I Love Poetry!


You love poetry! You know you do! If you’re pretending that you don’t, you clearly haven’t read enough poems!

Or perhaps you never knew exactly how to read poems. Well, this unit is all about that. How to read poems, how to discuss your opinions about them, how to explain exactly why you like them (or why you don’t, as – let’s face it – not everyone likes every poem ever written), and how to accept the fact that some poems will forever remain difficult, or even impossible, to understand.

You might even learn how to write about them, or even write one yourself – but let’s not mention writing yet, not when I’m trying to work up your enthusiasm.

So, to begin. Before we look at a poem, here are some ideas about how to talk about it. Keep these with you at all times; download them and stick them on your fridge, and keep them there for the duration of this unit. Let SPECS and SLIMS be your friends as you read some of the poems in this unit.

1. SPECS Poster

2. SLIMS Poster

Finally, here are some poems. Use SPECS and SLIMS and prepare some comments on one or some of the poems below.

It Was Long Ago by Eleanor Farjeon

Pike by Ted Hughes

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

The Fly by Karl Shapiro

The Hunchback in the Park by Dylan Thomas


Poetry, like any type or genre of writing, uses several techniques that both readers and writers need to be aware of. You will know some of these already. If you are not sure of any of the techniques in the list below, take a look at the attached page for further information and examples.

The Sounds of Poetry








Poetry and the Senses

Types of poem

As well as poetic techniques, there are different types of poems. It’s important to be aware of these – what they are and how they work – as some will appear in your Diploma Programme English courses. And anyway, some of them – incredibly – are fun.


Sonnet    (Sonnet Collection)





Odes & Elegies

Rap & Spoken Word

Comparative Analysis

At Diploma level, especially at Higher level, it is not enough to analyse one text; you have to compare two texts. In this, the most difficult part of this unit, we will try to compare poems. Here’s some basic information.

Comparing Poems Intro

Below are two quite different ghost stories. What can you say about exactly how they differ?

She Moved Thru the Fair : My Wife and My Dead Wife

And here are some poems to practise with.

Enola Gay : Girl of Nagasaki

Morning Express : Night Ride

One Winter’s Morn : When icicles hang…

Assessed Task

The unit assessment involves analysing a poem of your choice. The method of analysis may be an essay, or it may be a presentation (in this case, both slides and notes will be assessed). Keep listening to find out which method is chosen.

Here are this year’s instructions.


See Veracross for details of deadlines.

Poetry Collection

The class of 2012 all chose poems to present to the rest of the class as the first part of their assessment. Here is a collection of those poems for you to read and, in some cases, treasure (!).

Poems We Love

And these are the poems that the class of 2013 chose.

Grade 10 Poems 2013 (compiled by Solange)

You might want to start your search for a poem in one of these two collections.

Poetry Writing

You will also be writing your own poetry as part of this course. You will choose one of the types of poem we looked at (above) and attempt your own version. Don’t be shy about it, as you will be sharing your poem(s) with the rest of the class in order to receive feedback, and to give feedback on others’ poems.

These poems are not assessed, but are a chance for you to learn to appreciate the difficulties involved in poem writing, and the fun involved in sharing work with peers.

Remember, the best of your poems will be published on the Purple Duck website. Click on the duck to find out more!



Many of the worksheets, poems and ideas above come from an excellent book:

Sadler, Hayllar, Powell (1986). Appreciating Poetry. Sydney: Macmillan Education Australia.


That’s the end of this unit. Now do you like poetry? Even just a little bit more than you did before? Comments below please…

One thought on “I Love Poetry!

  1. The Fly


    Subject: A fly is bothering a man, who is trying to (and succeeds in) killing it.

    Purpose: The poet is trying to get across how annoying flies are, and how insignificant they are. He is also trying to show how easy it is for a man to kill a fly, and feel good about it.

    Emotion: The poem lets through a very clear emotion from the man. He’s feeling anger, fury, annoyance towards the fly.

    Structure: Set out in 6 stanzas. Each stanza is quite long, with 8 lines. Towards the end of the stanza, the lines get shorter.

    Language: The words that are chosen to describe the fly show the hatred of the man towards it. The words are quite ugly, mean and nasty. They’re quite gory and descriptive. When the man is killing the fly, it’s very descriptive of how he is killed, using words to make it sound like a horrible death. This shows the mans hatred towards the fly.

    Imagery: There is a lot of imagery throughout this poem, namely metaphors. The first stanza holds a few examples. “Shabby clothes” suggests that the fly wears clothes, which he doesn’t. This is comparing the fly’s skin to “shabby clothes”. In the second stanza, “Sounding your buzzer”. The fly does not have a buzzer. This is suggesting that the buzzing sound a fly makes when it flies is similar to that of a buzzer. These are just two examples of many uses of imagery throughout the poem. These are very effective. They describe a fly perfectly, in keeping with the emotion of the man. He uses metaphors that make the fly sound “shabby”, annoying, ugly.

    Movement: The movement of the poem is quite disjointed. It doesn’t flow from stanza to stanza nicely. As the stanza goes through, it gets shorter, more angry, more broken.

    Sounds: The poem isn’t very musical, and it doesn’t have any onomatopoeia. There is a bit of alliteration, which makes the poem sound more connected. It doesn’t rhyme, and the end of each stanza doesn’t connect to the next one.

    Summary: The writer does achieve what he set out to do. He set out to show mans hatred towards flies. Everything about flies that people hate. How they look, smell, feel, where they’ve been and what they do. He does this through the structure of the poem, the imagery and the use of language.

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