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Poetry: A Picture of Your Feelings or
No, Virginia, Poetry Doesn't Have to Rhyme

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No Virginia, Poems Don't Have to Rhyme

A poet uses many tools to create a mood or feeling for the listener. Most poetry is meant to be read aloud.

Alliteration: Consonant sounds are repeated to create a mood.
You know alliterative patterns from tongue twisters:
She sells seashells by the seashore.
Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.

Here's a good example of an alliteration to create the feeling that the poet is actually running a stick long a
picket fence as he recites his piece. (David McCord reports that he did this many times as he was growing up and
still likes the sound of a stick on a picket fence today.)

The Pickety Fence
The pickety fence
The pickety fence
Give it a lick it's
The pickety fence
Give it a lick it's
A clickety fence
Give it a lick it's a lickety fence
Give it a lick
Give it a lick
Give it a lick
With a rickety stick

by David McCord

Rhythm: When you listen to many poems,
the rhythm or beat jumps right out at you. In fact some poems have such a strong rhythm that you start tapping
your toe, or clapping your hands.

Clearin' the land,
cuttin' the timber,
storin' up sorghum, molasses
and rye.
Puttin' down stakes,
raisin' up fence, diggin' new wells when the water runs dry.
Ploughin', plantin',
rakin' and hoein',
workin' all day on the homestead site. Churnin', weavin',
spinnin' and sewin',
until Saturday night.

Some rhythms make you want to get up and MOVE like in jump rope or handclap rhymes.

Miss Lucy had a baby,
She named him Tiny Tim.
She put him in the bathtub
To see if he could swim.
He drank up all the water.
He ate up all the soap.
He tried to eat the bathtub,
But it wouldn't go down his throat.

Other rhythms might make you think, or even feel sad and you can't quite figure out why.

There's a battlefield at Gettysburg where swords and sabers rust
and brothers who were flesh and blood are scattered in the dust.
But every night at Gettysburg when everything is still,
They say a golden bugle blows on Cemetery Hill.
Who was the unknown bugle boy at Gettysburg that day
And was he wearing Yankee blue or wearing Southern gray?

Repetition: Repeating certain elements to add to a sensation. A poet might repeat rhyme, alliteration, or even rhythm patterns.

A word invented to say a sound, like bang, swish, whoosh, or woof.
Never take a pig to lunch
Don't invite him home for brunch
Cancel chances to be fed
Till you're certain he's well bred.
Quiz him! Can he use a spoon?
Does his sipping sing a tune?
Will he slurp and burp and snuff
Till his gurgling makes you gruff?

Metaphor: a comparison where one thing is actually described or becomes another thing. A metaphor helps create pictures for your senses. Every once in a while, you forget what the original topic was until you are jolted back with a gentle hint from the poet.

A Train is a dragon that roars through the dark,
He wriggles his tail as he sends up a spark.
He pierces the night with his one yellow eye,
And all the earth trembles when he rushes by.


Giant Thunder
Striding home wonders if his supper's done.
He flings the burning coals about; see how the lightning flashes out!
Stamp no more from hill to hill [set dash] tomorrow you shall have your fill.
The morns are meeker than they were,
The nuts are getting brown;
The berry's cheek is plumper,
The rose is out of town.
The maple wears a gayer scarf,
The field a scarlet gown.
Lest I should be old-fashioned, I'll put a trinket on.

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