Our Favorite Poet: Robert Frost

This week’s favorite poet is Robert Frost; a four-time Pulitzer Prize winner, renowned for his work about New England and depicting everyday life of the common man. He was the special guest at President John F. Kennedy’s inauguration and became the unofficial “poet laureate” of The United States

Robert Frost was born on March 26, 1874. During his lifetime he had a ton of failed jobs, dropped out of Harvard and suffered through the deaths of his children and wife. In 1912, Frost published his first book of poetry, which was reviewed favorably other famous poets, Ezra Pound and Edward Thomas. Frost credits Thomas as inspiration for his most famous poem “The Road Not Taken” (seen below). Over the course of his life, he earned more than 40 honorary degrees and won the Pulitzer Prize for his books New Hampshire, Collected Poems, A Further Range and A Witness Tree.

At Kennedy’s inauguration not wanting to slip, trip and fall, he decided to recite a poem he committed to memory, rather than attempt to read the original that he had written. He died on January 29, 1963, from complications related to prostate surgery. His ashes were interred in a family plot in Bennington, Vermont.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

What Is The Definition Of “Assonance?”

Assonance is a literary technique in which a vowel sound or diphthong is repeated in non-rhyming words. In order to be considered assonance, the words used must be close enough for the sound repetition to be noticed. This device is common in prose and poetry, especially in English verse.

Assonance is closely related to other techniques such as alliteration, consonance, and slant rhyme, as all four techniques include a quick succession of repeated sound.

A combination of alliteration (repeating the use of the same beginning consonant sound) and assonance is often used for tongue twisters, which is why they are so difficult to say without mistakes.

Assonance is often used for the same reasons as alliteration. Assonance can affect the tone, rhythm, or mood of the text. For example, repeating certain vowel sounds, such as short u or short o sounds, may create a melancholy feel.

Examples Of Assonance

There are many English proverbs that make use of assonance. The assonance in these examples make them easier to remember, but in a way that is more subtle than it would be if rhyming words were used.

  • A stitch in time saves nine.
  • The squeaky wheel gets the grease.
  • Let the cat out of the bag.
  • The early bird catches the worm.
  • Honesty is the best policy.

Assonance vs. Rhyming In English Verse

Many people believe that rhyme is a foundation of poetry, but in reality, it was uncommon in Old English verse. Old English did not have many words that rhymed, so poetry primarily used the techniques of meter, rhythm, assonance, and consonance. Only after the Germanic language assimilated words from the Romance languages did rhyme become popular in English poetry.

Rhyme remained a favorite technique in poetry for hundreds of years but has since fallen into disuse in contemporary times. However, consonance, assonance, and alliteration are still used in modern poetry today.

Example of Assonance Used In Poetry 

One of our favorite examples of assonance in poetry comes from Dylan Thomas’s famous poem “Do Not Go Gentle Into The Good Night.”

“Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage, against the dying of the light.
Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight,
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

Free Writing: The Life of A Basketball

Today’s writing is done by my good friend Nick. I gave him the prompt to write a poem about the life of something that is important to you. Not surprisingly, he decided to choose basketball.

From Nick:

Every day, I go to the park to play basketball with my friends and my brother, so the sport holds a truly special place in my heart. If you like basketball, I hope that my poem will inspire some feelings for you, maybe even some tears. I put my heart and soul into this poem, so I really hope that it turns out to be a SLAM DUNK!

Shooter, driver, dribbler,
Throw me against the board and make it quiver.

Call me the rock and give me away,
Go on defense, and get me back anyway.

I touch everyone that comes in contact with me,
Because of physics, I fall with gravity.

Throw me in the hoop and I will feel joy,
Doesn’t matter if you’re a man, girl, or boy.

I might just be a ball, but you know what they say:
If you love to ball, then ball is your whole day.

You might just think I’m an inanimate object,
But when ball is life, I’m your greatest project.

If that poem made you feel like playing some basketball, then you’re not alone. All I can think about now is going to the nearest park and shooting some hoops with the boys/girls. Please don’t forget that poetry is here for us to talk about what we love, and for nothing else. Don’t care about what others people say about your poetry: if you love it, that’s all that matters. I like to think of myself as an athlete just as much as I am a poet, so I thought I would give you a little insight as to what life would be like as a basketball. If you want some more basketball content, please watch this video:

What’s The Definition Of A Rhyme?

Humpty Dumpty sat on a WALL Humpty Dumpty had a great FALL

Rhymes are a pair of words that commonly appear in poetry that have similar vowel sounds. Using rhymes can give lines of prose a more interesting rhythm. Rhymes are a writing technique that has been in use for centuries.

Traditional Rhymes

In a nutshell, a rhyme consists of two or more words that have the same vowel sound. For example “room” and “boom” are rhymes. “Bat” and “cat” are also rhymes.

However, words don’t need to use the same letters to rhyme. For an example, “ocean” and “motion” rhyme even though they are spelled differently and have different vowels. They rhyme because their vowel sound is the same when read or spoken out loud.

Rhymes can also consist of multiple words. You could rhyme “beach” with “freedom of speech” or “rabbit” with “bad habit.”

Approximate Rhymes

There are in fact other types of rhymes besides vowel sound. Approximate Rhymes are a pair of words that don’t necessarily sound exactly the same. They
sound fairly similar.

Approximate rhymes allow writers to rhyme words that they wouldn’t be able to rhyme otherwise. “Orange” is a word that is famous for not rhyming with anything. However, there are several words that sound similar to “orange.” You could try rhyming “orange” with “abhorrence” and “porridge” and get the effect that you want.

Another example is the pair of words “love” and “grudge”. In songs, “girl” and “world” are commonly used.

Is Rhyming Essential?

A lot of people think that you have to use rhymes when writing a poem. However, that isn’t actually the case. The choice of whether or not to use a rhyme is entirely up to the writer. The writer also has to decide how the rhyme is structured.

Some writers rhyme the ending word of every phrase. Others rhyme the ending word of every other phrase. There are many different ways to use rhymes.

Examples of Rhymes in Poetry

Annabel Lee by Edgar Allen Poe is a poem that uses rhyme. Throughout the poem they rhyming structure changes. In the first stanza, it’s an ABABAB patter. In Stanza’s 2-4 its just the B lines that rhyme. In Stanza 5 its ABBABCB and the last stanza is ABABCCBB.

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.

I was a child and she 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, chilling
My beautiful Annabel Lee;
So that her highborn 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 by night,
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 feel 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 the sepulchre there by the sea,
In her tomb by the sounding sea.

Our Favorite Poets: Emily Dickinson

This week’s favorite poet is none other than Emily Dickinson. Some argue that she might be the most important American poet and some argue that the title belongs to Walt Whitman. But no one can deny that she was incredibly talented, not even the trolls on the internet.

She was born on December 10th in 1830. She wrote almost 1,800 poems but only a few of them ever published during her life. Her poetry was starkly different for the time period (the late 1800s) in which it was published. Most of her poetry utilizes short lines, slant rhymes, and random use of capitalization and punctuation. Some of her works were altered when published to fit what was standard. Her poems are also known for dealing with death and the thought of immortality.

Personality wise, Emily was known as a bit of reclusive and barely socialized. Most of her friendships were maintained through letters. She also never married. One day when baking she fainted which may have been the primary cause of her death. She did not commit suicide as commonly believed. But the fumes from the oven left her weakened and made it difficult for her to breathe.

Because I could not stop for Death —
He kindly stopped for me —
The Carriage held but just Ourselves —
And Immortality.

We slowly drove — He knew no haste
And I had put away
My labor and my leisure too,
For His Civility —

We passed the School, where Children strove
At Recess — in the Ring —
We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain —
We passed the Setting Sun —

Or rather — He passed Us —
The Dews drew quivering and Chill —
For only Gossamer, my Gown —
My Tippet — only Tulle —

We paused before a House that seemed
A Swelling of the Ground —
The Roof was scarcely visible —
The Cornice — in the Ground —

Since then — ’tis Centuries — and yet
Feels shorter than the Day
I first surmised the Horses’ Heads
Were toward Eternity —

The Definition Of Metaphor

Writers don’t always say exactly what they mean. Sometimes, writers use vivid expressions so that they can more accurately convey the feeling behind their words. This is known as a metaphor. A metaphor is one of many different types of literary devices. When a writer uses a metaphor, they use words or phrases to describe a situation even if those particular words don’t literally apply to the situation.

Metaphors can be found in the work of nearly every writer. As a matter of fact, metaphors are considered to be an essential component of writing. With that said, you need to select the metaphors that you use with care.

Find Metaphors That Other People Can Understand

Metaphors should make your intent more clear, not less clear. The metaphors you use need to be something that your reader can understand.

When you select a metaphor, you need to think about whether or not that metaphor makes sense to other people. Have people read over your work. Ask them if they understand your metaphors. If your intent isn’t coming through, you may have to use a different metaphor in your work.

Find Metaphors That Are Vivid And Expressive

While you should pick broad metaphors, you shouldn’t use a metaphor to say something bland or cliché. You should try to pick metaphors that are vivid and expressive. When people read over your metaphors, a clear image should appear in their head.

We do tend to discuss metaphors in song lyrics but metaphors are used in poetry quite often.

Common Metaphors

  • a sheet of snow
  • a heart of gold
  • elephant in the room
  • love is a battlefield
  • stench of failure

Metaphors in Poetry

One of the most famous metaphors used in Poetry is found in William Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18 also known as Shall I Compare Thee To A Summer’s Day.

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate.
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date.
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimmed;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature’s changing course, untrimmed;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st,
Nor shall death brag thou wand’rest in his shade,
When in eternal lines to Time thou grow’st.
So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

In this poem, Shakespeare is using a Summer’s Day as a metaphor for love.

Free Writing: Life After Death

This week’s creative writing prompt comes from Creative Writing Now. I had my friend select a number between 1 through 20 and he chose number 7, which states: Write a poem based on your belief about life after death… or about what you WISH you believed.

This prompt has me thinking a lot more than any of the other free writing prompts that I’ve done before. There’s a lot of directions that this could take. I think the natural response would be I wish that we coulda ll be immortal, but think of the potential ramifications of that, we’d use up all the natural resources on earth fairly quickly. It also reminds me of the best book I’ve ever read called Elsewhere, when you die you go to heaven and age backward and then are reborn as a baby. How cool would it be if that happened? And then there’s this theory that my family has that my grandfather was reincarnated into a white butterfly. I know that sounds really strange but it’s true – there’s a white butterfly that follows me around on important occasions and sits on my grandfather’s gravestone. This theory totally let to my parents getting a divorce but I still think it’s true!

There are a lot of famous incarnation stories that can be seen here, mine is a little wacky too, but not as wacky as this:

Meanwhile, I should probably actually write something.

I see you.
I know it’s you.
I don’t care if people don’t believe it’s true.
Whether it’s my SATs or the day I moved.
You have been there – watching me, guiding me, loving me.
When I see you I know it will be OK.
That all is right in the world.
One day I will join you to help guide the rest of our family.
Being reborn for a greater purpose.

What do you think? Do you think I met the challenge?

The Definition Of Simile

A lot of people get the terms “simile” and “metaphor” confused. When writers use a simile they are making a comparison between two things directly usually using the words “like” or “as”.

All similes are metaphors because you are making a comparison between two things, but not all metaphors are similes because similes refer to a comparison as previously mentioned with using the words “like” or “as”.

Similes are usually used by writers to help describe something. For example, a simile to describe the rain that was falling down from the sky and it was painful, you might say something along the lines of “the rain was like sharp needles pouring down from the sky.” If you wanted to use a metaphor, but not a simile, you could say something like “razor sharp needles poured down from the sky.” Because we know that rain falls from the sky, we still understand that the razor sharp needs are rain and not to take it in the literal sense. But to be safe and to make sure the reader doesn’t misinterpret the work, a lot of writers prefer to use similes over metaphors.

Examples of Similes In Everyday Language

  • as cute as a kitten
  • as busy as a bee
  • as light as a feather
  • fought like cats and dogs
  • boring as watching paint dry
  • sitting like a bump on a log

Example of Similes in Poetry

One of the most famous examples of a simile in a poem is none other than Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. The last line of the poem compares the star to a diamond. And based on science, we know that he’s not far off as carbon is what makes diamonds and is also found in stars! But of course, we know that stars are not diamonds in the literal sense.

“Twinkle, twinkle little star,
How I wonder what you are.
Up above the world so high,
Like a diamond in the sky.
Twinkle, twinkle little star,
How I wonder what you are.”

Metaphors in Song Lyrics: Afternoon Delight

Made popular again by its use in Anchorman (which I am sure made their estate a ton of money), “Afternoon Delight” was originally recorded in 1976 by the Starland Vocal Band. In this case, there’s metaphors and euphemism as discussed in our last post. The euphemism is painfully obvious – substituting sex with the phrase of afternoon delight. And who can’t help but roll their eyes at the euphemism of rubbing sticks and stones together make the sparks ignite!  sky rockets in flight

The metaphor, however, is a bit more subtle. In the song, they compare sky rockets in flight to afternoon delight. To me, they are basically saying something as wonderful and magical as sky rockets flying in the air is the same as some really good sex! Take a listen to the song and read the lyrics below:

Gonna find my baby, gonna hold her tight
Gonna grab some afternoon delight
My motto’s always been ‘when it’s right, it’s right’
Why wait until the middle of a cold dark night?
When everything’s a little clearer in the light of day
And we know the night is always gonna be there any way
Thinkin’ of you’s workin’ up my appetite
Looking forward to a little afternoon delight
Rubbin’ sticks and stones together makes the sparks ingite
And the thought of lovin’ you is getting so exciting
Sky rockets in flight
Afternoon delight
Afternoon delight
Afternoon delight
Started out this morning feeling so polite
I always though a fish could not be caught who wouldn’t bite
But you’ve got some bait a waitin’ and I think I might try nibbling
A little afternoon delight
Sky rockets in flight
Afternoon delight
Afternoon delight
Afternoon delight
Please be waiting for me, baby, when I come around
We could make a lot of lovin’ ‘for the sun goes down
Thinkin’ of you’s workin’ up my appetite
Looking forward to a little afternoon delight
Rubbin’ sticks and stones together makes the sparks ingite
And the thought of lovin’ you is getting so exciting
Sky rockets in flight
Afternoon delight
Afternoon delight
Afternoon delight
Afternoon delight!

The Meaning of Euphenism

In our everyday speech as well as writing there is a device that is commonly used called a euphemism. It is a word or phrase that is given to another word or phrase unrelated to the object or term being spoken of. It is commonly understood as a gentler or less harsh way of putting things.

For instance, a company that lays its employees off will make cuts to various employees. It is a common euphemism to refer to the cuts as downsizing. Another euphemism example is letting someone go for firing a person. Someone who is homeless may be spoken of with a euphemism term like “on the streets.”

There are different types such as the phonetic type. This pertains to the spoken abbreviation of an otherwise offensive term. Jeez is a shortened phonetic euphemism for Jesus which in many instances would be an offensive name to shout in public because there are people who feel the name must be revered.

Euphemisms can differ slightly from politically correct statements. If someone is visually impaired it often means that they are blind. However, the term could be construed as a euphemism but in actuality, it is a perfectly appropriate description for those who are blind or who cannot see well. It is a broad term that applies to different levels of difficulty seeing. It serves as a clearer indication of what a speaker or writer is referring to when they use the phrase visually impaired.

Common Types of Euphemisms

Abbreviations such as B.O.instead of body odor
Foreign words such as faux pas instead of mistake
Abstraction such as before I go instead of before I die
Longer words such as perspiration instead of sweat
Technical words such as gluteus maximus instead of butt
Mispronunciations such as darn instead of damn

Example of Euphemism In Literature

In this line of dialogue from Othello, Iago the main villain of the story tells the King the following:

“I am one, sir, that comes to tell you your daughter and the Moor are now making the beast with two backs.”

Beast with the two backs is a euphemism for the act of sexual relations.