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English 10: Class Notes  Notes on 
Poetry: Sound & Structure

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This week, the class looked at Michael Ondaatje's poem, "Bearhug," and learned a number of poetic terms. See the original assignment here.  

Assonance is when the middle vowel sound is the same (or very similar) in two or more words on the same line or nearly the same line AND the consonant sounds at the beginning and end are different.

“Slot” and “frog” and “rock” have assonance on the “aw” sound in the middle of the word.

Consonance is when the ending consonant sound is the same (or very similar) in two or more words on the same line or nearly the same line AND the vowel sounds in the middle are different (and the consonant sound at the beginning is the same or different)

“Flight” and “mat” have consonance on the “t” sound at the end of the word.

Rhyme is when two or more words on the same line or nearly the same line have the same vowel and consonant sound at the end of the word OR have the same vowel sound at the end.

“Way” rhymes with “say” and “mat” rhymes with “cat.”

Feminine rhyme is when two or more words on the same line or nearly the same line have two or more of the same vowel and consonant sounds at the end of the word.

“Boring” rhymes on two syllables with “soaring” and “pouring” OR “orange” can make a rhyme with “door hinge.” Another good pair would be “happening” and “dampening.”

Words that rhyme inside a line are “internal rhymes.”

“I drank the fine wine

A group of lines in a poem is called a “stanza.”

A metaphor is a comparison between two different things in order to show a similarity.

To say “a man IS a tiger” is a metaphor to show the similarity of, perhaps, strength between the man and the tiger.

He is a real bear in the morning. (The man is compared to a bear just waking up in the springtime (grouchy and easily angry).

Alliteration is when two or more words on the same line or nearly the same line share the same consonant sound at the beginning of words.

“Shoot” and “shoe” show alliteration on the “sh” sound at the beginning. “So” and “sing” also show alliteration. REMEMBER that “s” and “sh” are not the same sound.

Masculine rhyme is when two or more words on the same line or nearly the same line have one of the same vowel and consonant sounds at the end of the word.

Simile is a special kind of metaphor, using “like” or “as.” The man is like a tiger. The man is as strong as a tiger.

In a poem the person who speaks the words you hear is called the “speaker.” (in a story, the same person is “narrator”) Sometimes, this person is the same as the poet or writer and sometimes not.

A narrative poem tells a story; a lyric poem expresses a feeling. Many poems combine the two.

AM Notes:

Sound is one thing in poetry; spelling is another. Poets often DO NOT talk about consonance and assonance, but call both of these “half rhyme.”

For example the words “tough,” “cough,” and “slough” all have different middle vowel sounds in them, although “cough” and “tough” share the same consonant ending sounds (“f”)

Rhyme is when two words share the same sound in the middle vowel and the ending consonant OR with two vowel sounds the same at the end of a word as in “way” and “say.”

The words “trick” and “pick” rhyme. Also when there is a feminine rhyme, a middle vowel may rhyme with another middle vowel without a consonant. (See examples below)

Men speak in more one syllable words than women do, so, in poetry, we call one syllable rhymes “masculine” and two or more syllable rhymes “feminine.”

A masculine rhyme would be like “hat” and “mat.” A feminine rhyme would be like “being” and “seeing.” Watch out for words like “going” and “freeing” as this pair shows masculine rhyme.

If the words in a poem share ONLY the same vowel sound, then we have “assonance.”

The words “love” and “duck” share this quality. Another word that is assonant with these two is “such.” Another pair would be “make” and “late.”

If the words in a poem share ONLY the same ending consonant sound, then we have “consonance.”

The words “fetch” and “peach” or “risk” and “desk” are consonant with one another.

If the words in a poem (usually on the same line) share the same consonant sounds at the beginning of words, it is called “alliteration.”

The words “fight” and “fetch” use alliteration on the “f” sound of the consonant. Watch out for consonant “blends” such as “fr” or “ch”. The words “church” and “cut” do not show alliteration, for example. Words like “thank” and “thick” show both alliteration and consonance. Again, poets might say “half rhyme.”

The person who is speaking the words of a poem is called the “speaker.” The person who wrote the poem is called the “poet.” Often, the speaker and poet are the same person, but not always.

One poem, “Bully,” has a speaker who is a bully. The poet is not a bully, he was the bullied one.

A metaphor is a comparison between two things, perhaps alike, but often not.

 

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