Category Archives: Poetry Lessons

Poetic Terminology: Consonance

By Nikki Anne Schmutz

As a poet, it is vital to know poetry terminology! Awareness of the devices used to create specific poetry styles will help us broaden our own style and skill. As we learn – we recognize the device, we see how other writers utilize it in their poetry, and we begin to dabble in something new. Creating our own version of something we learn is like the final exam of self-study.

Today we look at the use of Consonance. In definition, Consonance is a poetic device characterized by the repetition of the same consonant two or more times in short succession, as in “pitter patter” or in “all mammals named Sam are clammy”. Consonance should not be confused with assonance, which is the repetition of vowel sounds.

Consonance is the opposite of assonance – which is the repetition of similar vowel sounds within a word, phrase, or sentence. There is also a distinction between consonance and rhyme. In rhyme, consonant sounds can be present at the beginning, middle, or end of successive words, not only at the ends of words.  Consonance should also be distinguished from alliteration.  Consonance involves repetition of consonant sounds only, not vowels.

Using consonance gives a lyrical feeling to poetry that cannot be added in other ways and can be used to clarify images outside the standard rhyme formats. It is a tool to employ in adding layers and emphasizing the underlying feeling and meaning in poetry.

Here are some examples of consonance:

Glass boss. (Using ss)

Mammals named Sam are clammy. (Using m)

Pitter-patter. (Using tt and er)

Slither slather. (Using sl, th and er)

 

One of my favorite poets, Emily Dickinson used repetition of consonant ‘m’ frequently through the poem to emphasize the words.

‘Twas later when the summer went
Than when the cricket came,
And yet we knew that gentle clock
Meant nought but going home.

‘T was sooner when the cricket went
Than when the winter came,
Yet that pathetic pendulum
Keeps esoteric time.

 

Have fun trying Consonance in your own poetry!

Advertisements

Poetic Terminology: Personification

By Nikki Anne Schmutz

As a poet, it is vital to know poetry terminology! Awareness of the devices used to create specific poetry styles will help us broaden our own style and skill. As we learn – we recognize the device, we see how other writers utilize it in their poetry, and we begin to dabble in something new. Creating our own version of something we learn is like the final exam of self-study.

Today we look at the use of personification. By definition, personification is a figure of speech in which a thing, an idea, or an animal is given human attributes. The non-human objects are portrayed in such a way that we feel they have the ability to act like human beings. For example, when we say, “The sky weeps” we are giving the sky the ability to cry and feel sorrow, a human quality. Thus personifying the sky. Other classic uses of personification are:

Look at my car, isn’t she a beauty?

The wind whispered.

The flowers danced.

The moon smiled.

Death had come.

Personification is a classical literary device. It is used in poetry to emphasize meaning and description. It gives the reader a reference to compare to. There are thousands of examples I could give you, but I will stick with one of my favorite poets of all time, Emily Dickinson.

Part Three: Love IX
Emily Dickinson (1830–86). Complete Poems. 1924.

HAVE you got a brook in your little heart,
Where bashful flowers blow,
And blushing birds go down to drink,
And shadows tremble so?

And nobody, knows, so still it flows,
That any brook is there;
And yet your little draught of life
Is daily drunken there.

Then look out for the little brook in March,
When the rivers overflow,
And the snows come hurrying from the hills,
And the bridges often go.

And later, in August it may be,
When the meadows parching lie,
Beware, lest this little brook of life
Some burning noon go dry!

 

Go ahead and try personification in your poetry!

Poetic Terminology: Synaesthesia

By Nikki Anne Schmutz

As a poet, it is vital to know poetry terminology! Awareness of the devices used to create specific poetry styles will help us broaden our own style and skill. As we learn – we recognize the device, we see how other writers utilize it in their poetry, and we begin to dabble in something new. Creating our own version of something we learn is like the final exam of self-study.

Today we look at the use of Synaesthesia. By definition, the word synesthesia usually refers to a psychological or neurological issue in which sensory stimulus from one sense is mixed up with another sense. Poetically it is used figuratively by mixing up the normal pairings to create a visually and emotionally charged representation.

Synaesthesia is used to describe sensory impression in a different way or sense, or perception in terms of a totally different or even opposite feeling.  For example: “darkness visible” or “green thought”.

Synesthesia appears in ancient literatures, including both the Iliad and Odyssey. In the 19th century it gained popularity. Writers such as Charles Baudelaire, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Dame Edith Sitwell, George Meredith, and Arthur Rimbaud all had a hand in cementing synaesthesia as a poetic device.

 

The Ragpickers’ Wine
BY CHARLES BAUDELAIRE

In the muddy maze of some old neighborhood,
Often, where the street lamp gleams like blood,
As the wind whips the flame, rattles the glass,
Where human beings ferment in a stormy mass,

One sees a ragpicker knocking against the walls,
Paying no heed to the spies of the cops, his thralls,
But stumbling like a poet lost in dreams;
He pours his heart out in stupendous schemes.

He takes great oaths and dictates sublime laws,
Casts down the wicked, aids the victims’ cause;
Beneath the sky, like a vast canopy,
He is drunken of his splendid qualities.

Yes, these people, plagued by household cares,
Bruised by hard work, tormented by their years,
Each bent double by the junk he carries,
The jumbled vomit of enormous Paris,—

They come back, perfumed with the smell of stale
Wine-barrels, followed by old comrades, pale
From war, mustaches like limp flags, to march
With banners, flowers, through the triumphal arch

Erected for them, by some magic touch!
And in the dazzling, deafening debauch
Of bugles, sunlight, of huzzas and drum,
Bring glory to the love-drunk folks at home!

Even so, wine pours its gold to frivolous
Humanity, a shining Pactolus;
Then through man’s throat of high exploits it sings
And by its gifts reigns like authentic kings.

To lull these wretches’ sloth and drown the hate
Of all who mutely die, compassionate,
God has created sleep’s oblivion;
Man added Wine, divine child of the Sun.

Poetic Terminology: Enjambment

By Nikki Anne Schmutz

As a poet, it is vital to know poetry terminology! Awareness of the devices used to create specific poetry styles will help us broaden our own style and skill. As we learn – we recognize the device, we see how other writers utilize it in their poetry, and we begin to dabble in something new. Creating our own version of something we learn is like the final exam of self-study.

Today we look at the use of enjambment. In definition, the running on of the thought from one line, couplet, or stanza to the next without a syntactical break. Enjambment literally means: to stride over. It is French in origins, circa 1930’s.

When using enjambment as a poetic device, one must feel the flow of their poetry, the meter presented. Breath and meter is a pronouncement in this style of this type poetry. Trailing off a thought from one line to the next is not easily done. You can’t neglect the words or meter when applying enjambment.

Here is the beginning of “The Waste Land” by T.S. Eliot, with only lines 4 and 7 end at an actual stopping point –

April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.”

E.E. Cummings was the master of enjambment! Most of his work I can’t even show you here on fb – the formatting won’t show correctly. Here is part of his poem titled “As Is The Sea Marvelous”.

as is the sea marvelous
from god’s
hands which sent her forth
to sleep upon the world

and the earth withers
the moon crumbles
one by one
stars flutter into dust

but the sea
does not change
and she goes forth out of hands and
she returns into hands

and is with sleep….

love,
the breaking

of your
soul
upon
my lips

Here is a poem of my own where I used enjambment:

Front Porch Thoughts
by Nikki Anne Schmutz

There are nights, I
sit alone on my porch –
waiting as evening slides
beyond the horizon, until
the neighbors have
all gone indoors.

I wait until I can be alone
in the air cooled by  dusk, as
day relaxes into night.
My eyes reach skyward,
my mind considers
a universe beyond my sight.

Below the brilliant sky
I commune with the heavens above,
as my feet touch the earth below.
Here I find harmony, between
the seen and unseen.
I enfold myself in possibilities.

I am but an ant in the scheme of
God and his plan.
Yet, I cannot betray the thought –
I am more than I seem.
Matchless me, unique in ways
valuable only to those who love me.

Let’s practice some enjambment!

Poetic Terminology: Anaphora

By Nikki Anne Schmutz

As a poet, it is vital to know poetry terminology! Awareness of the devices used to create specific poetry styles will help us broaden our own style and skill. As we learn – we recognize the device, we see how other writers utilize it in their poetry, and we begin to dabble in something new. Creating our own version of something we learn is like the final exam of self-study.

Today we look at the use of anaphora. In definition, anaphora is the repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of successive clauses. It is often used in speeches of all kinds, as well as in prose and poetry – as emphasis. Repetition of a concept is a powerful way to make sure the reader walks away with what we meant them to walk away with.

Writers such as William Blake, Paul Muldoon, and Johanna Klink have utilized this style. In fact, much of the great Walt Whitman’s work contains anaphora.

In the following piece by myself, I use the phrase “Paper folded” as anaphora as a tangible object representing life experiences shared through letters written to loved ones.

 

Paper Folded Letters By Nikki Anne Schmutz

Paper folded letters
Expressions transcribed
Exposing layers of soul
Paper folded sharing

Paper folded calendars
Daily adventures
Nightly musings
Paper folded moments

Paper folded intentions
Inscribed into words
Sent in perfumed
Paper folded envelopes

Paper folded aggression
Carved along measured lines
Pressure thick ink of
Paper folded arguments

Paper folded mountains
Of communicated emotion
Dedicated to love spanning
Paper folded time

Anaphora seems like simple repetition, but can be used with complexity. It is a focal point to the piece and an anchor to the ideas within. Write away!