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Modul Bahan Ajar



This module is designed for the students of the Study Program of
English, Department of Language and Literature, Faculty of Culture
Studies, University of Brawijaya, who are taking Poetry. It presents
theories and practices on poetry analysis using its intrinsic values
and biographical and historical approaches. Following the course
description, the analysis and discussion are focused on the 18th and
19th century poems. After completing this course, it is expected that
the students are able to analyze English poems, especially the 18th
and 19th century poetry, based on the intrinsic values, and
biographical/historical references when appropriate. It is expected
that there will be further improvement on the quality of this book.
Therefore, criticisms and suggestions for better editions are highly

Malang, 20 December 2013

The writers


Preface ................................................................................. i
Table of Contents ................................................................... ii

Unit I What is Poetry? ........................................................... 1

Unit II Versification in Poetry ................................................... 7
Unit III Denotation, Connotation, and Tone ................................ 16
Unit IV Figurative Language (1)
Simile, Metaphor, Allegory, and Antithesis ...................... 22
Unit V Figurative Language (2)
Personification, Apostrophe, Hyperbole, and
Euphemism ................................................................ 26
Unit VI Figurative Language (3)
Irony, Paradox, Metonymy, and Synecdoche .................. 30
Unit VII Imagery and Symbols.................................................. 33
Unit VIII Biographical Approach ................................................. 40
Unit IX Historical Approach ..................................................... 45

References ............................................................................ 51
Rencana Proses Kegiatan Pembelajaran Semester (RPKPS)… 53


Objective After finishing this unit, the students are expected to be

able to explain the definition of poetry, the general types
of poetry, and the basic approach to poetry.
Schedule and Meeting 1-2 Definitions of poetry, types of poetry, and
Materials basic approaches to poetry

Answer these questions. Then discuss them with your classmates.

1. Do you like poetry? Why or why not?

2. Where and when did you encounter with poetry for the first time?
3. What kind of poetry do you like most?


1. Definitions of Poetry
It seems that poetry is the least favorable literary work. In fact, poetry
can be regarded as the oldest as literary genre. Poetry has already existed
when the other genres have not invented yet. In British literary history, the
oldest literary work identified is in the form of a poem. Beowulf, an epic poem
consisting of thousands of line, is one of them. The mantra used by medicine
man/woman is also a poetic work. Now, in the twenty-first century poetry
remains to exist. Thus, we can say that poetry never dies. It is alive along
with human life.
Poetry is close to our life though we often do not realize it. The general
assumption that poetry is the most difficult work of literature often
discourages people to know it better or to enjoy it at least. Poetry is indeed
different from the other genres of literature- prose and drama. But this
difference is as common as the difference of prose from drama.
To define what poetry one can give his or her own understanding of it
because one’s perception about poetry is established by his/her experience.
We may directly refer as a group of lines arranged in a particular rule such as
meter, stanzaic form, and rhyme. It may sound superficial but its concentrated
form indeed makes poetry distinctive from other genres since the other
characteristics such as it is an expression of feeling and thought, or it

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entertains as well as teaches about human life are also embedded in other
Some definitions of poem are provided by some poets such as William
Wordsworth, Matthew Arnold and Ralph Waldo Emerson. Mathew Arnold says
that “Poetry is simply the most beautiful, impressive, and widely effective
mode of saying things”. William Wordsworth as a romantic poet defines it as
the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings which takes its origin from
emotion recollected in tranquility. Meanwhile R.W. Emerson says that “Poetry
teaches the enormous forces of a few words”.

2. Types of Poetry
In spite of the seemingly never-ending search for the definition of
poetry, there are several types of poetry to know. For the sake of clarification
and simplification, poetry can be classified into three types: lyric, narrative
and dramatic. Classifications of this kind are not exclusive. Poems in each of
these categories may have elements characteristics of the other.

a) Lyric poetry
It is the most popular form of poetry today. It is characterized by the
expression of the speaker’s innermost feelings, thoughts, and imagination. The
word lyric is taken from a stringed musical instrument called the lyre, which
was used in classical and medieval times to accompany a singer. In addition to
the very subjective stance of the speaker, lyric poems are melodic-melody not
derived from a lyre but from the words and their arrangement. It’s not mere
coincidence that the words that accompany the melody in a song are called
lyrics (Pickering and Hoeper, 1980)
Lyric poetry includes pastoral poem, love poem which is perhaps the most
familiar to us, poem of praise, ode, elegy etc. Pastoral poem is a poem telling
the life in the countryside such as shepherds, cattle, hills, and mountains. Ode
is a lyric poem that expresses a noble feeling with dignity. Elegy is a poem of

b) Narrative poetry
A narrative poem tells a story. The poet takes on a role similar to of a
narrator in a work of fiction. Ballad is narrative poem which is quite popular. It
is strongly marked by rhythm suitable for singing. Traditional British ballads
are written in quatrains, or four-line stanzas. Lines 1 and 3 have four beats;
lines 2 and 4 have three beats and rhyme. The traditional ballad is usually an
anonymous. It deals with the comedies and tragedies of everyday life. The
example of traditional ballad is Barbara Allan.

Barbara Allan
Anonymous (printed in Literature: Reading Fiction, Poetry, Drama and the
Essay by Robert DiYanni)

It was in and about the Martinmas time,

When the green leaves were a falling,
That Sir John Graeme, in the West Country,
Fell in love with Barbara Allan.

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He sent his man down through the town,
To the place where she was dwelling:
"O haste and come to my master dear,
Gin ye be Barbara Allan."

O hooly, hooly rose she up,

To the place where he was lying,
And when she drew the curtain by:
"Young man, I think you're dying."

"O it's I'm sick, and very, very sick,

And 'tis a' for Barbara Allan."
"O the better for me ye s' never be,
Though your heart's blood were a-spilling.

"O dinna ye mind, young man," said she,

"When ye was in the tavern a drinking,
That ye made the healths gae round and round,
And slighted Barbara Allan?"

He turned his face unto the wall,

And death was with him dealing:
"Adieu, adieu, my dear friends all,
And be kind to Barbara Allan."

And slowly, slowly raise she up,

And slowly, slowly left him,
And sighing said, she could not stay,
Since death of life had reft him.

She had not gane a mile but twa,

When she heard the dead-bell ringing,
And every jow that the dead-bell geid,
It cried, "Woe to Barbara Allan!"

"O mother, mother, make my bed!

O make it saft and narrow!
Since my love died for me to-day,
I'll die for him to-morrow."

When there is a traditional ballad, there must be the modern one.

Indeed, the popularity of ballad continues. Unlike the traditional one, which is
anonymous, the modern one is composed by a certain poet. The structure is
generally the same. An example of modern ballad is Ballad of Birmingham
written by Dudley Randall.
Another narrative poetry is epic. It is the longest narrative. Unlike the
ballad, it does not simply tell a single action but record a way of life. Like
traditional ballad, the traditional / old epic is anonymous. Beowulf, which
consists of around 3000 line is an example of English old epic. Later, some
poets their own, such as Dante’s Divine Comedy and John Milton’s Paradise

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c) Dramatic poetry
When a poet tries to break out of his or her own consciousness and
reach into the world of another, it results in dramatic poetry. Dramatic poetry
provides the reader an opportunity to hear the imagined thoughts of
characters who lack the poet’s opportunity of expression. The simplest form of
dramatic poetry is soliloquy. In soliloquy, the speaker is merely overheard,
talking to no one in particular. This form of poetry is also called dramatic
monologue (Bergman and Epstein, 1987,p.477-478). Some examples of
dramatic poetry are William Carlos William’s The Widow’s lament in
Springtime, and William Blake’s The Little Vagabond

3. Basic Approaches to Poetry

Reading poetry is an activity that can be done by anyone, but analyzing
it is another activity. The latter one is not merely to know what it means but
also to explain aspects embedded in a poem. To analyze poetry can be carried
out through various approaches. Even, we are supposed to examine a poem
from as many angles as possible to minimize the potential bias. However,
there are only three approaches will be discussed here because they are
included the fundamental ones. They are: objective, subjective, and thematic

a) Objective approach
This approach is considered the oldest and traditional one. An objective
approach to a poem begins with a complete description of the poem’s physical
properties such as its length, rhyme scheme and figures of speech. The
analysis does not stop at describing the physical properties or the basic
information of the poem. It should proceed to give more complex information
about why the poet chooses to include them and also how is the meaning of
the poem conveyed through the use of the technical devices.

b) Subjective approach
This approach begins with personal interest in the poem. We respond to
a poem based on our experience. When we use this approach, we do not
intend to be involved deeply in analyzing the poem’s structure. We are
concerned exclusively with what the poem means to us. This approach
therefore is the most like to produce a variety of interpretation.
This approach, however, has weakness in term of its relativity. Of
course merely depending on one’s own private experience will raise a situation
that any interpretation is correct. Thus, it would be wrong if we take an
exclusively subjective approach in analyzing a poem. We should consider the
various possible responses (Reaske, 1966). In addition, this approach can lead
to the ignorance of literary clues that one should take into account.

c) Thematic approach
Applying subjective approach sometimes also deals with the theme of
the poem because that is what we search for when we read a poem. When we
are reading or analyzing a poem, we always try to come to a certain
conclusion about its theme. As theme is the main idea of a work. It is the
poet’s view about phenomena presented in the poem. It usually provides an
insight about human life. Thus thematic approach attempts to find what a
poem is saying.

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4. Practice

1) Read the poem written by Emily Dickinson below and give your response to
it by answering the following questions. Write your answer in the space

A word is dead
When it is said,
Some say.
I say it just
Begins to live
That day.
Source: www.differentiatedkindergarten.com

a. What do you think is meant by a word’s being “dead” or beginning

to ”live”?
b. Do you agree with the poet?
c. Is this poem lyric, narrative or dramatic?

2) Make a group of three and discuss what the poem means by answering the
following questions. Write your answer in the space provided.

Source: downloadclipart.net

A Minor Bird by Robert Frost

I have wished a bird would fly away,

And not sing by my house all day;
Have clapped my hands at him
When it seemed I could bear no more.
The fault must partly have been in me
The bird was not to blame for his key
And of course there must be something wrong
In wanting to silence any song

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a) What does “minor” here mean?
b) Does the poem essentially talk about a bird or a human being?


1) Dead Poet’s Society (1989) is a critically-acclaimed popular movie about an

English teacher and his students in Welton Academy. Watch the movie and
observe the power and characteristics of poetry described in the movie.
Share your comments in class.
2) Find a poem and give response to it. Remember, the kind of approach
provided in the previous part is not intended to restrict your response. In
the process of understanding we may include the three approaches without
realizing or making a distinction. The more comprehensive your response,
the better it is.


Approach (v) : draw near to; advance forward

Approach (n) : the act of approaching; method or means of access
Ballad (n) : simple poem, especially one that tells an old story
Elegy (n) : a song or poem expressing sorrow or lamentation
especially for one who is dead
Objective (adj) : dealing with external facts and not with thoughts and
Ode (n) : poem, usually in irregular metre and expressing noble
feeling, often in celebration of event
Lyric poetry (n) : a poem characterized by the expression of the speaker’s
innermost feelings, thoughts, and imagination.
Narrative (n) : story or tale; orderly account of events
Pastoral (adj) : of or relating to the countryside or to the lives of people
who live in the country
Poetry (n) : the art of a poet; poems
Subjective (adj) : introspective
Theme (n) : subject of discourse or discussion; topic

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Objective After finishing this unit, the students are expected to be

able to identify and explain the meter, poetic feet,
rhythm, rhyme and stanzaic form of a poem
Schedule and Meeting 3-4 Prosody and stanzaic form of poetry


1. What is the correct pronunciation of this sentence? Add or change the

punctuation if possible. Does it change the meaning?

Ini jambu monyet.

2. Say hello to:

a. A friend you meet regularly
b. A friend you haven’t met for ten years
c. A neighbor you don’t like
d. A 6-month-old baby
Did you use similar intonations in the four situations? Why or why not?


Prosody (the pronunciation of a song or poem) is the general word
describing the study of poetic sounds and rhythm. Common alternative words
are versification (which can also be referred to as the study of the structure
of a verse), mechanics of verse, and music of poetry. Like music, poetry
often requires a regular beat, an appropriate speed and expressiveness of
delivery, which help the poets convey the meanings of their words or facilitate
the readers to understand the ideas, the emotions the poets communicate
through their words. Given these significant roles of sounds and rhythm of a
poem, readers may accept that the analysis of a poem’s prosodic technique
cannot be separated from that of its content. The following discussion is based
on Reaske (1966) and Kearns, Ackley, and Ferrara (1984).

1. Rhythm
In poetry, rhythm is created by the pattern of repeated sounds—in
terms of both duration and quality—and ideas. It is a combination of vocal
speeds, rises and falls, starts and stops, vigor and slackness, and relaxation
and tension. Rhythm is significant because poets “invite” us to change speeds
while reading—to slow down and linger or pass rapidly over some words and
sounds or to give more or less vocal stress or emphasis on certain syllables.
All these are related to emotions that are charged in the poem.

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a) Rhythm and scansion
Scansion is the act of scanning a poem to discover how the poem
establishes a metrical pattern—which syllables are accented (receive stress)
and which are not (receive no stress). The accented syllables are usually

marked with a bowl-like half circle called a breve ( ). Example:

1) Metrical feet
A line of a poem seems to be divided into a number of repeated units
combining the same number of accented and unaccented syllables. This unit is
called a poetic foot. To separate one foot from another, a slash (/) is used. Is
a pattern of one foot is repeated or varied in the entire poem, the pattern for
the poem is established. The followings are some names of poetic feet.

(a) The iamb (Adjective: iambic; consisting of 1 unaccented syllable followed

by 1 accented syllable)

(Wordsworth, The World Is Too Much with Us)

(b) The trochee (Adjective: trochaic; consisting of 1 accented syllable

followed by 1 unaccented syllable)

(Donne, Song)

(c) The spondee (Adjective: spondaic; consisting of 2 accented syllables)

(d) The anapest (Adjective: anapestic; consisting of 2 unaccented syllables

followed by 1 accented syllable)

(Key, Defence of Fort McHenry)

(e) The dactyl (Adjective: dactylic; consisting of 1 accented syllable followed

by 2 unaccented syllable)

(Swinburne, Songs before Sunrise)

(f) The pyrrhic (2 unaccented syllables)

(Tennyson, In Memoriam)

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As we examine the metrical feet, we also need to examine the metrical
line—the number of feet contained in a line. The types are as follows:

Number of feet in a line Name of line

1 Monometer
2 dimeter
3 trimeter
4 tetrameter
5 pentameter
6 hexameter
7 heptameter
8 octameter

For a complete description of poetic lines, we have to look at the

kind of foot and number of feet in the line. Therefore, the poetic lines
presented in the previous examples of metrical feet are called:
(a) Iambic pentameter
(b) Trochaic trimeter with an extra syllable
(c) Iambic trimeter with a sprung rhythm (a spondee) in the 3rd foot
(d) Anapestic dimeter
(e) Dactylic tetrameter
(f) Lesser ionic meter (Ionic meter is classical Greek meter comprising of four
syllables per foot. Greater Ionic meter consists of two long/stressed
syllables followed by two short/unstressed syllables, whereas Lesser Ionic
meter consists of two short/unstressed syllables followed by two
long/stressed syllables.)

2) Other rhythmic devices

(a) The caesura: The pause in a line, which is often best discovered by reading
the poem aloud. The pause is not necessarily punctuated. The caesura can
be marked with (//).
Milton! Thou shouldst be living at this hour. (Wordsworth, London, 1802)
The caesura in this line is after the word Milton.

(b) End-stopped line: A line of poetry that naturally pauses at the end of the
line (when it shows a complete clause or sentence); it is the opposite of
run-on line, where readers should not stop but read through to the next
(1) End-stopped line:
My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun.
Coral is far more red than her lips red. (Shakespeare, Sonnet 130)

(2) Run-on lines:

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds
Or bends with the remover to remove… (Shakespeare, Sonnet 116)

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2. Rhyme
Rhyme is the identical final syllables of words. Rhyme gives delight and
strengthens a poem’s psychological impact. The similar sounds help promote
our memory on the poem. Most often, rhymes are placed at the ends of lines.
Rhymes may appear in two successive lines, in alternating lines, or at intervals
of four, five, or more lines. However, if rhyming sounds are too far away from
each other, they lose their immediacy and effectiveness.
When we want to describe the rhyme pattern in a poem of a stanza, we
label the first sound at the end of a line “a”, the next “b”, then “c”, “d”, and so
forth. When a sound reappears, we use the same letter to label the sound. We
would then say that the pattern, or the rhyme scheme of a stanza or poem,
is abcbca, abba, etc.
There are several variations of rhymes. They are, among others:

a) Perfect rhyme and half rhyme

Perfect rhymes of exact rhymes occur when the stressed vowel following
sounds are identical like in slow - grow, fleet - street, or buying -crying. Half
rhymes occur when the final consonant sounds of the words are identical, but
the vowels are different, creating similar but not identical sounds (as in
quietness - express).

b) Masculine and feminine rhyme

Masculine rhyme occurs when the final syllables of the rhyming words
are stressed, such as inquired – desired. A feminine rhyme is the rhyming of
stressed syllables followed by identical unstressed syllables, like in flowers –

c) Internal rhyme
This is when the rhyming words are found within the line, often a word
in the middle of a line rhyming with the last word or sound of the line.
Example: Small feet were pattering, wooden shoes clattering,
(Browning, The Pied Piper of Hamelin)

d) Alliteration
It is the identical consonant sounds that start several words that are
close to each other. Check the following example. What effect do the repeated
sounds produce?
For winter's rains and ruins are over,
And all the season of snows and sins;
The days dividing lover and lover,
The light that loses, the night that wins;
(Swinburne, Chorus from Atalanta)

e) Assonance
The repetition of identical vowel sounds in different words that are close
to one another. One example is bird and thirst. (The er sound is identical in
both words.)

f) Consonance
Words have the same consonants but not the same vowel sounds, as in
pat and pit. Assonance and consonance are known as slant rhyme.

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g) Onomatopoeia
It is a blend of consonant and vowel sounds designed to imitate or
suggest a situation or action. This technique uses a word whose spund
suggests its meaning, such as buzz, crackle, hum, etc.

h) Blank verse
It is unrhymed iambic pentameter. Shakespeare’s plays and Milton’s
Paradise Lost are two popular examples.

i) Free verse
Some poetry is composed in lines which are free of the traditional
patterns of lines and meter. The rhythm is based on the stress resulting from
the meaning of the line and its natural and punctuated pauses.

3. Stanzaic Forms
A stanza is a group of lines in a poem. Ordinarily, each stanza follows a
particular rhyme scheme. Some of the more common stanzas are:
1) Couplet—a stanza of two lines which usually rhymes.
2) Triplet/tercet—a stanza of three lines
3) Quatrain--—a stanza of four lines
4) Sestet—a stanza of six lines
5) Septet—a stanza of seven lines
6) Rhyme royal—a stanza of seven lines written in iambic pentameter and
rhyming ababbcc
7) Octave—a stanza of eight lines
8) Sonnet —a stanza of fourteen lines
The Italian sonnet is divided into an octave (rhyming abba,abba) and a
sestet (rhyming cde, cde (or its variations) or cd,cd,cd). The octave usually
presents one idea, and the sestet gives an example. Besides, octave may
show a problem and the sestet talk about the solution. The
English/Shakespearian sonnets usually consist of three quatrains and one
couplet (abab, cdcd, efef, gg). The sonnet may present three arguments
concerning with its theme in the three quatrains and draw a conclusion in the
couplet. Therefore, it is suggested that sonnet is a perfect example of close
relationship of form and content in poetry.
9) Spenserian stanza
This stanza has nine lines; the first eight are iambic pentameter while
the last is iambic hexameter. The final line typically has a caesura, or break,
after the first three feet. The stanza rhymes ababbcbcc. An example of the
form is the first stanza of Spenser’s Book I of The Faerie Queene (Smith,

A gentle knight was pricking on the plaine,

Ycladd in mightie armes and silver shielde,
Wherein old dints of deepe woundes did remaine,
The cruell markes of many a bloody fielde;
Yet armes till that time did he never wield:
His angry steede did chide his foaming bitt,
As much disdayning to the curbe to yield:
Full jolly knight he seemed, and faire did sitt,
As one for knightly jousts and fierce encounters fitt.

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10) Ottava rima—a stanza of eight lines
The stanza consists of eight lines written in iambic pentameter. The
following example is from Byron’s Don Juan.

But words are things, and a small drop of ink,

Falling like dew, upon a thought, produces
That which makes thousands, perhaps millions, think;
'T is strange, the shortest letter which man uses
Instead of speech, may form a lasting link
Of ages; to what straits old Time reduces
Frail man, when paper—even a rag like this,
Survives himself, his tomb, and all that 's his.

4. Versification and Commentary on Alexander Pope’s Ode on Solitude:

an Example (Birkerts, 1996)

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“Ode on Solitude” is composed in five quatrains, with an a-b-a-b rhyme
pattern. The first three lines of every stanza are in iambic tetrameter, with
sprung rhythms, while the fourth line is in dimeter.
The first stanza begins with a trochee because the first syllable of the
word happy is naturally accented. The line then uses a regular pattern of
iambs. There are no caesuras. The fourth line, the dimeter, is scanned with
four stresses, though the first foot (In his) could be pronounced without
The second stanza is in iambs, and there is one caesura in the middle of
the first line.
The third stanza employs a number of variations in rhythm. The caesura
after the first syllable isolates the word Blest, so that it gets further emphasis.
Also, an exclamation mark (!) is a punctuation mark that marks the ending of
a statement, so a reader needs to pause on the mark. The speaker of the
poem wants the reader to pause and to savor what an exceptional thing such
a life would be. The double caesura in the next line, setting off "Hours," and
"days," which are both stressed, gives emphasis on these measures of time.
The fourth stanza has several interesting variations. The spondee in the
first foot enforces the soundness of the sleep, while the caesura in mid-line
again creates balance. But in the next line the speaker takes adds a syllable
and violates the strict regularity. This is because he is introducing the idea of
recreation, which is itself a departure from the orderly rhythms of work.
"Meditation" in the fourth line adds an extra syllable to maintain the overall
The final stanza is emphatic, loaded with extra stresses. The two
caesuras in the first line mark out the speaker's solitariness. The two spondees
in the very last line echo the two at the end of the first stanza, carrying a link
between the ground that a person lives on and the ground that the person is
buried in.

5. Practice

Daffodils by William Wordsworth

I wandered lonely as a cloud

That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed--and gazed--but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought Source: Iobi, 2010

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For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

1) Identify the rhyme scheme and the stanzaic form.

2) Read the poem aloud in natural pronunciation. Pay intonation to stress and
pitch. Write notes as necessary.
3) Scan the poem; put the stress marks on the syllables as necessary.
4) Identify the metrical pattern. What are the dominant metrical foot and line
5) Are there any relationships between the rhythmical pattern and the
speaker’s ideas and attitudes?

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6) How do the characteristics you have identified in no. 1, 4, and 5 relate to
idea or theme of the poem?


1) Daffodils

a) Are there any alliterations, assonances, or onomatopoeia in Daffodils? If

any, what is the significance of these techniques on the content on the
b) Do you remember the last time you enjoyed nature? How did you feel
that time? Was it similar to the speaker’s feeling in the poem? Share
with the class.
c) Take time to go out to a park, a beach, a rice field, etc where you can
be closer to the nature. What do you see there? Take a photo and share
the experience to the class.

2) I like to see it lap the miles by Emily Dickinson

I like to see it lap the miles,

And lick the valleys up,
And stop to feed itself at tanks;
And then, prodigious, step
Around a pile of mountains,
And, supercilious*, peer
In shanties by the sides of roads;
And then a quarry pare
To fit its sides, and crawl between,
Complaining all the while
In horrid, hooting stanza;
Then chase itself down ill

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And neigh like Boanerges**;
Then, punctual as a star,
Stop--docile and omnipotent--
At its own stable door.

a) According to lines 1-2, what does “it” (the subject of the poem) “lap” and
b) Name three places to which “it” travels. What words describe its
movements in these places?
c) What does the poet refer to as “it” in the poem?
d) Read the poem out loud and take notes of the syllables and accents in each
e) Does the poem follow a regular or irregular rhythm? Explain.
f) How does the punctuation affect the rhythm?


Boanerges (n) : booming preacher

Supercilious (adj) : proud, arrogant

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Objective After finishing this unit, the students are expected to be

able to define and explain denotation, connotation, and
tone in a poem.
Schedule and Meeting 5 denotation, connotation, and tone

1. Does the word “hand” in the two contexts below have the same meaning?
a. Ow! I broke my hand.
b. Could you give a hand?
2. Do the two expressions below have the same meaning?
a. What a beautiful day!
b. What a beautiful day?


1. The Meaning of Words

One of the characteristic of poetry is the use of words in a new way. The
word is uniquely used that a reader or listener may not understand what it
means. How can a poet make his reader understand words with a new way?
How can he make a word that first sounds dull become alive, how can his
words appeal the readers?
Our understanding of language, whether as readers or listeners, relies
almost on two factors: our knowledge of the meaning of individual words and
our recognition of context. At first, we concern with the meaning of individual
words, but soon we become aware that meaning is largely determined by
context and by the interrelationship of words in a sentence. Each word in
a language is distinguished from every other word by its unique combination
of denotation and connotations. Poetry is the form of writing that welcomes
the eccentricities of word. Therefore, no word in great poetry can be moved or
replaced without changing and perhaps harming the whole. An understanding
of the meaning of individual words, therefore, is the first step in understanding

a) Denotation
A word is only an accurate tool of communication if it conveys the same
idea to both the speaker and the listener; yet the meanings of words
continually change and, despite the existence of dictionaries, can only be said
to mean what people think they mean. New words are continually entering the
language and old words dropping out or changing their implications.
Furthermore, the same words can mean different things to different people or
to different contexts. If, for example, we say of someone, “He is a bit red”, we

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may mean that he is embarrassed, sunburned, or attracted to Communism.
So is the word “mistress”; its meaning has changed. It used to be a praise for
a woman wife of noble-blood, but now it is used for disparaging a woman lack
of a marriage–license (Pickering and Hoeper,1980).
The various meanings of the words above are all denotations – that is,
they are listed as definitions in nearly any good dictionary. We know that
nearly every word has many definitions and that its denotation in particular
instance will depend largely on the context. Therefore, the first step to do in
understanding a poem is to understand thoroughly each word in it. Often, the
best clues to the meaning of an unfamiliar word are to be found within the
poem itself. (Pickering and Hoeper,1980)

b) Connotation
As it is well-known, denotation refers to the dictionary meaning of a
word. Connotation, on the other hand, is determined by the ideas associated
with or suggested by the word. Denotation is the meaning a word gives to a
sentence; connotation is the verbal coloring a word takes on from those
sentences in which it is commonly used. Denotative meaning is closely related
to the history, association and the environment where the word is used.
Therefore, a word’s connotation, like its denotation, may change over time.
Here are some examples of connotations. The word “flower” denotes a
part of plant, but it connotatively means girl, beauty and delicacy. The word
“childlike” and “childish” both mean an attitude and behavior of a child, but
they have different meanings. “childlike” means “meekness’, “innocence”,
while “childish” means “foolishness” and “willfulness”. Denotation is quite
important for a poet because it can enrich the meaning of each line he/she
writes (“saying more in fewer words”).

2. Tone
The tone of a poem is the attitude that we feel in it. It is the writer's
attitude and feeling toward the subject. Neglecting the existence of tone in
poetry can mislead our understanding of the poem. Sometimes tone is fairly
obvious but sometimes it is not. Thus, we have to read the poem carefully to
be able to discover its tone. How can we find the tone of a poem? A poet can
put forward his/her underlying sentiments through the rhythm, images and
word choices. So, by analyzing those aspects we can figure out the attitude of
the poet. Indeed, poets refine their language, but they usually wish to achieve
the spontaneity of sincere expression. (Bergman and Epstein, 1987)
There are several kinds of tone that we can find in a poem. When read a
poem of praise, we can feel the tone of approval. In a poem such as “Richard
Cory” by Arlington, we can feel irony. Tone can be playful, humorous,
regretful, angry, neutral and didactive/ convincing. The followings are some
examples of poem with different tone.

a) A poem with subtle/neutral tone

To the Young Housewife by William Carlos William (1883-1963)

At ten A.M. the young housewife

moves about in negligee behind
The wooden walls of her husband’s house.
I pass solitary and in my car.

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Then again she comes to the curb
To call the ice-man, fish-man, and stands
Shy, uncorseted, tucking in
Stray ends of hair, and I compare her
To a fallen leaf.
The noiseless wheels of my car
Rush with a crackling sound over
Dried leaves as I bow and pass smiling
(taken from Bergman &Epstein, 1987 p.606-607)

In this poem, the speaker tells about a woman that he finds attractive.
Instead of saying,” What a beautiful housewife!”, he seems to be cool in
describing the woman. He does not exaggerate her charm. He only compares
her to a fallen leaf. In this poem, we can feel a restraint of expression.
Therefore, it sounds neutral.

b) A poem with didactic tone

Success is Counted Sweetest by Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

Success is counted sweetest

By those who ne’er succeed.
To comprehend a nectar
Requires sorest need.
Not one of all the purple host
Who took the flag to-day
Can tell the definition,
So clear, of victory,
As he, defeated, dying,
On whose forbidden ear
The distant strains of triumph
Break, agonized and clear.
(taken from the Heath Guide to Literature, Bergman and Epstein, 1987, p.
A poem with a didactic poem usually aims to teach. Because of its
purpose, the tone is distinctive and convincing. In Emily’s poem above,
especially in the first quatrain, it is clearly seen that it teaches the readers
about struggle that one needs to gain/feel success. By presenting it like a
lesson, a proportion (the first quatrain) is followed by illustrations (2nd and 3rd

c) A poem with comic tone

There Was a King (Anonymous, in Bergman and Epstein,1987)

There was a King and he had three daughters,

And they all lived in a basin of water;
The basin bended,
My story’s ended.
If the basin had been stronger,
My story would have been longer.

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A poem has a comic/amusing tone when the poet has a comic attitude
toward the subject. The comic tone is usually an effect of feminine rhyme. A
comic poet’s repertoire has two popular tricks namely pun and spoonerism.
The pun is a play on words with similar sounds or on a single word with
different meanings, while spoonerism is a slip of the tongue that exchanges
the parts of two words. For example,” Let’s sit by the fire and spin” becomes
Let’s spit the fire and sin”. (Bergman and Epstein,1987)

3. Practice
Exercises no 1-5 have been from Poetry Booklet adapted from Sound
and Sense, Eighth Edition by Laurence Perrine and Thomas R. Arp.
a) Which word in each group has the most “romantic” connotation?
a. horse, steed, donkey
b. king, ruler, tyrant
c. rose, flower, plant
2) Which word in each group is the most emotionally connotative?
a. female, mother, dam
b. offspring, children, progeny
c. brother, sibling
3) Arrange the words in each group from most positive to most negative in
a. skinny, thin, gaunt, slender
b. prosperous, loaded, moneyed
c. brainy, intelligent, eggheaded, smart
4) In the following examples the denotation for the word white remains the
same, but the connotations differ. Explain.
a) The young princess had blue eyes, golden hair, and a breast as white as
b) Confronted with the evidence, the young princess turned as white as a

5) Please identify and explain the connotative meaning of the lines below.
a) Remember me when I am gone away,
Gone far away into the silent land; (Christina Rossetti)

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b) The soul selects her own society,
Then shut the door; (Emily Dickinson)
c) Forgive us, mother
as we have taken your gold
and ignored your beauty

6) Read the short poem below and answer the following questions.

The Adversary by Phyllis McGinley

A mother’s hardest to forgive.

Life is the fruit she longs to hand you,
Ripe on a plate. And while you live,
Relentlessly she understands you.

a) What word in the poem is nearest to the title in its connotation?




b) What is the tone of the poem?





Denotation(n) : The dictionary meaning of a word

Connotation (n) : meaning determined by the ideas associated with or
suggested by the word
Tone (n) : is the writer's attitude and feeling toward the subject
Didactic (adj) : instructive
Comic (adj) : funny

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Pun (n) : a play on words with similar sounds or on a single word
with different meanings
Spoonerism (n) : a slip of the tongue that exchanges the parts of two

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Simile, Metaphor, Allegory, and Antithesis

Objectives After finishing this unit, the students are expected to be

able define and explain simile, metaphor, allegory, and
antithesis in a poem.
Schedule and Meeting 6 simile, metaphor, allegory, and antithesis

1. What do you know about figurative language?
2. Have you ever heard people use figurative language in daily conversation?
If you ever heard it, can you give the example?
3. In your opinion, what is the function of figurative language used in poetry?


1. Simile, Metaphor, Allegory, and Antithesis

Figurative language is a way to deliver meaning other than the literal
meaning of the words. Sometimes, the words are used to describe thing or
condition by comparing it to something else. In short, figurative language is a
kind of language which employs various figures of speech. Using figurative
language is a way to captivate readers’ interest. It allows us to deliver our
idea and imagination in more entertaining way.
There are a lot of kinds of figurative language. Some of them are:
1. Simile
2. Metaphor
3. Allegory
4. Antithesis
5. Personification
6. Apostrophe
7. Hyperbole
8. Euphemism
9. Irony
The following sections discuss the definition and examples of these
figures of speech. The definitions are taken from Reaske (1966).

a) Simile
Simile is a figure of speech in which two things are compared using ‘as’,
‘as when’, ‘like’, ‘than’, or other equivalent constructions. Simile asserts
Example: "My love is like a red, red rose" (Robert Burn).

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In this example, the speaker compares his love to a red rose using the word
‘like’, suggesting that the two objects are similar, so the figure of speech used
in this line is simile.

b) Metaphor
Metaphor is a figure of speech which directly compares one thing to
another. It is used when a writer feels that two terms are identical instead of
merely similar. It established an analogy between two objects. Generally, it is
formed through the use of some form of the verb “to be”.
Example: All the world’s a stage” (Shakespeare).
From the example above, the speaker directly compares ‘all the world’ to ‘a
stage’ using the verb ‘is’. This kind comparison can be categorized as a

Both metaphor and simile contain two parts. The first one is the
principle or primary term, which is the one that conveys the literal statement.
The second one is the secondary term, which is used figuratively to add color
to the principle or primary term.

c) Allegory
Allegory is an extended or prolonged metaphor. We can say that an
allegory has two meanings, the literal meaning and the symbolic one. The
literal meaning is a metaphor for the real meaning behind it. Using allegory,
an auhor can present one thing in the guise of something else. A story which
contains of allegory usually contains a series of actions which are in fact
represent other actions.
Example: Animal Farm by George Orwell
Animal Farm is a fable about a group of animal in a certain farm that
want to gain their own freedom, which leads them into a series of events. This
fable is actually an allegory of the Russian Revolution.

d) Antithesis
Antithesis is a condition where a pair or more of strongly contrasting
ideas or terms are presented together. It produces an effect of tension caused
by the contradiction of the words.
Example: “In doubt to deem himself a God, or Beast;
In doubt his Mind or Body to prefer;
( Alexander Pope )
The words ‘God’ and ‘Beast’, as well as ‘Mind’ and ‘Body’, which are are
contradictory to each other, are presented together to produce a certain effect
caused by the contradiction of the words.

2. Practice
Go back the poems Daffodils by William Wordsworth and The Adversary
by Phyllis McGinley. Identify and explain the metaphor and simile used in the

Try to create your own simile and metaphor. It can be about people,
objects or situations around you. Tell your classmates about it and ask them
to guess the meaning of the simile or metaphor. Discuss the answers.

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Simile (n) : a figure of speech in which two things are compared using
‘as’, ‘as when’, ‘like’, ‘than’, or other equivalent
constructions. Simile asserts similarity
Metaphor (n) : a figure of speech which directly compares one thing to
another. It is used when a writer feels that two terms are
identical instead of merely similar. It established an analogy
between two objects. Generally, it is formed through the use
of some form of the verb “to be”
Allegory (n) : an extended or prolonged metaphor. We can say that an
allegory has two meanings, the literal meaning and the
symbolic one
Antithesis (n) : a condition where a pair or more of strongly contrasting ideas
or terms are presented together. It produces an effect of
tension caused by the contradiction of the words

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Personification, Apostrophe, Hyperbole, and Euphemism

Objective After finishing this unit, the students are expected to be

able to identify and explain the personification,
apostrophe, hyperbole, and euphemism in a poem.
Schedule and Meeting 7 personification, apostrophe, hyperbole,
Materials and euphemism


1. When you hear someone say “Fear knocked on the door”, what do you
have in mind? Do you imagine that Fear really knocks your door?
2. People tend to exaggerate something. Can you give an example?


1. Personification
Personification is a type of figurative speech in which human
characteristics are attributed to nonhuman objects, abstractions, or ideas. The
poet describes them as if they were real people.
Example: "The Night was creeping on the ground! She crept and did not make
a sound" (James Stephens)
In the example above, the narrator addresses the Night using the word ‘she’,
as the one that is capable to ‘crept and did not make a sound’ just like a real
human being.

2. Apostrophe
Apostrophe is a limited form of personification. It occurs when a poet or
one of his characters addresses a speech to a person, animal, idea, or object.
Example: “To you, my purse, and to non other wight
Complayne I, for ye be my lady dere!”
(Geoffrey Chaucer)
Here, the speaker speaks to his purse as if it is a real person that is able
to understand his words and feeling.

3. Hyperbole
Hyperbole is a kind of figure of speech in which exaggeration is used to
emphasis a statement in an extreme way and to produce a very dramatic
Example: “In faith, I do not love thee with mine eyes,
For they in thee a thousand errors note,”
Although it may be true that when we look at someone, i.e. analyze a
the person, we will find that the person is not perfect, yet the statement that

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the speaker can see “a thousand errors” in the other person still sounds

4. Euphemism
Euphemism is a kind of figure of speech which substitutes obvious and
explicit words with the less direct ones. Euphemism catches the readers’
attention more than the blunt and unappealing words.
Example: the sun “blossomed out of the horizon”, means the sun “rose”.
The words ‘blossomed out of the horizon’ are used to substitute the word
‘rose’ to attract the readers more since those words create a different mood
and atmosphere.

5. Practice
Now study this poem and answer the following questions.

“Hope” is the Thing with Feathers by Emily Dickinson

Hope is the thing with feathers

That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;

And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I've heard it in the chillest land,

And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

Source: thepictureofmylife.tumblr.com

1) Read the poem aloud. Pay attention to the pronunciation.

2) Can you mention and explain any figurative speech found in this poem?
3) What is probably the message of the first stanza?

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4) Can you describe the mood and the atmosphere of this poem?

C. Independent Study

My Star by Robert Browning

All that I know

Of a certain star
Is, it can throw
(Like the angled spar)
Now a dart of red,
Now a dart of blue;
Till my friends have said
They would fain see, too,
My star that dartles the red and the blue!
Then it stops like a bird; like a flower, hangs furled:
They must solace themselves with the Saturn above it.
What matter to me if their star is a world?
Mine has opened its soul to me; therefore I love it.

Study questions

1. What does the speaker’s star do in the first six lines of the poem?
2. According to lines 7-8, do his friends see his star?
3. To what two things does the speaker compare his star in line 10?

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4. According to the last line, how does the speaker feel about his star, and
why does he feel this way?
5. In what way does the speaker’s connection to his star set him apart from
other people? What might the speaker mean when he says that his star has
“opened its soul” to him?
6. Can you think of other things that might inspire the sort of affection the
speaker feels for his star? Why might people develop such feelings?


Personification (n) : a type of figurative speech in which human

characteristics are attributed to nonhuman objects,
abstractions, or ideas. The poet describes them as if
they were real people.
Apostrophe (n) : a limited form of personification. It occurs when a poet
or one of his characters addresses a speech to a
person, animal, idea, or object.
Hyperbole (n) : is a kind of figure of speech in which exaggeration is
used to emphasis a statement in an extreme way and
to produce a very dramatic effect
Euphemism (n) : is a kind of figure of speech which substitutes obvious
and explicit words with the less direct ones. Euphemism
catches the readers’ attention more than the blunt and
unappealing words.

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Irony, Paradox, Metonymy, and Synecdoche

Objectives After finishing this unit, the students are expected to be

able to identify and explain the irony, paradox,
metonymy, or synecdoche employed in a poem.
Schedule and Meeting 8 irony, paradox, metonymy, and
Materials synecdoche


When you want to mock someone or indirectly criticize someone for bad
thing that he did, what do you say and how do you say it?


1. Irony
Irony is used to convey the opposite of their literal meaning. Irony is a
kind of result from the contrast between the actual meaning of a statement
and the suggestion of another meaning. It is actually a mockery of what is
literally being stated. Irony can be light and playful. A heavier version of irony
is sarcasm, where harsh words are usually used.
Irony can take on a number of different forms. Dramatic irony is when
the state of affairs known to the reader is the reverse of what its participants
suppose it to be. Situational irony is built when a set of circumstances turns
out to be the reverse of what is appropriate or expected. The most common
form of irony is verbal irony, which involves a contrast between what is
literally said what is actually meant (Pickering and Hoeper, 1986).

2. Paradox
Paradox is a kind of statement that is true in some sense, although it
appears self-contradictory and absurd at first. Its primary purpose is to atrrack
attention and produce dramatic effect.
"Freedom is slavery."
"Ignorance is strength."
(George Orwell, 1984)
Freedom is contradictory to slavery; yet, the sentence ‘freedom is slavery’ is
not that far from the truth since in this life, even we have our own freedom,
we still have to obey every rule that affects our way of life.

3. Metonymy
Metonymy is replacing the word that is actually meant with something
associated with an object or idea. In other words, one word is substituted with
another word which is closely associated.
Example: the Americans speak of the government as the “White House”.

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The words ‘White House’ is already known as the term used to address the
government of America.

4. Synecdoche
Synecdoche is a condition where a part of something is used to
represent the whole thing, or where the whole thing is used to represent a
part of it.
Example: “She wept with waking eyes” (George Meredith).
England won a gold medal in that event.
The one that won a gold medal was an athlete from England, not the whole
England; yet, the word ‘England’ is used to address the winner

5. Practice
Now study the following poem and answer the questions.

She Walks in Beauty by Lord Byron

She walks in beauty--like the night

Of cloudless climes and starry skies,
And all that's best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes;
Thus mellowed to the tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.
She walks in beauty--like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies,

One ray the more, one shade the less

Had half impaired the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress
Or softly lightens o'er her face--
Where thoughts serenely sweet express
How pure, how dear their dwelling place.
She walks in beauty--like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies,

And on that cheek and o'er that brow

So soft, so calm yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow
But tell of days in goodness spent
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent.
She walks in beauty--like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies,

1) How does the speaker describe the lady in the poem?


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2) What kind of figurative speech does the speaker mostly use?
3) Describe about the mood and the atmosphere of the poem.
4) According to the last stanza, how does the author feel about the lady?

Find more examples of irony, paradox, metonymy, and synecdoche in
poems or song lyrics. Compare your findings with your classmates’.


Irony (n) : a kind of result from the contrast between the actual
meaning of a statement and the suggestion of another
Metonymy (n) : replacing the word that is actually meant with something
associated with an object or idea.
Paradox (n) : a kind of statement that is true in some sense, although it
appears self-contradictory and absurd at first
Synecdoche (n) : is a condition where a part of something is used to
represent the whole thing, or where the whole
thing is used to represent a part of it

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Objectives After finishing this unit, the students are expected to be

able to identify and explain imagery and symbols in a
poem and the speaker’s tone in a poem.
Schedule and Meeting 10 Imagery, symbols


1. Describe what you see in this picture. Use as many descriptive details as

Source: collorvalley (2013)

2. Some colors are said to show some characteristics. For example, the color
black usually means death, darkness, or sadness, while white represents
purity, peace, or surrender. Do you know what these colors mean?
a. Blue _____________________________________________
b. Gold _____________________________________________
c. Green _____________________________________________
d. Pink _____________________________________________
e. Red _____________________________________________
f. Purple _____________________________________________
g. Yellow_____________________________________________
h. Grey _____________________________________________

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1. Imagery
Imagery is “images, pictures, or sensory content, which we find in a
poem. Images are fanciful or imaginative descriptions of people or objects
stated in terms of our senses.” (Reaske, 1966, pp. 34-35) According to
Abrams (1999), imagery includes visual sense qualities and qualities that are
auditory, tactile (touch), thermal (heat and cold), olfactory (smell), gustatory
(taste), and kinesthetic (sensations of movement). For example, in William
Wordsworth's She Dwelt among the Untrodden Ways, the readers can
experience visual images of the literal objects the poem refers to (for
example, “untrodden ways," "springs," "grave") and visual images of the
"violet" of the metaphor and the "star" of the simile in the second stanza.

SHE dwelt among the untrodden ways

Beside the springs of Dove,
A Maid whom there were none to praise
And very few to love:

A violet by a mossy stone

Half hidden from the eye!
--Fair as a star, when only one
Is shining in the sky.

She lived unknown, and few could know

When Lucy ceased to be;
But she is in her grave, and, oh,
The difference to me!

On the other hand, in TS Eliot’ s Burnt Norton, kinesthetic imagery is

presented in So we moved, and they, in a formal pattern, Along the empty
alley, into the box circle,To look down into the drained pool (Llorens, n.d.)
because readers are to experience doing the movement (not seeing the
movement). In analyzing imagery, a reader is not supposed to focus on
finding the images only but also to look at each and see if there is a pattern of
imagery that may show a hidden meaning in the poem.

2. Symbols
A symbol is the use of a concrete object to represent an abstract idea.
In a literary work, it may appear in the form of a word, a figure of speech, an
event, the total action, or a character in which the object a person, object or
situation represents something beyond the literal meaning. When a picture or
representation is repeated over and over again, it becomes a symbol (Reaske,
1966). Symbols are traditionally recognized through conventions because
there has been a previous agreement on their meanings, that they can be
used to represent a more universal meaning in addition to their literal
meanings. However, there are also personal symbols, such as symbols that
one poet uses repeatedly in his works, which may cause difficulty in the
interpretation as the symbols can be unique (Abrams, 1999). Therefore, it is
necessary to study the background of the author and the work to decide
whether there is a symbol in the work and whether it is a conventional or
personal symbol. An object may also symbolize different things in different

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cultures. For example, one culture may regard the color red as a symbol of
prosperity or courage, while in another society it is associated with anger or
Abrams (1999) gives an example of the word rose as a symbol. The
literal meaning of rose is a kind of flower. In William Blake's poem The Sick
Rose we read:

O Rose, thou art sick.

The invisible worm
That flies in the night
In the howling storm
Has found out thy bed
Of crimson joy,
And his dark secret love
Does thy life destroy.

The rose is a rose, but it is also something more than a rose: words such as
bed, joy, love, are not literally related to an actual flower. There is also a
sinister tone and the intensity of the lyric speaker is s feeling that suggests the
object has another meaning besides just being a flower. The implicit
suggestions in the poem—the sexual connotations, in the realm of human
experience, of bed and love, in relation to joy and worm—supplemented by
our knowledge of similar elements and topics in his other poems lead us to
infer that the speaker’s lament for a rose which has been entered and
damaged by a dark and secret worm symbolizes the destruction created by
secrecy, deceit, and hypocrisy in a frank and joyous relationship of physical
The followings are some conventional symbols summarized from
Chevalier and Gheerbrant (1996) and Hancock (1972) cited in Louis (n.d.)
a. Nature and time
1) Seasons
 Spring: birth, new beginning
 Summer: maturity, knowledge
 Autumn: decline, nearing death, growing old
 Winter: death, sleep, stagnation
2) Weather
 Rain: sadness, despair, new life, divine influence on earth
 Wind and storms: violent human emotions
 Fog/mist: prevents clear vision or thinking, isolation, a development
phase when shapes have not been formed (mist),
 Lightning: the spark of life, power or strength
 Rainbows: pathways between earth and heaven, cycles of rebirth,
prologue to disturbance
 Thunder: the voice of God or gods
3) Time
 Morning: purity, the beginning, the time of God’s blessings
 Day/light: hope, sanity, clarity
 Night/dark: despair, madness, unknown
 Sunrise: new beginning
 Sunset: ending

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4) Plants
 Tree: life, family, nature, origins
 Flower: beauty, youth, gentleness
 Weeds: evil, wildness, outcast of society
 Thorn: pain
5) Water: washes away guilt, origin of life, regeneration, vehicle of
6) River: fluidity of life, stream of life and death
7) Moon: changing and returning shape, feminine symbol
8) Sun: source of life, masculinity
9) Mountain: stability, safety, human pride, places where heaven and
earth meet
10) Silver: object or harms of desires, female principle
11) Gold: wealth, the reflection of heavenly light, male principle
12) Pearl: knowledge, wealth
b. Animals
1) Dove: peace, purity, simplicity
2) Fox: slyness, cleverness
3) Lion: power, pride
4) Snake: temptation, evil
5) Mouse: shyness, meeknees
6) Lamb: sacrificial element
7) Owl: wisdom, messenger of death
8) Cats: cunning, forethought, ingenuity
c. Human body parts
1) Blood: qualities of fire, vital and bodily heat
2) Bones: strength and virtue (because bones contain marrow)
3) Hands: strength or weakness
4) Eyes: windows to the soul or emotions
5) Mouth: indicates character traits
d. Objects
1) Chain: ties two beings or extremes
2) Mirror: separation (a broken mirror), a happy marriage (unbroken)
3) Key: having the power and authority of letting in and shutting out
4) Ladder: ascension and realization of potential
5) Tower of Babel: confusion, human pride
e. Setting
1) The forest: a place of evil or mystery
2) A garden: paradise
3) Window: freedom (or lack of thereof)
4) Bed: consummation of marriage

3. Practice on imagery and symbols

1) Reread the poem Daffodils by William Wordsworth and identify the
imagery it presents.

Page | 36
2) Read William Blake’s Ah Sunflower below. Does sunflower symbolize
something? In connection with the theme, why do you think the speaker
uses the symbol?

Ah Sunflower, weary of time,

Who countest the steps of the sun;
Seeking after that sweet golden clime
Where the traveller's journey is done;

Where the Youth pined away with desire,

And the pale virgin shrouded in snow,
Arise from their graves, and aspire
Where my Sunflower wishes to go!


Study these poems and answer the questions.

Sympathy by Paul Laurence Dunbar

I know what the caged bird feels, alas!

When the sun is bright on the upland slopes;
When the wind stirs soft through the springing grass,
And the river flows like a stream of glass;
When the first bird sings and the first bud opes,
And the faint perfume from its chalice steals—
I know what the caged bird feels!
I know why the caged bird beats his wing
Till its blood is red on the cruel bars;
For he must fly back to his perch and cling
When he fain1 would be on the bough a-swing;
And a pain still throbs in the old, old scars
And they pulse again with a keener sting—
I know why he beats his wing!
I know why the caged bird sings, ah me,
When his wing is bruised and his bosom sore,—
When he beats his bars and he would be free;
It is not a carol of joy or glee,
But a prayer that he sends from his heart's deep core,
But a plea, that upward to Heaven he flings—
I know why the caged bird sings!

Page | 37
1) Why is the poem entitled “Sympathy”? How does the title connect to the
theme of the poem?
2) How is the bird used as a symbol? How is it personified? Why did
Dunbar choose a bird to express his feelings?

CXXVIII by Emily Dickinson

I heard a fly buzz when I died;

The stillness round my form
Was like the stillness in the air
Between the heaves of storm.
The eyes beside had wrung them dry,
And breaths were gathering sure
For that last onset, when the king
Be witnessed in his power.
I willed my keepsakes, signed away
What portion of me I
Could make assignable,-and then
There interposed a fly,
With blue, uncertain, stumbling buzz,
Between the light and me;
And then the windows failed, and then
I could not see to see.

1) What is happening to the speaker in this poem? How is she dealing with it?
2) What is the speaker expecting to see? What happens instead?

Page | 38
3) How is the fly used as a symbol in this poem?
4) In the poem, find an example of the following:
a) Metaphor
b) onomatopoeia
c) simile


bosom (n) : the chest; especially when considered as the source of emotion
chalice (n) : a bowl-shaped drinking vessel or goblet
Imagery (n) : “images, pictures, or sensory content, which we find in a
poem. Images are fanciful or imaginative descriptions of
people or objects stated in terms of our senses.” (Reaske,
1966, pp. 34-35)
Symbol (n) : the use of a concrete object to represent an abstract idea

Page | 39

Objectives After finishing this unit, the students are expected to be

able to identify and explain an extrinsic aspect of a poem,
which is the biography of the poet.
Schedule and Meeting 11 Biographical approach

1. Have you ever written a poem? What triggered you to do so? Was it based
on your own life experience?
2. When someone loses his/her beloved one, what does he or she probably do
to express his/her feeling of loss?


1. Biographical Approach
We basically can gain understanding of a poem without knowing the
poet because the poem is a finished product of the poet’s creativity. When it
has been composed, the meaning emerges by itself as the result of the poem’s
structure. Therefore, one poem may arise various interpretations by its reader.
Yet, knowing some information about the poet to some extent is fruitful
although it will not change one’s understanding of the poem in any large way,
one should at least know of the biographical elements behind it.
When we examine the poem in relation to what is known about the
poet’s life, we apply what is called biographical approach. Often a particular
poem is subject to this kind of analysis simply by nature of the material. For
example, in these following lines from Henry Vaugham’s “The Retreat”, the
poet is discussing his desire to return to childhood:

O how I long to travel back

And tread again that ancient track!
There I might once more reach that plain,
Where first I left my glorious train,
From whence th’enlightened spirit sees
That shady City of Palm Trees;
But (ah!) my soul with too much stay
Is drunk, and staggers in the way.
Some men a forward motion love,
But I by backward steps would move,
And when this dust falls to the urn.
In that state I came return.
It would be considerably easier to interpret this passage if we knew
something of the life and particularly of the childhood of Henry Vaughan.
There is of course a mixture here of sincere statement of personal conviction

Page | 40
and of poetic statement of fanciful but less important desire. To understand
thoroughly the poet’s actual or final feelings about the desirability or
enjoyability of childhood, we need to know something about his own
childhood. (Reaske,1966,p.54-55)

3. Practice
Read these poems and answer the questions that follow.

a) Annabel Lee by Edgar Allan Poe

It was many and many a year ago,

In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
By the name of Annabel Lee;
And this maiden she lived with no other thought
Than to love and be loved by me.
She was a child and I was a child,
In this kingdom by the sea,
But we loved with a love that was more than love—
I and my Annabel Lee;
With a love that the winged seraphs of heaven
Coveted her and me.
And this was the reason that, long ago,
In this kingdom by the sea,
A wind blew out of a cloud by night,
Chilling my Annabel Lee;
So that her high-born kinsman came
And bore her away from me,
To shut her up in a sepulchre
In this kingdom by the sea.
The angels, not half so happy in heaven,
Went envying her and me—
Yes!—that was the reason (as all men know,
In this kingdom by the sea)
That the wind came out of the cloud, chilling
And killing my Annabel Lee.
But our love it was stronger by far than the love
Of those who were older than we—
Of many far wiser than we—
And neither the angels in heaven above
Nor the demons down under the sea,
Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee.
For the moon never beams without bringing me dreams
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And the stars never rise but I see the bright eyes
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling—my darling—my life and my bride,
In her sepulchre there by the sea,
In her tomb by the side of the sea.

Page | 41
1) Read “Annabel Lee” poem written by Edgar Allan Poe by heart. Then,
read it aloud. While you are reading it, does it produce a rhythm?
2) Identify the rhyme scheme and the stanzaic form.
3) Scan the poem; put the stress marks on the syllables as necessary.
4) Identify the metrical pattern. What are the dominant metrical foot and
line length?
5) What was the cause of Annabel Lee’s Death?
6) What is the one adjective that the poet uses to describe Annabel Lee?
Why do you suppose the poet repeats this adjective many times? Find
another phrase that is repeated several times throughout the poem.

Page | 42
7) What figures of speech do you find in the poem?
8) What is the mood of this poem? Does the narrator sound unhappy?
9) Do you think that the poet refers to someone he knows in his life?
Explain the evidence.
10) Why does the poet create the poem in the setting of a fairy tale?

Source: Larson (n.d.)

b) The Soul Selects Her Own Society By Emily Dickinson

The soul selects her own society,

Then shuts the door;
On her divine majority
Obtrude no more.
Unmoved, she notes the chariot's pausing
At her low gate;
Unmoved, an emperor is kneeling
Upon her mat.

Page | 43
I've known her from an ample nation
Choose one;
Then close the valves of her attention
Like stone.

1) Why does the soul shut the door?

2) What does the poem mean?
3) What information of the poet that is useful for you to understand this


1) Try to find a poem which its theme related to the life of the poet.
2) Give your interpretation of the poem you get, and share it with your friend.


Covet (v) : yearn to possess or have something

Maiden (n) : girl, unmarried woman
Sepulchre (n): tomb

Page | 44

Objectives After finishing this unit, the students are expected to be

able to analyze a poem by using historical approach.
Schedule and Meeting 12 Historical approach

1. Have you ever found a poem which its language seems “old” to you? What
difficulties did you find in spite of the language?
2. What does the word “book” means to you? Is it possible that it may mean
something a bit different for people in a certain age?


1. Historical Approach
One of the most common approaches used in poetry analysis is referred
to as the historical method of literary criticism. This means that you interpret
the poem within the story, or contemporary frame of reference behind the
poem. In other words, to discuss an Elizabethan sonnet, you must have a
broad knowledge of the sonnet form, know something about how it evolved,
and how it was generally meant to be understood in Elizabethan times. The
historical approach insists that a poem’s meaning can only be understood
within a historical setting. That is, those who use the historical approach do
not allow for the possibility of making a completely interpretative reading of a
poem. You would not acknowledge as a legitimate analysis the subjective or
psychological approaches, and would never base your conclusions on
something mutable as the meaning of imagery unless you could understand
the poem’s imagery in historical terms. You would say, for example, “to the
seventeenth century reader the word X would have meant Y because…”
The 19th century is often called as the Romantic Era, when the Romantic
Movement emerged to revolt against convention and authority in a search for
personal freedom in personal, politic and artistic life. The Romantic Movement
… a reaction against the intellectualism of the Enlightenment,
against the rigidity of social structures protecting privilege, and
against the materialism of an age which, in the first stirring of
the Industrial Revolution, … The romantic temperament responds
to emotion rather than reason, is excited by mystery rather than
persuaded by clarity, listens more intently to the individual
conscience than to the demands of society, and prefers rebellion to
acceptance (Gascoigne, 2001).

Page | 45
Some characteristics of the era, according to Romanticism:
introduction to romanticism (2009) are listed below.
1. The imagination was elevated to a position as the supreme faculty of the
mind. This contrasted distinctly with the traditional arguments for the
supremacy of reason. The Romantics tended to define and to present the
imagination as our ultimate "shaping" or creative power, the approximate
human equivalent of the creative powers of nature or even deity. It is
dynamic, an active, rather than passive power, with many functions.
2. "Nature" meant many things to the Romantics. ... nature as a healing
power, nature as a source of subject and image, nature as a refuge from
the artificial constructs of civilization, … , Romantics gave greater attention
both to describing natural phenomena accurately and to capturing
"sensuous nuance"—
3. Emphasis on the activity of the imagination was accompanied by greater
emphasis on the importance of intuition, instincts, and feelings, and
Romantics generally called for greater attention to the emotions as a
necessary supplement to purely logical reason.
4. The Romantics asserted the importance of the individual, the unique, even
the eccentric.

2. Practice
Now study this poem and answer the following questions.

The Tables Turned by William Wordsworth

Up! Up! my friend, and quit your books,

Or surely you’ll grow double:
Up! Up! my Friend, and clear your looks;
Why all this toil and trouble?

The sun, above the mountain’s head

A freshening lustre mellow
Through all the long green fields has spread,
His first sweet evening yellow.

Books! tis a dull and endless strife;

Come hear the woodland linnet,
How sweet the music! On my life,
There’s more wisdom in it.

And hark! How blithe the throstle sings!

He, too, is no mean preacher;
Come forth into the light of things;
Let nature be your teacher.

She has a world of ready wealth,

Our mind and hearts to bless_
Spontaneous wisdom breathed by health,
Truth breathed by cheerfulness.

Page | 46
One impulse from a vernal wood
May teach you more of man,
Of moral evil and of good,
Than all these sages can.

Sweet is the lore that nature brings;

Our meddling intellect
Misshapes the beauteous forms of things__
We murder to dissect.

Enough of science and of Art;

Close up those barren leaves;
Come forth, and bring with you a heart
That watches and receives.

1) Identify the stanzaic form and the rhyme scheme.

2) Identify the metrical pattern. What are the dominant metrical foot and line
3) What are his ideas about the nature of birds and trees?
4) What is the poet’s attitude toward nature?
5) Do you agree with Wordsworth that we can learn more from nature than
from pages of the past or knowledge collected in book, as he says?

Page | 47
6) Is nature always as harmonious as he pictures?
7) How does this poem show the characteristics of Romanticism?
8) From your own knowledge, give instances of warring elements and cruelty
in nature.

Read the poem London by William Blake and answer the following
questions to reveal the historical background of the poem.

London (1794)

I wander through each chartered street,

Near where the chartered Thames does flow,
A mark in every face I meet,
Marks of weakness, marks of woe.

In every cry of every man,

In every infant's cry of fear,
In every voice, in every ban,
The mind-forged manacles I hear:

How the chimney-sweeper's cry

Every blackening church appalls,
And the hapless soldier's sigh
Runs in blood down palace-walls.

But most, through midnight streets I hear

How the youthful harlot’s curse
Blasts the new-born infant's tear,
And blights with plagues the marriage hearse.
(Taken from Bergman and Epstein,1987)

Page | 48
1) What does the speaker mean when he calls the streets and river
2) Do the “charter’d” streets and river relate to the expression of faces the
speaker meets?
3) What does the speaker mean by “mind-forg’d manacles?
4) In what sense does the chimney sweeper’s cry appall the church?
5) What historical aspect do you find in the last stanza?


Ban (v) : order with authority hat something must not be done
Chimney (n) : structure through which smoke from a fire is carried away
Harlot(n) :prostitute
Linnet (n) : small brown songbird
Luster(n) :quality of being bright
Manacle (n) : chain
Mellow (n) : soft and sweet in taste
Plague (n) : a kind of disease characterized with spots on skin

Page | 49
Romantic (adj): having ideas, feelings,etc remote from experience
and real life; given to romance
Sage (n) : wise people
Toil (n) : hard work
Vernal (adj) : springlike

Page | 50

Abrams, M.H. (1999). A glossary of literary terms 7th ed. Boston: Heinle &

Birkerts, S.P. (1996). Literature: the evolving canon, 2nd edition. A Simon &
Schuster Company: Needham Heights.

Bergman,David and Epstein (1987). The Heath Guide to Literature, 2nd edition.
Massachusetts: D.C. Heath and Company.

Collorvalley. (2013). Beauty girl face artwork illustration. [image] Retrieved

September 5, 2013 from 123rf.com

Daffodils. (n.d.). [image]. Retrieved September 5, 2013 from


Gascoigne, B. (2001). Encyclopedia of Britain: romantic movement.

Romanticism. Retrieved September 10, 2012 from

Kearns, Ackley, and Ferrara. (1984). Apreciating Literature. New York:

Macmillan Publishing Co.

Larson, A. (n.d.). [Annabel Lee]. Retrieved September 5, 2013 from


Louis. (n.d.). Symbols. Retrieved September 5, 2013 from


Pickering, J.H. and Hoeper, J.D. (1980). Concise Companion to Literature.

New York: Macmillan Publishing Co. Inc.

PoemHunter.com. (2004). William Blake poems. Retrieved September 5, 2013


Reaske, C. R. (1966). How to Analyze Poetry. New York: Monarch Press Inc.

Roberts, E.V. and Jacobs, H.E. (1998). Literature: an introduction to reading

and writing, 5th edition. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Romanticism: introduction to romanticism. English Department, Brooklyn

College. Retrieved September 10, 2012 from

Smith, R. (n.d.). The Spenserian stanza. Retrieved September 5, 2013 from


Page | 51
The Pennsylvania University. (2012). The poems of Emily Dickinson. Retrieved
September 5, 2012 from

________ (n.d.). [image]. Retrieved September 5, 2013 from


Page | 52

Mata kuliah : Poetry (3 SKS)

Kode : SBI 4244
Jurusan : Bahasa dan Sastra

Semester : Genap/IV
Program Studi : S-1 Sastra Inggris
Dosen : Tim
1. Juliati, M.Hum. 3. Ni Wayan Swardhani, S.S.
2. Arcci Tusitta, S.S., M.Hum. 4. Aris Siswanti, S.S., M.Pd.

Deskripsi Singkat :
Mata kuliah ini merupakan mata kuliah wajib yang harus diikuti seluruh mahasiswa
Sastra Inggris dengan bobot 3 SKS. Mata kuliah ini bertujuan memberikan
pengetahuan dan ketrampilan menelaah puisi secara komprehensif baik dari sisi
struktur maupun elemen ekstrinsik atas puisi abad 18 hingga abad 19 baik dari
Inggris maupun Amerika. Unsur-unsur instrinsik puisi seperti basic versification, gaya
bahasa, imagery menjadi tahap awal sebelum menggali unsur-unsur ekstrinsik seperti
latar belakang pengarang, zeitgeist, dll untuk memperoleh telaah komprehensif atas
puisi. Materi terkait puisi yang telah diperoleh pada mata kuliah Introduction to
Literature dan periodisasi sastra dalam mata kuliah History of English Language and
Literature menjadi landasan bagi mahasiswa untuk bisa berpartisipasi aktif dalam
perkuliahan. Kompetensi yang ingin dicapai dalam mata kuliah ini adalah mahasiswa
mampu menelaah puisi abad 18 dan 19 secara komprehensif baik dari sisi intrinsik
maupun ekstrinsik.

Pelaksanaan Kuliah:
(1) (2) (3) (4) (5)
an =150
1-2 1. Mampu 1. Kontrak Diskusi 1. Mampu
memahami Kuliah menyebutkan
kontrak 2. Definisi tujuan, topik,
perkuliahan puisi dan kriteria
2. Mampu penilaian
menjelaskan matakuliah
definisi puisi, Poetry
jenis-jenis 2. Mampu
puisi, dan menyebutkan
pendekatan definisi puisi dan
dasar analisa menentukan
puisi jenis puisi

3-4 Mampu Versification in Ceramah, 1. Mampu

mengidentifikasi poetry diskusi, dan menyebutkan
dan menjelaskan praktek definisi
unsur-unsur meter,cpoetic
pembangun puisi feet,
dan stanzaic
form puisi

Page | 53
2. Mampu
dan stazaic form
dalam puisi
3. Mampu
feet, rhythm,
rhyme, dan
stazaic form
dalam puisi
dengan makna
puisi tersebut

5 1) Mampu Denotation, Ceramah, 1. Mampu

mengidentifik connotation diskusi, menyebutkan
asi dan dan tone praktek, dan definisi
menjelaskan kuis denotation,
denotation, connotation dan
connotation tone
dan tone 2. Mampu
dalam puisi mengidentifikasi
2) Kompetensi denotation,
pertemuan 1- connotation dan
5 tone dalam puisi
3. Mampu
connotation dan
tone dalam puisi
dengan makna
puisi tersebut

6-8 Mampu Figurative Ceramah, 1. Mampu

mengidentifikasi language: diskusi dan menyebutkan
dan menjelaskan Simile, praktek definisi berbagai
jenis-jenis Metaphor, jenis figurative
figurative Allegory, language
language dalam Antithesis, 2. Mampu
puisi Personification mengidentifikasi
, Apostrophe, berbagai jenis
Hyperbole, figurative
Euphemism, language dalam
Irony, puisi
Paradox, 3. Mampu
Metonymy, menjelaskan
Synecdoche hubungan
language dalam
suatu puisi
dengan makna

Page | 54
puisi tersebut
9 Ujian Tengah Semester
10 Mampu Imagery, Ceramah, 1. Mampu
mengidentifikasi Symbols diskusi dan menyebutkan
dan menjelaskan praktek definisi imagery
imagery dan dan symbols
symbols dalam 2. Mampu
puisi mengidentifikasi
imagery dan
symbols dalam
3. Mampu
imagery dan
symbols dalam
suatu puisi
dengan makna
puisi tersebut

11 Mampu Biographical Ceramah, 1. Mampu

mengidentifikasi approach diskusi dan menjelaskan
dan menjelaskan praktek definisi
unsur ekstrinsik biographical
berupa latar approach
belakang 2. Mampu
pengarang pada mengidentifikasi
puisi unsur ektrinsik
berupa latar
pengarang dalam
3. Mampu
hubungan latar
pengarang suatu
puisi dengan
makna puisi

12 Mampu Historical Ceramah, 1. Mampu

mengidentifikasi approach diskusi dan menjelaskan
dan menjelaskan (zeitgeist/sem praktek definisi historical
unsur ekstrinsik angat zaman) approach,
berupa semangat khususnya
zaman pada puisi zeitgeist/semang
at zaman yang
dapat ditemukan
dalam sebuah
2. Mampu
semangat zaman
dalam suatu puisi
3. Mampu

Page | 55
semangat zaman
suatu puisi
dengan makna
puisi tersebut
13-15 Mampu Unsur intrinsik Presentasi 1. Mampu menulis
memahami puisi dan ekstrinsik kelompok analisa sederhana
berdasarkan puisi (2-3 halaman)
unsur-unsur dan orisinal
intrinsik dan sebuah puisi
ekstrinsik sebuah berdasarkan
puisi unsur-unsur
intrinsik dan
ekstrinsik puisi
2. Mampu
n analisa puisi

16 Ujian Akhir Semester

Kriteria Nilai Akhir:

Kuis : 15%
Tugas Terstruktur & presentasi) : 20%
Partisipasi Aktif : 10%
UTS : 25%
UAS : 30% (Mahasiswa dengan kehadiran minimal 80
% tidak dapat mengikuti UAS dan nilai lainnya


Abrams, M.H. (1999). A glossary of literary terms 7th ed. Boston: Heinle & Heinle.
Birkerts, S.P. (1996). Literature: the evolving canon, 2nd edition. A Simon & Schuster
Company: Needham Heights.
Bergman,David and Epstein (1987). The Heath Guide to Literature, 2 nd edition.
Massachusetts: D.C. Heath and Company.
Kearns, Ackley, and Ferrara. (1984). Apreciating Literature. New York: Macmillan
Publishing Co.
Pickering, J.H. and Hoeper, J.D. (1980). Concise Companion to Literature. New York:
Macmillan Publishing Co. Inc.
Reaske, C. R. (1966). How to Analyze Poetry. New York: Monarch Press Inc.
Roberts, E.V. and Jacobs, H.E. (1998). Literature: an introduction to reading and
writing, 5th edition. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Page | 56