English 206: Reading and Writing Poetry
N O R T H W E S T E R N U N I V E R S I T YENGLISH 206 ~ Reading and Writing Poetry ~ Spring 2010M/W/F 11:00-11:50 ~ University Hall 018Reginald Gibbons ~ Office: University Hall 404Office hours: Monday 2:00-3:00, Wednesday 4:00-5:00, and by appointment<email@example.com> ~ Phone in Univ. Hall 404: 847 467 1066rgibbons.northwestern.edu [see blog] Please read the syllabus carefully. It contains a lot of information, deadlines, instructions! By training you to be a better reader, this course will make you a better writer. In this introduction to the art of poetry, our purpose is to learn to read poetry as poets do--studying some of the intrinsic resources of language (and of print culture) that poetry intensifies for the sake of meaning-making or pleasure or both. We will also situate poetry within just a few of the many larger contexts in which it exists and provides human beings with a particular kind of pleasure--in language, in awareness of inner life, in thinking about human experience and the world (and about language itself), and in song. Poetry is a capacity of the language use of our species, and is probably one of the earliest human arts, in the form of song and prayer, blessing and curse, memory aid and expression of praise, and lament, narrative and aid to memory. Poetry must have existed when the very earliest material evidence of belief and ritual (cave paintings, sculpted artifacts, and temples) was created between 13,000 and 30,000 or so years ago. Some traces of poetry from the time before the invention of writing are preserved in the oldest poems we have in written texts, and these traces suggest that elements of poetic technique that we still use are amazingly old; so it’s interesting to think about why, since the functions of poetry in human society have changed completely, many devices of poetry--which belong to language generally but in poems are intensified and used more deliberately--still survive. And in all later historical epochs, including our own, poetry has continued to flourish in different forms and media, while at the same time it has gone from being the principal genre of verbal art to being only one among many. When discussing the poems published in our texts, and the poems you will write, we will be emphasizing how poetic effects--of thought and feeling, harmony or dissonance, emphasis and rhythm, movement or stasis, narrative or meditation, and tones of voice--are created. Our main concern is to study not so much what poems say, but how they say it; not what poems imagine or argue or assert, but how they do so. We may have very different reasons, as individuals, for cherishing one poem over another, but we will probably agree on many aspects of how a poem works on the listener or reader. Among the elements of poetry that we will study are the relationship of the poetic line and the shape of a sentence (i.e. syntax); the sounds and rhythms of the English language; imagery and figures of speech; some of the traditional resources of poetry (such as particular devices and patterns, and particular purposes like elegy, acknowledgment, praise, meditation, and witness); and poetic thinking. You will learn how to read metrical poems and how to notice the meaning-making resources and effects of a few traditional forms of poetry (especially the sonnet). Requirements: You will complete 4 exercises, 6 poems, and 2 annotations; you will memorize 30 lines of your own choice; you will write two brief responses to poetry readings; you will post 5 very brief word studies on our Blackboard site. An annotation is a two-page, double-spaced description of the use of one poetic device in one poem and the effect of that use; it does not include interpretation (assertions regarding what the poem is about). Your responses to poetry readings will be 250-word reports on poetry readings taking place this quarter on campus; you may choose from among four poetry readings (see the schedule below on April 15, April 16, and May 12.) A word study is based on consulting primarily the print or on-line Oxford English Dictionary (OED) [http://dictionary.oed.com.turing.library.northwestern.edu/entrance.dtl] and is simply an explanation of the etymology of a word and a summary of the range of its meaning (some words have small ranges, like “ski,” which I have posted as an example of a word study; some have very extensive ranges). For your memorization assignment, you may pick any assigned poem, part of a poem, or more than one short poem, to reach the total number of lines you must memorize (30). You must participate actively in class, turn in all your work and do so on time, and make your assigned posts on Blackboard (word studies and poems). Your grade will be calculated as follows: 4 poetic exercises + recitation + written responses to poetry readings, 33%; 4 revised poems in final portfolio + 5 word studies on Blackboard, 33%; three annotations + class participation, 33%. (Class participation does not have to take the form of offering a judgment; it is just as valuable to keep asking questions.) Your work will be evaluated on the basis of how much your writing improves in terms of style and your use of new poetic resources. I will comment in the margins of the poems and exercises to help you improve them, and will grade them to give you a sense of how well you are writing, but I will re-grade the revised poems or exercises in your final portfolio due on June 7 to give you credit for improving your work. I will give you credit--or not--for your annotations, responses to poetry readings, and word studies; if these prose assignments are not good enough to receive credit, then you may revise them within a week and get credit for your improved version. This is a course in which our group discussion and shared learning are essential. Absences without medical documentation will lower your course grade. A third absence lowers it by a full letter. Lateness if repeated will count as an absence. Presentation of assignments: All must be printed out in black--poems single-spaced and prose double-spaced, both with standard 1-inch margins. Do not center the lines of your poems; they must be flush left. Put your name, course number and date at the top of each page. As one of my colleagues advises 206 students, “Keep it real. Use contemporary diction; avoid archaisms.” Take the poem assignments seriously and do not compose mock versions, parodies, etc. Required Textbooks (for sale at Beck’s Books, 716 Clark St.)The Penguin Book of Renaissance Verse (1993), edited by David NorbrookThe Penguin Book of Romantic Poetry (2006), edited by Jonathan Wordsworth and Jessica WordsworthThe Voice That Is Great Within Us (this edition 1983), edited by Hayden CarruthThe Viking Book of Contemporary World Poetry (1996), edited by J. D. McClatchyPlus, on Blackboard, essays (by Mary Kinzie, Donald Hall, and Robert Bly) and supplemental poems (by Robert Hayden, Czeslaw Milosz, M. NourbeSe Philip, Sterling Plumpp, and William Carlos Williams). Our four anthologies are treasure troves of poems--resources for your future reading and writing. The advantage of reading poems in these collections is that you can see individual poems in artistic context. The Penguin Book of Renaissance Verse gives you access to the invention of modern poetry and the devising of what became some of the traditional forms of English poems. The collection itself is a kind of workshop in which you can see the possibilities of poetry flower at a historical moment when the language and literature of the English was becoming recognizably modern. The Penguin Book of Romantic Poetry represents the next decisive moment in the development of poetry in English, when the language used in poems, while it was of great variety, began to serve some specific new poetic purposes--writing about historical change, writing autobiographically, delighting in perception and description, voicing the desire for greater freedom of thought, and broadening the spiritual dimensions of human existence. In the two modern anthologies we can see some of the most important changes in poetry in the last 100 years--the third decisive period of change and invention in poetry in English. The Voice That Is Great Within Us: American Poetry of the Twentieth Century (originally published in 1970) was edited by the American poet Hayden Carruth (1921-2008), whose sympathies and interests were broader than those of perhaps any other editor of an anthology of American poetry. The Vintage Book of Contemporary World Poetry, edited by J. D. McClatchy, will show you a little of the variety of poetry in cultures different from our own in many ways. Many late twentieth-century American poets saw in poetry from abroad models of how to shape poems in new ways and how to take new poetic stances. Especially impressive to some American poets were poems from Spain, Latin America, and some Eastern European nations. Even though translations cannot convey very much of what makes the style or manner of one poet different from that of another, or how poets stand in relation to the poetry of their own traditions, we can find rich resources in them. * We can look at the elements of poetry in different ways, depending on the purpose of our looking. Regarding poetic and linguistic resources, we can study image, line, sentence, rhythm and meter, stanza, structure, metaphor and metonymy, and other elements related to the craft and art. Regarding the poet's stance toward reality, we can speak of landscape, history, elegy, positive and negative space in the way a poem thinks, imagination, invention, and the objects of the poet's attention. Focusing on traditional forms and structural choices and resources, we can speak of the sonnet, of couplets, quatrains, epic, song forms, and so on. We can trace the historical changes in the way poets use a particular element, such as rhythm or structure, or a particular stance, such as believing poetry is a kind of instruction or believing later that it can be a particular kind of thinking. We can also consider different aesthetic positions or theories which have been conceived by those who read existing poems and who thought generally about literature, from classical antiquity to the present. For example, the four types of literary theory that M. H. Abrams discerned in the whole history of (western) poetry and criticism: mimetic theories of poetry look at the relationship between the poem and the world; pragmatic theories, at the relationship between the poem and the audience; expressive theories, at the relationship between the poem and the poet; objective theories, at the poem mostly as an object to be studied closely for its intrinsic qualities. Within these four categories, or related to them, there are different ways of reading poetry--linguistically, historically, sociologically, philosophically, etc. (Our work this quarter is grounded implicitly in an objective theory of poetry, but as readers and students of poetry, lifelong, we have occasion to take other theoretical positions, also.) The two greatest nineteenth-century American poets who are not represented in our anthologies are Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman. But you will encounter them often in other anthologies and other courses. These two are completely distinct from each other; both are utterly remarkable for the depth of their thought, the range of their imaginations, and the power of their poetic responsiveness to life. (And there are lots of other worthy poets we don’t have time for in this one course.) In the reading assignments, the four anthologies are abbreviated as follows: The Voice That Is Great Within Us = G, Penguin Renaissance Verse = RenV, Penguin Romantic Poetry = RomP, Vintage Contemporary World Poetry = WP. The assigned readings are used as illustrations of particular elements and uses of poetry, but the poems are not confined within those categories; many could have been listed as illustrative in other groups; all surpass any categorization. You are responsible for reading carefully all the assigned poems, even though we will not have time to discuss them all, and also the essays by Kinzie, Hall and Bly. These make up the new knowledge base for your writing. O u r s c h e d u l e You will write a lot in this course, with writing assignments due almost every week, and sometimes two in the same week. Put these due dates in your calendar and give yourself enough time to complete the deep thinking required even for these short assignments: 4/2 poem 1: Imitation of Williams, “Nantucket.”4/5 exercise 1: On a landscape.4/9 poem 2: Imitation of Milosz, “Encounter.” 4/12 exercise 2: Description of a thing in its surroundings.4/16 poem 3: Innocence and experience... Or... an imaginary machine.4/19 exercise 3: Praise.4/21 or 5/17 poetry reading report4/26 annotation 14/30 poem 4: On any subject.5/3 and 5/8 recitations5/10 poem 5: Sonnet.5/21 exercise 4: A brief narrative.5/28 poem 6: An encounter.5/31 annotation 26/7 final portfolio (annotation 3 plus 4 revised poems or exercises) * (Notice that you do not have to bring all four books to class on any one day:) Week 1Mon. March 29: INTRODUCTION. Williams, "Nantucket" (handout and Blackboard). Wed. March 31: RHYTHM, LINE AND SENTENCE. Wyatt, "Who So List to Hount...," RenV p. 182; Shakespeare sonnet 94, RenV p. 310; Roethke, "My Papa's Waltz," G p. 286. Read “Language Functions” at the end of this syllabus. Friday April 2: RHYTHM, LINE AND SENTENCE. Williams, "Between Walls," G p. 57; Pound, "The Return," G pp. 81-2, "In a Station of the Metro," G p. 83, "Canto I," G. pp. 90-92; Lowell, "My Last Afternoon...," G p. 447; Schwartz, "My Grandmother," G p. 372; Kaufman, "To My Son Parker...," G pp. 539-40; Plumpp, from Ornate with Smoke (handout and Blackboard); Kinzie chapter 2 (Blackboard). FIRST POEM DUE: imitation of Williams’s "Nantucket" (hard copy for me, Blackboard post for everyone). Week 2Mon. April 5: IMAGE. H. D., "Evening," G pp. 105-06; Eliot, "Preludes I," G pp. 128-30; Bly, "Surprised by Evening," G p. 557; Snyder, "A Spring Night in Shokoku-ji," and "Work to Do Toward Town," both G pp. 664-65; Bishop, “The Armadillo,” G pp. 319-20. FIRST PENTAMETER EXERCISE DUE--8 LINES ON THE SUBJECT OF A LANDSCAPE (hard copy for me; Blackboard posting voluntary). Write concretely, vividly, and with considered word choice. YOU WILL LATER REVISE THIS AND TURN IN THE REVISION ON APRIL 19. Wed. April 7: IMAGE. Paz, "Along Galeana Street," WP 482; Hikmet, "The Cucumber," WP pp. 239-40; Tadic, "Little Picture Catalogue," WP pp. 206-207; Mahapatra, "Taste for Tomorrow," WP p. 416; Amichai, "Second Resurrection," WP p. 316; Milosz, "Encounter," handout. Fri. April 9: SOUND (phonetic figures). Hayden, “Those Winter Sundays” (handout and Blackboard); Keats, "Ode on Melancholy," RomP pp. 344-45. SECOND POEM DUE: imitation of Milosz’s “Encounter” (hard copy for me, Blackboard post for everyone). Week 3 SPRING FESTIVAL OF WRITERS. (*****NO CLASSES, but OPTIONAL review session on Monday*****) You must attend at least two of the five events, and specifically TWO of the POETRY READINGS. (I hope you will attend more events than two.)Mon. April 12: OPTIONAL class to review the concepts of the first two weeks and answer any of your questions. SECOND PENTAMETER EXERCISE DUE BY NOON in the English Department, University Hall 215--8 LINES DESCRIBING A CONCRETE THING IN ITS SURROUNDINGS (hard copy for me; Blackboard posting voluntary); YOU WILL LATER REVISE THIS AND TURN IN THE REVISION ON APRIL 19. Tuesday April 13: ***30th Anniversary Celebration of creative writing at Northwestern: a reading by JoAnn Beard (nonfiction), 5 p.m., Hotel Orrington Heritage Ballroom Wed. April 14: ***30th Anniversary Celebration of creative writing at Northwestern: a reading by George Saunders (fiction), 5 p.m., Hotel Orrington Heritage Ballroom Thursday April 15: ***30th Anniversary Celebration of creative writing at Northwestern: A guided conversation with the visitors, led by Mary Kinzie, John Keene, and John Bresland, 3 p.m., Hotel Orrington Hinman Auditorium; and a reading by Frank Bidart (poetry), 5 p.m., Hotel Orrington Heritage Ballroom. Fri. April 16: (1) THIRD POEM DUE BY NOON in the English Department, University Hall 215: TWO PENTAMETER STANZAS--4 LINES ON A FIGURE OF INNOCENCE + 4 ON A FIGURE OF EXPERIENCE... OR... 8 LINES ON AN IMAGINARY MACHINE--be specific: what does it look like, sound like, what does it do, whose is it, where is it, etc. TURN IN TWO COPIES TO ME--ON THE SECOND COPY, UNDERLINE ALL SPEECH STRESSES, CIRCLE ALL PHONETIC FIGURES, AND BOX ALL IMAGES (and post plain poem on Blackboard everyone). (2) ALSO, E-MAIL YOUR CHOICE OF POEM(S) YOU WILL RECITE FROM MEMORY. ***30th Anniversary Celebration of creative writing at Northwestern: a reading by Alumni of the English Major in Writing: Dan Chaon (fiction), Anne-Marie Cusac (poetry), Karen Russell (fiction), Josh Weiner (poetry) and Cristina Henriquez (fiction)IF YOU REPORT ON ONE OF THE POETRY READINGS ON APRIL 15 OR 16, YOUR REPORT IS DUE IN CLASS ON MONDAY APRIL 19 (250 words, typed, double-spaced; comment on the poet's presentation and performance, plus two poetic elements you could hear in his or her work). Week 4Mon. April 19: IMAGE AND SOUND (phonetic figures) AND RHYTHM. Blake, "The Chimney Sweeper" (Songs of Innocence), RomP p. 362, "The Chimney Sweeper" (Songs of Experience), RomP p. 371; Waller, "Song," RenV 363, plus Campion, "There is a Garden" RenV p. 330, plus Burns, "A Red Red Rose," RomP p. 357, and then Blake, "The Sick Rose," RomP p. 371; Blake, "London," RomP p. 368-69; Keats, "Bright Star," RomP p. 440; Wordsworth, "Westminster Bridge," RomP p. 432; Wordsworth, "To Toussaint L'Ouverture," RomP p. 638; Plath, “Fever 103º,” G pp. 675-77. THIRD PENTAMETER EXERCISE DUE: 8 LINES OF PRAISE OF A PLACE, PERSON, OR THING, PLUS REVISED VERSIONS OF FIRST TWO PENTAMETER EXERCISES (hard copies for me; Blackboard posting voluntary). Wed. April 21: METAPHOR (a cognitive figure). Levertov, "Stepping Westward," G pp. 514-15; Bonnefoy, "A Stone," WP 27; Jaccottet, "I Rise with an Effort," WP pp. 36; Mahapatra, "Ash," WP pp. 417-18; Senghor, "I Am Alone," WP p. 340; Darwish, "Words," WP p. 305; Brodsky, "October Tune," WP p. 264; Sorescu, "Precautions," WP pp. 221-22; Ritsos, "Miniature," WP p. 227; Reznikoff, "About an Excavation," G p. 188; Bogan, "Women," G pp. 202-03; Hughes, "Epilogue," G p. 239; Niedecker, "Seven Poems #2," G pp. 243-44; Wilbur, "Piazza di Spagna...," G p. 485; Greville, Sonnet 84, RenV p. 212; Spenser, Sonnet 67, RenV p. 232; Shakespeare, Sonnet 29, RenV p. 306, and Sonnet 94, RenV pp. 310-11; Donne, "The Sunne Rising," RenV pp. 332-33. Fri. April 23 METAPHOR (continued) + METONYMY (a cognitive figure). Eliot, “Preludes II,” G p. 129; Rich, “After Dark,” G pp. 645-46. Week 5Mon. April 26: IMAGE AND SOUND AND RHYTHM. Rich, “Like this Together,” G pp. 643-45; essays by Hall and Bly (Blackboard). FIRST ANNOTATION DUE (hard copy to me). Wed. April 28: HISTORY. Taggard, "American Farm, 1934," G pp. 191-92; Fearing, "Green Light," G pp. 236-37; Cullen, "Black Majesty," G. p. 242; Rukeyser, "Boy With His Hair Cut Short," G. pp. 361-62. Brooks, three poems, G pp. 439-41; Ginsberg, "To Aunt Rose," G pp. 575-76; Darwish, "Victim Number 48," WP 299; Celan, "Death Fugue," WP pp. 209-10; Holub, "The Fly," WP pp. 182-83. SIGN UP FOR APPOINTMENTS NEXT WEEK. Fri. April 30: SOUND, RHYTHM, HISTORY, WORD. Duncan, "At the Loom," G pp. 465-67; Crystal (Blackboard). FOURTH POEM DUE, 8 to 12 LINES OF FOUR SPEECH STRESSES EACH (NOT IAMBIC) ON ANY SUBJECT EXCEPT ROMANCE; IT MUST INCLUDE AT LEAST TWO METAPHORS AND AT LEAST ONE METONYM; you must turn in TWO copies to me; on the second copy, UNDERLINE all speech stresses, CIRCLE all phonetic figures, BOX all images, and put all metaphors and metonyms IN CAPITAL LETTERS. (Post a plain copy of the poem on Blackboard.) Week 6Mon. May 3: RECITATIONS. Then: ARGUMENT: Sidney, Sonnet 65, RenV pp. 199-200; Shakespeare, Sonnet 29, RenV p. 306, Sonnet 55, RenV p. 308, Sonnet 114, RenV p. 311. Appointments (25 minutes) 2-5 Tuesday May 4: Appointments (25 minutes) 10-12, 1-5 Wed. May 5 RECITATIONS. Then: ARGUMENT: Philips, "Upon the graving of her name...," RenV p. 483; Vere, "Weare I a King...," RenV p. 497; Donne, "Batter my heart...," RenV pp. 543-44; Shakespeare, Sonnet 121, RenV p. 311.Literary event: Center for the Writing Arts: panel on writing the graphic novel, 6:00-7:30, Block Museum Auditorium Fri. May 7: *****NO CLASS***** Week 7Mon. May 10: ENCOUNTER/ACKNOWLEDGMENT (thinking about “objects”). Wordsworth, "Old Man Traveling," RomP p. 157, "The Solitary Reaper," RomP p. 387, "The Discharged Soldier," RomP pp. 157-161, "The London Beggar," RomP pp. 177-78, "There Was a Boy," RomP p. 268, "We Had a Fellow-Passenger," RomP p. 638. FIFTH POEM DUE: SONNET IN IAMBIC PENTAMETER WITH VOLTA AND WITH END-RHYMES PLACED IRREGULARLY (BUT ALL LINES MUST RHYME); CHOOSE ANY SUBJECT... BUT INCORPORATE AN ARGUMENT. (Hard copy for me and post on Blackboard for everyone.) Wed. May 12: ENCOUNTER (“objects”). Keats, "Ode to a Nightingale," RP pp. 341-43; Blake, "Holy Thursday" (Songs of Innocence), RP p. 361, "Holy Thursday" (Songs of Experience), RP pp. 371-72, "The Garden of Love," RP p. 367, "The Tyger," RP pp. 369-70; Keats, "This Living Hand," RP p. 411, "On First Looking into Chapman's Homer," RP p. 438; Coleridge, "To the River Otter," RP pp. 424-25; Clare, "Give Me the Gloomy Walk," RP p. 442. PLUS M. NourbeSe Philip excerpt (Blackboard). Literary event: Reading by M. NourbeSe Philip, University Hall 210 (Hagstrum Room), 5 p.m. IF YOU REPORT ON THIS READING (WHICH WILL PROBABLY INCLUDE POETRY), YOUR REPORT IS DUE IN CLASS ON MONDAY MAY 17 (250 words, typed, double-spaced; comment on the poet's presentation and performance, plus two poetic elements you could hear in her work). Friday May 14: ELEGY. Tichborne, "My prime of youth...," RenV p. 630; Jonson, "On my First Sonne," RenV pp. 637-38; Milton, "Methought I saw...," RenV pp. 658-59; Wordsworth, "She Dwelt..." and "A Slumber...," RomP p. 14; Keats, "When I Have Fears...," RomP p. 440; Rexroth, "Andree Rexroth--King's River Canyon, G pp. 270-72; Fearing, "Obituary," G pp. 237-38; McGrath, “Ode for the American Dead in Korea,” G pp. 431-32. Week 8Mon. May 17: WORKSHOP. Wed. May 19: *****NO CLASS***** Fri. May 21: WORKSHOP. FOURTH EXERCISE DUE: A BRIEF NARRATIVE IN 3 QUATRAINS OF IAMBIC TETRAMETER WITH RHYME IN EVEN-NUMBERED LINES. (Hard copy to me; posting on Blackboard voluntary.) Week 9Mon. May 24: WORKSHOP. Wed. May 26: WORKSHOP. Fri. May 28: WORKSHOP. SIXTH POEM DUE: 12 LINES ON AN ENCOUNTER; FORM AND LINE OF YOUR CHOICE... OR... ON AN IMAGINED CITY; IT MUST INCLUDE AT LEAST TWO METAPHORS AND AT LEAST ONE METONYM; you must turn in TWO copies to me; on the second copy, UNDERLINE all speech stresses, CIRCLE all phonetic figures, BOX all images, and put all metaphors and metonyms IN CAPITAL LETTERS. Post a plain copy on Blackboard. Week 10Mon. May 31: WORKSHOP. SECOND ANNOTATION DUE. Wed. June 2: Optional extra class--for clarification of any of the elements of poetry we have discussed during the quarter. Bring your questions. READING PERIOD (regular office hours, plus appointments outside those times) Week 11: EXAM WEEKFinal portfolio due on Monday June 7 no later than 4 p.m. at the English Department, University Hall 215. It must include your choice of 4 revised poems out of the 6 that you have written, and a third, new annotation. C O R E G L O S S A R Y(You can find on-line dictionaries of poetic terms; this is a list of particular ones used in this course.)Breaking the idiom: changing a word, or the syntax, the focus, or any other element of a set phrase, even a cliché, so that the idiom is both present and reconfigured, so that you create a fresh "turn" of language.Defamiliarization: the poetic device of making what is familiar seem strange and thus more vividly apprehended--people, places, things, events, language itself--by describing or presenting it from a different angle (perceptual, linguistic, perceptual, emotional...). (“Crop of tin cans”--Taggard). (“Double-barrelled shotguns / stuck out like bundles of baby crow-bars”--Lowell.)Etymology: the origins of a word in earlier words, and the historical changes in its meaning. (Used poetically in Duncan, "At the Loom," G pp. 465-67.)Foregrounding: emphasizing some linguistic, poetic and other textual elements rather than others. (“Ships, towers, domes, theaters, and temples lie / Open unto the fields and the sky”--Wordsworth, foregrounding his variation of the speed of the iambic pentameter line, from slow to fast.) (Pound alludes to and foregrounds an archaic pattern of verse rhythm and phonetic figures [alliteration] in the first portion of Canto I, as well as archaic word order [syntactic figures]. Williams foregrounds simple, concrete descriptive language to emphasize perception itself as a poetic goal. In “Women” Bogan foregrounds --among other things--complexity and elusiveness of metaphor.)Free verse: Lines in which the iambic rhythms of English are consistently disrupted, and in which line endings may either follow syntactic units or break them.Grammatical figure: the use of the same word-root in two different words in close proximity. (“Or on my frailties why are frailer spies”--Shakespeare.)Hyponym: a word that is more specific, more particular, more limited in meaning, and often visually more vivid, than another word that may be a synonym of a more general nature. Thus, "tulip" is a hyponym of "flower," "marble" is a hyponym of "stone," "dinghy" is a hyponym of "boat." Etymologically, "hypo" = "under," so we can visualize a pyramid of synonyms in which the most general and abstract are at the top, and the most specific and particular are below.Iambic rhythm: the intrinsic rhythm of English--a pattern of alternating stressed and unstressed syllables. See "speech stress," below. It can be used in a steadily patterned way in metrical verse; rhythmic figures that originated in metrical verse can also be used in free verse. (“Let us | have faith | that right | makes might,| and in | that faith, | let us, |to the end, dare | to do | our du- | ty as | we un- |derstand it” --Lincoln, Cooper Union Speech. The first foot is reversed in accent, and what I have marked as the eighth foot, a double foot, is also a pattern within iambic rhythms--two unaccented syllables followed by two accented ones.)Indo-European: the language family to which English belongs--a family that includes languages both dead and alive across a geographical range from western Ireland to northern India. Proto-Indo-European is the lost language from which all the languages in this family have descended over thousands of years.Metaphor: a trope that joins together two dissimilar things. Thus it is about seeing one thing as another thing, or expressing a meaning by means of an image, or both. In the latter case, the meaning is often called the "tenor" and the image is called the "vehicle" (which is appropriate, since the etymology of "metaphor" is from an ancient Greek word meaning "to carry"). Sometimes the tenor is completely implicit and the metaphor appears at first to be only an image. ("Who so list to hount I knowe where is an hynde"--Wyatt; the pieces of the green bottle in "Between Walls" by Williams; "They are the Lords and owners of their faces"--Shakespeare.) Metaphor is used with tremendous frequency in daily speech and everyday language in print, most often in the form of a "dead metaphor," that is, one which we don't visualize at all when we use it, so the "vehicle" is not even recognized as such; therefore the meaning can wander, over time, very far from what would seem to be the literal meaning. For example, "broadcast" once meant to sow grain by hand with a sweeping throwing motion, in a newly ploughed field; "blew me away" presumably originally meant something about an explosion or high winds; the "world wide web" is neither for fishing nor for catching flies; and a metaphor is not a living being, so it cannot really be "dead," nor can a "dead language"; yet the dead metaphor still has meaning, often a very useful one. (See metonym.) Simile is a form of metaphor in which the word “like,” or “as,” or “the way...” may be used.Metonym: a trope that substitutes one thing for another to which it is related. (“It was very 1960s,” “the White House says...,” “Detroit is busted now,” “nice shades,” “she has a great name now,” “the White Sox did their talking with their bats,” (The nature of metaphor and of metonym is not easy to pin down [metaphor]; they can be multi-layered [metaphor] or overlap [metaphor] so that we can’t be certain what we are hearing [metonym], much less how to map it [metaphor? Metonym?].) (“Skin of poor life”-- Taggard.)Object: anything in which we have invested feeling--a person, a thing, a place, an event, a sound, an anniversary date, a building, a pond, a car, a pair of earrings... See readings for May 10 and 12.Pentameter: a poetic line in five metrical feet (almost always iambic ones, with certain substitutions for the sake of rhythmic variety).Phonetic figure: the repetition of a sound (a phoneme)--the two phonemes have to be close enough together to be noticed. The sound may be a vowel or consonant, or more than one; it may occur anywhere in a word or even be formed by the end of one word and the beginning of another; if the repeated sound consists of several phonemes, they need not correspond exactly (“my sisters...mysterious,” “heard... auburn-haired,” “blue... Blow,” “twice... pride,” “makes snakes hiss,” etc. ); the phonemes may even be somewhat rearranged (“steps... Slept,”) or in different rhythmic positions (“portico... Sport,” “grass... Parnassus”).Quatrain: a stanza of four lines; it may be metrical in several traditional ways (“long meter” = four lines of iambic tetrameter rhyming abab; “common meter” or “common measure” or “ballad meter” = four lines of alternating tetrameter and trimeter in the pattern abab, and rhyming in the same pattern; “short meter” = 4 lines of which 1, 2, and 4 are trimeter, and 3 is tetrameter, rhymed abab or xbyb).Rhythmical figure: a small-scale rhythmical configuration that is noticeable as an artistic choice, whether in metrical or free verse.Speech stress: the natural stress with which an emphasized syllable is pronounced--as in the preceding phrase, in which the most noticeable speech stresses are on "nat-," "stress," "em-," "syl-," and "-nounced." There are weaker stresses, too, though, on "which," "-sized" and "-ble." It is helpful to think of English as having 4 degrees of stress--most stressed, somewhat stressed, nearly unstressed, unstressed. The unstressed syllables in the phrase above are "the," the second syllable of "natural," "with," "an," the second syllable of "emphasized," the second syllable of "syllable," and "is." The nearly unstressed syllables might be the last syllable of "natural," and "pro-." Assessing the relative degrees of stress is not a science; it's approximate, and it helps enormously in understanding how meter works. It's simply a matter of ear training--like learning to recognize intervals in music.Syntactical figure: either a (comprehensible) disruption of expected syntax or a repetition of a syntactical element (these are two rather different things) that foregrounds the intensity of expression or the specificity of the words; at the same time, a syntactical figure is a mark of artistic choice and a way of making language more perceptible as language. (Repetitions of words in Plath, “Fever 103º”; repeated structure of lines in Fearing, “Green Light”.)Trope: a poetic device (such as metaphor or metonymy) that "turns" the language toward more compressed meaning or that foregrounds an aspect of language to make it more perceptible. L a n g u a g e F u n c t i o n s “The linguist Michael Halliday observed his young son during the period when his vocalizations were assuming consistent phonological form and when he began to exhibit clearly an intention to communicate by means of these forms. Halliday was able to distinguish seven different functions, or uses, of his son’s talk, which he took to be models of the child’s conception of what talk is for. The first notion to emerge is that of talk as  instrumental, a means of satisfying wants or needs. Another function is  regulatory: the child discovers that others seek to control him by talking and that he can also control the behavior of others. The child also senses that one can establish and maintain contact with others by talking; he recognizes  the interactional function. The child also expresses his individuality in talking; he asserts himself and his own sense of agency, for talking is a field of action in which he can make choices and take some responsibility. Thus talking has  a personal function, as well.  The heuristic, or learning, function, is exemplified in the perennial questions ‘why?’ and ‘what’s that?’; the child finds that he can use talk to learn about and describe his world. And talking serves  the imaginative function of pretend, which may overlap with an aesthetic function (although Halliday does not dwell on this possibility) as the child realizes that he can create images and pleasurable effects by talking. Finally, the perhaps the latest use of talk to appear, is  the representational function, or talking to inform. Adults, when they think about language, regard it as a means of expressing propositions or as a means of conveying information. They view this as the primary function of talk, but it is hardly the dominant use for the child.” --Catherine Garvey, Children’s Talk, Harvard U. Press, 1984. See also “David Crystal on meaning and on language function” under “Course Documents on our Blackboard site. Crystal’s categorizing of language functions is different--he seems to look at functions also in terms of communicative effect, whatever the intention may be. So he writes of (1) expressing emotion, (2) expressing rapport, (3) expressing sound, (4) playing, (5) controlling reality, (6) recording [and preserving, I would add] facts, (7) expressing thought processes, (8) expressing identity, and he also situates the use of language in the context of technology. Pay special attention to his last point--keeping oneself aware of the diversity of language functions.