I know enough of hate, to say that for destruction ice, is also great, and would suffice’

Rhetorical Questions

  • The author speaker raises a question that doesn’t need a direct answer.
  • The answer is seen  as obvious.
  • Rhetorical questions are used to provoke, emphasise or argue.
  • The line following the rhetorical question is not answer to it.

Sample Rhetorical Questons Poems

 What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore—
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over—
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?

How will i die

The more i think about it the more I wonder
will i die in a deep slumber?, or will the heavens send a angel for me.
will a car come from around the corner and hit me 
will a robber stick me up at gun point......will he squeeze the trigger and will the bullet land in my skull and then i die
will i die of cancer or some unknown bacteria 
will i die of an heart attack 
will i get food poising from my favorite dishes 
will i die from a lack of sleep 
will i die at the hands of mercy 
or at the hand the hands of my greatest enemy
will i be pushed from a tall mountain peek
oh how frustrating will i die not knowing how i will die 
should i treat this question as a rhetorical question
oh how will i die urggggggggggg!!!!!!!!!! 

Terrica Richards


  • Hypophora is a figure of speech in which a writer raises a question and then immediately provides an answer to that question.
  • The speaker asks a question and answers it.
  •  Hypophora is used to get the audience’s attention and make them curious.
  • The question is often raised at the beginning of a stanza and answered in the course of that stanza.
  • This kind of question can also be used to introduce a new topic of discussion.
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Examples are:

  • Why is it better to love than be loved? It is surer.
  • How many countries have actually hit the targets set at Rio, or in Kyoto in 1998, for cutting greenhouse-gas emissions? Precious few.
  • Should not be confused with rhetorical questions.

Difference between Hypophora and Rhetorical Question

The basic difference between hypophora and a rhetorical question is that in a rhetorical question the answer is not provided by the writer since it does not require an answer.

However, in hypophora, the writer first poses a question and then answers that question immediately.

Functions of Hypophora

  • The major purpose of using hypophora is to create curiosity among the readers.
  •  It helps to capture the attention of the audience.
  • However, hypophora can also be employed to introduce new discussions or topics of importance about which the readers might not have information.
  •  It can also be used as a directional device to change the topic.


Litotes is a form of understatement which uses the denied opposite of a word to weaken or soften a message.


  • That’s not bad. (instead of: That’s good/great.)
  • Money isn’t easy to find . (instead of: Money is  hard/difficult to find.)

·  They aren’t the happiest couple around.

·  He’s not the ugliest fellow around!

·  She’s not the brightest girl in the class.

·  The food is not bad.

·  It is no ordinary city.

·  That sword was not useless to the warrior now.

·  He was not unfamiliar with the works of Dickens.

·  She is not as young as she was.

·  You are not wrong.

·  Einstein is not a bad mathematician.

·  Heat waves are not rare in the summer.

·  It won’t be easy to find crocodiles in the dark.

·  He is not unlike his dad.

·  That’s no small accomplishment.

·  He is not the kindest person I’ve met.

·  That is no ordinary boy.

·  He is not unaware of what you said behind his back.

·  This is no minor matter.

·  The weather is not unpleasant at all.

·  She’s no doll.

·  That was no small issue.

·  The city is not unclean.

·  Rap videos with dancers in them are not uncommon

·  Running a marathon in under two hours is no small accomplishment.

·  She’s no idiot.

·  That’s not a meager sum.

·  You’re not doing badly.

·  That’s no mean feat.


Two things are compared directly by using ‘like’ , ‘as’, ‘similar to’etc.

Sample Simile Poems


Black as midnight,
Bad as the devil
With eyes like pieces of dark chocolate,
He thinks he’s king of the world,
My dog Berkley.
He’s very much like a pig
With his pudgy stomach and all.
Like a leech, he’s always attached
To his next meal.

Even though he’s as bad as the devil,
Berkley is my best fellow.


They are like flashlights in the night sky;
God’s little helpers guiding us on our journeys.
Stars are as bright as a lighthouse on an icy, ocean night;
they are like guardians committed to bringing you home.


Chirping non-stop, like a machine in the trees,
Building their nest like little worker bees.
They sing their songs, like chatter-boxes.
As regular as alarm clocks,
Waking people up each day.
They are silent at night,
Like snakes advancing on prey.

My Cat

Eyes like a green-yellow crayon,
Almost as bright as a ripe orange.
My cat rules my heart and my actions.
I am as a puppet on strings
When he purrs against me
Like I am a warm blanket heating him in the cold.

My Friend

She is as crazy as a rooster;
Still I love her like a sister.
Her hair is black and dark
Like the color of the midnight sky.
Her skin is as pale as flour
Placing her among the Twilight vampires.




Metaphor is a figure of speech where two things are compared in a figurative sense. Unlike in a simile (A is like B.), “like” is not used in metaphor (A is B.).


  • Truths are first clouds, then rain, then harvest and food. (Henry Ward Beecher)
  • Through much of the last century, America’s faith in freedom and democracy was a rock in a raging sea. Now it is a seed upon the wind, taking root in many nations.

Sample Metaphor Poem

A Broken Family Tree

Lori McBride

Published on February 2006

I am one of many
Small branches of a broken tree,
Always looking to the ones above
For guidance, strength and security.
One little branch trying
To keep the others from breaking away.
Who will fall?
And who will stay?
Now I stand alone,
Looking at the earth through the rain,
And I see the broken branches I knew
Scattered about me in pain.
There are those who have taken an ax
To the root of our very foundation
And who have passed this destruction
Down to every new generation.
If I could take that ax,
I would toss it deep into the sea,
Never to return again
To harm the generations that follow me.
I am one of many,
But alone I will go
And plant the new seeds
Where a beautiful tree will grow.


The pronounciation of the word imitates a sound. Onomatopoeia is used because it’s often difficult to describe sounds. Furthermore, a story becomes more lively and interesting by the use of onomatopoeia.


  • The lion roared.
  • The steaks sizzled in the pan.
  • The bomb went off with a bang.
  • My son swooshed the basketball into the net.
  •  Please do not whisper in the examination hall.
  •  The owl hooted as it sat in the tree.
  •  Boo. I scared you.
  •  Meow, where’s my milk, cried the cat.
  •  The jangle of her bracelets caught his attention.
  • Click, click. She made a sound with her tongue to show her displeasure.
  • The birds like to tweet outside my window.
  • Drip, drip, drip, went the faucet all day long.
  • Grandma loves to hear the pitter-patter of little feet around the house.

Sample Poems with Onomatopoeia

When The Lights Go Out

The door went creak
In the still of the night
The floor went bump
Oh what a fright
All of a sudden, we heard a chime
The grandfather clock was keeping good time
We turned down a hallway and heard a loud crash
It seems that someone had dropped all the trash
So many sounds when the lights go out
It’s enough to make you scream and shout!


I went for a ride with my Uncle Jay
He slammed the door shut and we were on our way
Then he revved the gas pedal, which was on the floor
What a lovely day, could I ask for more?
I wanted a hot dog so he slammed on the brake
It belched out a screech, for goodness sake
We finished our hot dogs in record time
We were out of that place by half past nine
He misplaced his keys
We were in a mess
I must admit, he started to stress
He picked up his soda started to sip
Eager to resume our wonderful trip
From inside the cup he felt something shake
A closer look he surely did take
His keys had fallen into that refreshing soft drink
And we figured it out when we heard the clink

The Precocious Teapot

The teapot whistled at the lovely young pot
She came to a boil at this unfortunate shot
When the pan saw what happened, he began to sizzle
The pot was his cousin and it made him grizzle
The faucet joined in with a whoosh of its water
It seems that the pot was his only daughter
The teapot was humbled and expressed his regret
It was an unfortunate gaffe he’d rather forget

The Construction Site

On my way home from school today
I stopped for sweets along the way
When I heard a thud that made me jump
It seems that a wrecking ball was in a dump
Bu this wasn’t a dump, I am not a fool
It was a construction site and it was so cool
I was startled by the rat-tat-tat of a loud jackhammer
It caused me to stumble and even to stammer
Then all of a sudden, I heard some loud taps
A hammer was banging
A new building perhaps?
One of the men had a brand new drill
It buzzed as it drilled; it was such a big thrill
Then I heard the beep beeping of a truck in reverse
What a great afternoon, I could sure have done worse!

City Street

Beep beep goes the taxi as the light turns green
He is in a hurry so he makes a huge scene
The police car let out a mighty wail
‘Honking your horn sir can land you in jail!’
Well that is not entirely true
But it can surely get you into a mighty big stew
A bus goes by with a mighty roar
With a sleeping passenger who started to snore
A traffic policeman whistled his whistle
The sound of that whistle made everyone bristle
It is true that the city is a busy, busy place
But said another way, It’s just a faster pace

Poetry by Alan Loren


  • Successive clauses or sentences are similarly structured.
  •  This similarity makes it easier for the reader / listener to concentrate on the message.
  • The normal progression of a sentence is interrupted by extra information or explanations enclosed in commas, brackets or dashes.
  • The extra information can be a single word, a phrase or even a sentence.

Examples of Parallelism:

  • The mediocre teacher tells, The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.
  • The mistakes of the fool are known to the world, but not to himself. The mistakes of the wise man are known to himself, but not to the world.
  • Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I may remember. Involve me and I will learn.
  • We are bound by ideals that move us beyond our backgrounds, lift us above our interest, and teach us what it means to be citizens.
  • Like father, like son.
  • Parallelism is a useful device for instructions. Due to the parallel structure, the reader can concentrate on the message and will immediately know what to do.

Sample Parallelism Poem

The Tyger

By William Blake

Tyger Tyger, burning bright, 

In the forests of the night; 

What immortal hand or eye, 

Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

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, & what art,

Could twist the sinews of thy heart?

And when thy heart began to beat,

What dread hand? & what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain, 

In what furnace was thy brain?

What the anvil? what dread grasp, 

Dare its deadly terrors clasp! 

When the stars threw down their spears 

And water’d heaven with their tears: 

Did he smile his work to see?

Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

Tyger Tyger burning bright, 

In the forests of the night: 

What immortal hand or eye,

Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?


  • Animals, inanimate objects or abstractions are given attributes of human beings.
  • Such attributes could be behaviour, feelings, character etc.
  •  Personification can make a poem more interesting and lively.


  • Why these two countries would remain at each other’s throat for so long. (3)
  • I closed the door, and my stubborn car refused to open it again.
  • The flowers nodded their heads as if to greet us.
  • The frogs began their concert.
  • Every morning my alarm clock springs to life; I hate it when that happens.
  • The peaceful and fun loving town close to the coast was swallowed by an angry tsunami.
  • The picture in that magazine shouted for attention.
  • With a lot of anger, the lighting lashed out from the skies.
  • Art is a jealous mistress. Money is a bad master.
  •  All of a sudden, the radio stopped singing and started to stare at me. It was hard to believe.
See also  Chapter Summary To An Artist Of The Floating World By Kazuo Ishiguro

Sample Personification Poems

Dinnertime Chorus

The teapot sang as the water boiled
The ice cubes cackled in their glass
the teacups chattered to one another.
While the chairs were passing gas
The gravy gurgled merrily
As the oil danced in a pan.
Oh my dinnertime chorus
What a lovely, lovely clan!

My Town

The leaves on the ground danced in the wind
The brook sang merrily as it went on its way.
The fence posts gossiped and watched cars go by
which winked at each other just to say hi.
The traffic lights yelled, ”Stop, slow, go!”
The tires gripped the road as if clinging to life.
Stars in the sky blinked and winked out
While the hail was as sharp as a knife.

Nature’s Chorus

Willows bend to their partners
while the spruces curtsey in response.
Cherry trees form a circle
and the oaks dance just like debutantes
of woodpeckers tapping on their trunks
and squirrels chattering in the boughs.
Listen to the sounds of nature’s chorus
What fun it does arouse!


Chipmunks chatter and scurry,
Blue jays scream and scold.
Robins talk and gossip
demanding their story to be told.
Squirrels skip and box one another
and rabbits play hop scotch.
The games they play, the sounds they make
Really are top notch.

The Gastronomic Gym

Pasta twirling and spinning,
peas do vertical jumps
mashed potatoes swimming.
meat doing bench press and pumps.
Food has begun to exercise
but it’s not in any gym.
My brother said its happening
right inside of him.


Words or phrases are repeated throughout the text to emphasise certain facts or ideas.


An oxymoron is a figure of speech that combines contradictory terms.


An oxymoron can be made of an adjective and a noun:

  • Dark light
  • Deafening silence
  • Living dead
  • Open secret
  • Virtual reality

Oxymoron can also be a combination of a noun and a verb.

  • The silence whistles

Sample Oxymora Poem

Read the poem below by Christopher and identify the use of oxymora.

A blind man looks back

Into the future with the

Ear-splitting whispers of

Unconcealed ghosts

Thundering silently.


A wealthy peasant marches

Weakly across a blazing glacier

As the stars in the cloudy sky

Glisten grimly.

~~~~ A hateful saint drowns afloat

Into the dismal heaven of peaceful war.


Solid water surges down a

Minuscule mountain into

A celestial hell.


A colossal dinghy raises

Its feather-light anchor

With vicious doves circling

In the bright winter sky.


  • Tone expresses the poet’s or speaker’s attitude toward the subject, the reader, or herself or himself.
  • Tone can shift through a poem.


  • The following are the common tone/attitude words:
1. 2. 3. 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27Accommodating  Accusatory Humorous Optimistic Pessimistic Sadistic Bitter Malicious Respectful Resigned Loving Understanding Spiteful Inferior Nostalgic Critical Cynical Ironical Patronizing condescending Satirical Slanderous   Supportive Contemptuous Judgmental obsequious  callous    derisive    .     ribald                            Willing to help. Also oblidging. charging of wrong doing. Making one laugh. Having hope. Having no hope. Being cruel to others. exhibiting strong animosity as a result of pain or grief. Intending to harm. Showing respect. Reluctantly accepting something unpleasant. Feeling or showing love. Sympathetic to Wanting to hurt /annoy/offend. Feeling smaller before. Have a look at the happy/good past. Pointing out mistakes in. Having little faith in. Meaning the opposite of. Belittle/consider inferior. a feeling of superiority Mocking/ ridiculing. Making false statement about. Giving help/encouragement Despising/ looking down upon. authoritative and often having critical opinions polite and obedient in order to gain something .        unfeeling, insensitive to feelings of others. ridiculing, mocking offensive in speech or gesture  

Tone Poems


BY Marjorie Oludhe Macgoye (Kenya)

Atieno washes dishes,

Atieno plucks the chicken,

Atieno gets up early,

Beds her sucks down in the kitchen,

Atieno eight years old

Atieno yo.

Since she’s my sister’s child

Atieno needs no pay

While she works my wife can sit

Sewing each sunny day,

With her earning I support

Atieno yo.

Atieno’s sly and jealous

Bad example to the kids

Since she minds them, like a school girl

Wants their dresses, shoes and beads.

Atieno ten years old,

Atieno yo.

Now my wife has gone to study

Atieno’s less free,

Don’t I feed her, school my own ones,

Pay the party, union fee

All for progress? Aren’t you grateful,

Atieno yo?

Visitors need much attention,

Specially when I work nights.

That girl stays too long at market

Who will teach her what is right?

Atieno rising fourteen,

Atieno yo.

Atieno’s had a baby

So we know that she is bad

Fifty-fifty it may live

To repeat the life she had,

Ending in post partum bleeding

Atieno yo.

Atieno’s soon replaced

Meat and sugar more than all

She ate in such a narrow life

Were lavished in her funeral

Atieno’s gone to glory

Atieno yo.

The tone is sympathetic to the child.

Ironic Tone

Read the poem “Building the Nation

The poet uses an ironic tone, and his choice of words clearly reflects his bitterness and anger about the pretence by leaders like the PS, who attempt to hide their greed and selfishness behind empty official meetings.

Nostalgia Poems

The two poems below have nostalgic tone.

  1. Nostalgia by  Billy Collins

Remember the 1340s? We were doing a dance called the Catapult.

You always wore brown, the color craze of the decade,

and I was draped in one of those capes that were popular,

the ones with unicorns and pomegranates in needlework.

Everyone would pause for beer and onions in the afternoon,

and at night we would play a game called “Find the Cow.”

Everything was hand-lettered then, not like today.

Where has the summer of 1572 gone? Brocade and sonnet

marathons were the rage. We used to dress up in the flags

of rival baronies and conquer one another in cold rooms of stone.

Out on the dance floor we were all doing the Struggle

while your sister practiced the Daphne all alone in her room.

We borrowed the jargon of farriers for our slang.

These days language seems transparent, a badly broken code.

The 1790s will never come again. Childhood was big.

People would take walks to the very tops of hills

and write down what they saw in their journals without speaking.

Our collars were high and our hats were extremely soft.

We would surprise each other with alphabets made of twigs.

It was a wonderful time to be alive, or even dead.

I am very fond of the period between 1815 and 1821.

Europe trembled while we sat still for our portraits.

And I would love to return to 1901 if only for a moment,

time enough to wind up a music box and do a few dance steps,

or shoot me back to 1922 or 1941, or at least let me

recapture the serenity of last month when we picked

berries and glided through afternoons in a canoe.

Even this morning would be an improvement over the present.

I was in the garden then, surrounded by the hum of bees

and the Latin names of flowers, watching the early light

flash off the slanted windows of the greenhouse

and silver the limbs on the rows of dark hemlocks.

As usual, I was thinking about the moments of the past,

letting my memory rush over them like water

rushing over the stones on the bottom of a stream.

I was even thinking a little about the future, that place

where people are doing a dance we cannot imagine,

a dance whose name we can only guess.


It was roses, roses, all the way, 
With myrtle mixed in my path like mad:
The house-roofs seemed to heave and sway, 
The church-spires flames, such flags they had, 
A year ago on this very day. 

The air broke into a mist with bells, 
The old walls rocked with the crowd and cries. 
Had I said, “Good fold, mere noise repels–
But give me your sun from yonder skies!”
They had answered, “And afterward, what else?”

Alack, it was I who leaped at the sun
To give it my loving friends to keep!
Nought man could do, have I left undone:
And you see my harvest, what I reap
This very day, now a year is run. 

There’s nobody on the house-tops now–
Just a palsied few at the windows set;
For the best of the sight is, all allow, 
At the Shambles’ Gate– or, better yet, 
By the very scaffold’s foot. I trow. 

I go in the rain, and more than needs, 
A rope cuts both my writs behind;
And think, by the feel, my forehead bleeds, 
For they fling, whoever has a mind,
Stones at me for my year’s misdeeds. 

Thus I entered, and thus I go!
In triumphs, people have dropped down dead. 
“Paid by the world, what dost thou owe
Me?”– God might question; now instead, 
‘Tis God shall repay: I am safer so. 


  • Mood is referred to as the atmosphere , as it creates an emotional situation that surrounds the readers. Mood is developed in a literary piece through various methods. It can be developed through setting, theme, tone and diction.

Common Mood Words

Agreeable Angry Nostalgic Sad Amusing Defiant Diffident Festive Indifferent Sorrowful  Melancholic Excited Remorseful Solemn Serene Violent Pleasing. Bitter with. Looking at the happy past. Not happy. Making one laugh. Opposing openly. Lacking self-confidence.  Joyous Not having interest in. Sad because sth bad has happened. Sad Happy. Showing regret/repentance. Not happy/not smiling. Calm/peaceful Use force/fighting.

Poem with Sad Mood

Waiting For My Dad

By Amy

I sit alone in the darkness
Waiting for him to come back to me.
Can he hear my cries?
Can he feel my tears?
Can he sense my breaking heart?
God only knows such a fact.
How can this be that he can’t see me?
Is it because I’m sitting alone in the darkness?
I just walk past everyone as if I were invisible.
Can he see me now?
Can he see the pain he’s caused me?
Or does he look past it?
I think I should move on,
But something tells me to wait.
It’s my heart.
I’ll give him one more chance
He needs to prove his love to me.
As I return to sit alone in the darkness…

Melancholic Mood Poem

On longer evenings,
Light, chill and yellow,
Bathes the serene
Foreheads of houses.
A thrush sings,
In the deep bare garden,
Its fresh-peeled voice
Astonishing the brickwork.
It will be spring soon,
It will be spring soon —
And I, whose childhood
Is a forgotten boredom,
Feel like a child
Who comes on a scene
Of adult reconciling,
And can understand nothing
But the unusual laughter,
And starts to be happy.

“The Trees.”

The trees are coming into leaf
Like something almost being said;
The recent buds relax and spread,
Their greenness is a kind of grief.

Is it that they are born again
And we grow old? No, they die too,
Their yearly trick of looking new
Is written down in rings of grain.

Yet still the unresting castles thresh
In fullgrown thickness every May.
Last year is dead, they seem to say,
Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.

Happy Mood Poem

So fine a day it is today
To the world I send out my hope and care
Happy and joyful I am so to all I must say
That I will remember you all in my prayer.

I woke up with a smile upon my face
After knowing again that I was still alive
And I am not ill through GOD and his grace
Another year and night I did survive.

The morning has begun and I am awake
And my wallet is full of money
I owe no bills my finances I will not break
So I will go out while it is nice and sunny.

I will greet all comers with a wave or a hello
As I am walking down the street
I am living for the day and not for long ago
And no strangers today will I meet.

I will feed the birds and I will pet the dogs
If I decide to walk to the park
And I will not be a nuisance to any who jogs
My day is a day of happiness as I do embark.

Today is such a beautiful day
So I decided to start it off with a pleasant attitude
I wished today was a holiday
Since I woke up in a joyful and happy mood.

Randy L. McClave


to understand the analysis of poetry, study the diagram below.

Now try to analyse the two poems below following the guidelines.

“It Was Long Ago”
Eleanor Farjeon I’ll tell you, shall I, something I remember?
Something that still means a great deal to me.
It was long ago. A dusty road in summer I remember,
A mountain, and an old house, and a tree
That stood, you know. Behind the house. An old woman I remember
In a red shawl with a grey cat on her knee
Humming under a tree. She seemed the oldest thing I can remember,
But then perhaps I was not more than three.
It was long ago. I dragged on the dusty road, and I remember
How the old woman looked over the fence at me
And seemed to know How it felt to be three, and called out,
I remember ‘Do you like bilberries and cream for tea?’
I went under the tree And while she hummed, and the cat purred, I remember
How she filled a saucer with berries and cream for me
So long ago, Such berries and such cream as I remember
I never had seen before, and never see
To day, you know. And that is almost all I can remember,
The house, the mountain, the grey cat on her knee,
Her red shawl, and the tree, And the taste of the berries, the feel of the sun I remember,
And the smell of everything that used to be
So long ago, Till the heat on the road outside again I remember,
And how the long dusty road seemed to have for me
No end, you know. That is the farthest thing I can remember.
It won’t mean much to you. It does to me.
Then I grew up, you see.

Read “The African Beggar” below and try your hand at analysing the poem.

African Beggar
Raymond Tong Sprawled in the dust outside the Syrian store,
a target for small children, dogs and flies,
a heap of verminous rags and matted hair,
he watches us with cunning, reptile eyes,
his noseless, smallpoxed face creased in a sneer. Sometimes he shows his yellow stumps of teeth
and whines for alms, perceiving that we bear
the curse of pity; a grotesque mask of death,
with hands like claws about his begging-bowl. But often he is lying all alone
within the shadow of a crumbling wall,
lost in the trackless jungle of his pain,
clutching the pitiless red earth in vain
and whimpering like a stricken animal.
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