Literature Questions

Assignment #1 – Reading Poetry Aloud i.e., The Sound of Poetry

Read the following short poems:

° Nikki Giovanni “Poetry”

° Rita Dove “Sonnet in Primary Colors” p.354

° Emily Dickinson “I’m Nobody! Who are You?” p.361

° Robert Frost “Fire and Ice” p.369

Read each of your four poems silently to yourself four times. Breathe deeply, and take your time. Sink into the poem and try to understand its soul.

Category 1

Next, summarize each poem in one or two sentences. How is sound working in the poem? What happens in the poem? Who is speaking? What is the poem’s message? What do you notice about the way that the poem sounds? Does this poem make use of any poetic sound devices that you learned about i.e., assonance, consonance, repetition?

Then read each one of your poems out loud four times, using four different voices. This is really fun. See if you can make a small child laugh. Read it with different emotions, like anger or grief. Or pretend you’re a favorite cartoon character. As you do this, get used to the rhythms of each poem and the play of words. Understand the persona. Listen to yourself speaking the poem out loud. Who are you? And who are you talking to?For each poem, write one or two paragraphs commenting on the experience of reading aloud. This writing exercise should be 4 – 8 paragraphs in length.

Category 2

Next, summarize each poem in one or two sentences. What happens in the poem? Who is speaking? What is the poem’s message?


Choose one of the poems from your set and write a 3-4 paragraph response in which you describe the pictures these poems create in your mind. Make specific reference to each poem’s use of metaphor and metonymy, as well as their imagery. Be sure to review these key terms/ideas in our textbook.


Here is an example to get you started, using a famous Ezra Pound poem:

In a Station of the Metro

The apparition of these faces in the crowd;

Petals on a wet, black bough.

I see a crowded subway platform, and out of the moving crowd of people, various beautiful faces take shape, one upon another. I get this particular picture for several reasons. I see the subway platform because of the title, and I see the crowd because the poem says there’s a crowd. The reason the crowd appears to be moving lies in the main feature of the poem, which is its metaphor. Essentially, the poem is nothing but a metaphor, where the second line is a metaphor for the first line. In other words, “petals on a wet, black bough” is a metaphor for “the apparition of these faces in the crowd.” To me, this means the crowd (bough) is moving and undifferentiated (wet, black) and the faces are incredibly beautiful (petals on a bough). In my picture, singularly beautiful faces take shape in succession because they are “apparitions.” They appear to me from the moving, undifferentiated mass of bodies (the crowd). Note: while metaphor and imagery are technical terms and therefore objective, interpretation is subjective. The point is, don’t get hung up on finding the correct meaning of a poem while learning the techniques of poetry, just dive in and share what you ‘see’!