HOW GOOD ARE YOU AT WRITING POETRY?
I expect that you are becoming experts now in the world of poetry writing aren't you?
I have taught you that we use iambic feet for writing poetry because they like to walk across the page. So, tell me how many iambic feet you can see in each of these lines? They are taken from different children's poems:
1 All along the backwater
Through the rushes tall . . . .
2 Calico Pie
The little birds fly
Down to the Calico tree
3 Were you ever in Quebec
Stowing timbers on a deck
4 There were ten in the bed
And the little one said
5 Faster than fairies, faster than witches
Bridges and houses, hedges and ditches
You will want to know now if you were correct or not. I hope that your mother or father or teacher, perhaps, read these out to you and asked you to clap, and that they now can tell you if you were correct:
1 All along thebackwater = 4
Through the rushes tall = 3
This is a very common way of writing English poetry. It is seven iambic feet over two lines actually. You will see lots of poetry written in this way.
2 Calico pie = 2 iambic feet
The little birds fly = 2
Down to the Calico tree = 3
3 Were you ever in Quebec= 4 iambic feet
Stowing timbers on a deck = 4
4 There were ten in a bed = 2 (This was not quite true to iambic feet which have one small beat followed by one big one. Often writers do this on the first line of their poems. You will see that I do it. Sometimes, instead of starting with a small beat at the beginning of a poem, I come in on the heavy beat, omitting the little one. This is to give emphasis to the first line, eg LAdy MOON walks O'ER the EARTH - but then you go into the true iambic rhythm: eg To EACH new DAY she GIVES it BIRTH etc etc. Often writers end their poem in a similar way. You will often see I give a little skip to my last line with two short beats. Watch out for this. It is quite acceptable in poetry.
5 Faster than fairies, faster than witches = 4 - But this is a different rhythm isn't it? What are we doing? Well, we are going on to learn something new:
The last one that you did has something a little interesting about it for it goes
TUM ti ti TUM ti - TUM ti ti TUM ti
Rhythm in poetry can change the same as it can in a song. You don't get songs which all go ti TUM ti TUM ti TUM ti TUM - do you? Well, poetry is the same, and there are names for these changes.
Here are two for you to learn and practise:
TUM titty TUM titty TUM titty TUM - go on clap your hands and tap your foot and do this many times as you say it. The name of this is a dactyl.
Now write some sentences this way. You could start off:
FASter than BUSes and FASter than SPACE ships
BIGger than MOLEhills and BIGger than MOUNTtains
SMALler than FAIRies and SMALler than FIELDmice
Now your turn to write five in this way.
Poets and songwriters use this rhythm all the time. Here is an example from a Song by the Beatles called: Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds:
PICture yourSELF in a BOAT on the RIVer with
tangerine tree-ees and marmalade skii-ii-es.
In a song you can stretch the words out can't you, but not so well in poetry.
You may well remember a poem which has been on this website all the autumn called An Autumn Visit. What did I use?
AUTumn is WEARing her BRIGHT golden CROWN
Dactyls, of course. I have often used them. You can write lots of lines using dactyls. They are great fun.
FATHer is WEARing his OLD yellow SHIRT
DAVid is GOing to SEE a new FILM
How many words can you think of that sound like a dactyl? DAF- fo - dil? FLAT-ter-y? Yes, of course. What about names of people? My real name is JOS-e-phine. I didn't know I was a dactyl. What about JES-si-ca? Is Jessica also a dactyl? Yes, she is, but she is my little granddaughter and I haven't told her. What about the name John? No. Of course not. Annabel? Yes, she is. ANN-a-bel. Aren't these fun? I wonder if you thought of these two: PAT a cake PAT a cake or Higgledy Piggledy. Pat a cake goes on for the whole rhyme. Try it.
Well, before you leave this website, take a look at the changing poems that I am putting on for both children of all ages and for adults too. The more you read good poetry the more likely you are to write good poems yourself. I started writing poems before I knew anything about metre etc. I actually wrote mine in the style of poets from my youth whose work I enjoyed reading - ie Robert Louis Stevenson, Lewis Carroll etc. By reading good poetry, you will know what you like and what you don't like, and this will be reflected in your own writing. Good luck with your own writing.
Try some rhyming games now but before you go:
ONE MORE THING:
Before you go, always go to my Poetry Corner because I often either have a competition which your school can enter, or I give you lots of help with writing a poem of your own, which is always useful. There is a good competition on this website at the moment which I think your class might like to enter: And there's one for National Poetry Month for American schools too: