Poetry and Paragraphs: a 16-Week Course of Integrated Literature, Research, and Paragraph Writing for Middle School and Early High School



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Homework Day 3

Find a copy of “The Hunting of the Snark” by Lewis Caroll. Copy the poem into the Copywork section of your notebook, and mark the rhyme scheme as shown in the examples above.

Week 14: With a Sonnet Upon It

Show your homework to your teacher.


The Sonnet

One of the most common and famous forms of iambic poem, the sonnet consists of 14 lines of rhymed iambic pentameter. Different types of sonnet use different rhyme schemes.


Sonnets frequently use a two-part structure. The sonnet starts out by introducing the situation, but ends by turning to a conclusion or solution. If I wrote a sonnet about my cat, I might begin by explaining that my cat doesn't like me, but end by telling how I have learned patience from life with a hostile kitty.
Scan this poem by William Shakespeare for both meter (hint: Shakespeare takes a syllable out of some words by using an apostrophe, as in "possess'd." Those words don't scan the way the dictionary indicates, but Shakespeare does catch the way people really say the words). You may need to copy the poem into the Homework section of your notebook to give yourself room to work.
Vocabulary help:

Disgrace=state of shame

Beweep=cry

Bootless=useless (surprise! This word has nothing to do with footwear)

Possessed=having something

Art and scope=degree and variety of abilities

Haply=happily

Sullen=gloomy

Scorn=refuse or reject

When, in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes, 


I all alone beweep my outcast state 
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries 
And look upon myself and curse my fate, 
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope
Featured like him, like him with friends possess'd, 
Desiring this man's art and that man's scope, 
With what I most enjoy contented least
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising, 
Haply I think on thee, and then my state, 
Like to the lark at break of day arising 
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven's gate; 
For thy sweet love remember'd such wealth brings 
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

Count the syllables per line. Yep, about 10 syllables per line. Check to see exactly how many iambic feet you found in this poem. Yep, you found 5 feet in each line.


Yep, you can conclude that this poem is made up of rhymed iambic pentameter. Now, count the lines. Yep, 14 lines.
This poem fits the definition of a sonnet.
Now that we know we have a sonnet, we need to figure out a few more features of the poem. Before we get to the meaning, we should try to scan the rhyme scheme. Remember that we always mark the first line ending "A":
When, in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes,  A
I all alone beweep my outcast state  B
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries  A
And look upon myself and curse my fate,  B
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope, C
Featured like him, like him with friends possess'd,  D
Desiring this man's art and that man's scope,  C
With what I most enjoy contented least;  D (kind of)
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,  E
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,  B
Like to the lark at break of day arising  E
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven's gate;  B
For thy sweet love remember'd such wealth brings  F
That then I scorn to change my state with kings. F

You may have come up with something a little different, like ABAB CDCED EFEF GG. If your answer is really different from the answer I gave, have an adult help you read the poem aloud. Sometimes, hearing how to pronounce a word can help with identifying rhyme.


Now what does this thing mean? Remember that sonnets often come in two parts: a problem and a solution. This one has that typical structure.
In the first part of the poem, the speaker explains a problem. He sometimes feels that he is disgraced, that he needs the talents and abilities of others, that he can feel content with his life. We all feel those feelings sometimes, don't we?
In the second section, the speaker reports that thinking of "thee" makes everything seem better: it is a new day with larks singing "at heaven's gate." The speaker never tells who "thee" is; we have to decide for ourselves. Whether "thee" is God or Shakespeare's grandma, "thee" solves the problem by making the speaker feel better.

Day 1

Scan the meter of poem below. The poem tells about planting seeds along with some apple blossom petals that will feed the growing seeds. The speaker doesn't want to quit planting for supper time.


Have you ever enjoyed an activity so interesting that you didn't want to stop to eat? I'll bet you have.

"Putting in the Seed" by Robert Frost:


You come to fetch me from my work to-night

When supper's on the table, and we'll see

If I can leave off burying the white

Soft petals fallen from the apple tree

(Soft petals, yes, but not so barren quite,

Mingled with these, smooth bean and wrinkled pea;)

And go along with you ere you lose sight

Of what you came for and become like me,

Slave to a springtime passion for the earth.

How Love burns through the Putting in the Seed

On through the watching for that early birth

When, just as the soil tarnishes with weed,


The sturdy seedling with arched body comes

Shouldering its way and shedding the earth crumbs


Day 2

Scan the rhyme of "Putting in the Seed" and write a paraphrase of the poem. Remember that the speaker is the slave mentioned in the poem; he is made a slave to the seeds by his own great love for the way seeds grow.


Day 3
Revise your paraphrase following these criteria:
My paraphrase has a title

My name and the date appear in the top RIGHT corner

My paraphrase has a topic sentence

My paraphrase contains at least 3 supporting details

My paraphrase contains at least 4 sentence if am 10, and one more for each additional year of age

My paraphrase is free of errors in spelling/apostrophe use

My paraphrase contains no more than 2 forms of “to be”

My paraphrase contains no errors in grammar


Continue revising until your poem meets all of the grading criteria.



Week 15: What Do You See?

Show your homework to your teacher.
Now that you have learned iambic pentameter, you are a poetic meter pro. You know more about poetry than most of the grownups you will meet in your life. But this is week 15 in a 16 week course. We aren't done yet!
The final type of poem I'd like to show you is the concrete poem. Try entering the term "concrete poetry" in an Internet search engine. You might have to perform an image search. I would bet you see more than words. Concrete poems take the shapes of the objects they describe.
A poem about a robot would take a robot shape. A poem about a cat will take a cat shape. A poem about a boat will take a boat shape. In other words, concrete poetry is shape poetry.




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