Your Own Poem
Task 1: Interpretation
Written by an anonymous author, “Abandoned Farmhouse” piques our interest. It is intriguing because of its ambiguity. Each reader brings his/her own prior knowledge to the poem and leaves, having drawn his/her own conclusions about the characters and the events in the poem. It is open to many interpretations. Your first challenge is to read the poem at least once and develop your own interpretation of the poem. When you are finished, pair up with your partner and discuss.
He was a big man, says the size of his shoes
On a pile of broken dishes by the house;
A tall man too, says the length of the bed
In an upstairs room; and a good, God-fearing man,
Says the Bible with a broken back
On the floor below a window, bright with sun;
But not a man for farming, say the fields
Cluttered on boulders and a leaky barn.
A woman lived with him, says the bedroom wall
Papered with lilacs and the kitchen shelves
Covered with oilcloth, and they had a child
Says the sandbox made from a tractor tire.
Money was scarce, say the jars of plum preserves
And canned tomatoes sealed in the cellar-hole,
And the winters cold, say the rags in the window-frames.
It was lonely here, says the narrow country road.
Something went wrong, says the empty house
In the weed-choked yard. Stones in the fields
Say he was not a farmer; the still-sealed jars
In the cellar say she left in a nervous haste.
And the child? Its toys were strewn in the yard
Like branches after a storm – a rubber cow,
A rusty tractor and a broken plow,
A doll in overalls. Something went wrong, they say.
What do you believe happened to the man, woman, and child in the poem? Explain using textual support.
How did the writer create AMBIGUITY?
Task 2: Inquiry and Identification of Poetic Devices Employed in “Abandoned Farmhouse” (individual)
After reading the poem, examine the following web links in order to determine which poetic devices the poet has used in “The Abandoned Farmhouse,” and respond to the following questions.
Glossary of Poetic Devices with Examples
Basic Definitions of Poetic Devices
Poetic Devices Illustrated Through the Lyrics of Billy Joel
Based on the websites you visited, explain the benefits of including poetic devices in poetry. What purposes do they serve?
Explain the role of personification in the “The Abandoned Farmhouse.” Is it an important element? Support your answer.
Identify at least three other poetic devices that are utilized in the poem. Provide an example for each, and explain the meaning behind each example.
Poetic Device Textual Reference Meaning/Interpretation
Task 3: Further Analysis (pairs)
Which sensory images in “The Abandoned Farmhouse” are particularly effective in building the desired mood (which is _____________________).
Look closely at the poem. Make some observations about the poet’s style.
Number of stanzas
Syllables per line
Marks of end punctuation
(kinds and frequency)
Why is it important to look critically at these elements? What knowledge do we gain about the poem? How do these elements contribute to the overall mood and/or message of the poem? Other comments…
Task 4: Becoming a Poet
Think of a place that would have a story to tell.
Imagine the people that would be a part of that story.
What event would occur there?
Below are a list of possible places for the setting of your personification poem. Feel free to check out the websites provided to get ideas. If you would prefer, come up with your own setting, have me approve it, then visit a website on that topic to gain more information.
Choosing a Setting
http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/waltdisneyworld/index Eiffel Tower
http://www.tour-eiffel.fr/teiffel/uk/home_nuit.html World Trade Center – NYC
A Tourist Site (pre-Sept. 11)
http://www.nyctourist.com/wtc_new1.htm A Tribute to the Victims
http://www.worldtradetribute.com/index5.htm Ocean City
http://www.jatruck.com/stonewall/gettysburg.html Yellowstone National Park
http://www.fireflyproductions.com/titanic/index.htm Space Shuttle
http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/living/index.html Other _______________________
Once you have decided what the setting of your poem is, you need to plan out the “meat” of your poem.
- Who are going to be the main characters? Describe them.
- What will your poem allude happened to the characters? Remember that your challenge is to be ambiguous, just like the author of “Abandoned Farmhouse.”
- What objects are present in this setting that can tell their story?
In Microsoft Word, write a poem that follows the style of “The Abandoned Farmhouse.” Be sure that you include the appropriate stanzas, personification, a consistent mood with includes 1. at least three ADDITIONAL poetic devices (highlighted in different colors so that they stand out), and 2. appropriate punctuation for the mood and tone of your poem. Do not forget to use correct grammar and spelling. (Utilize those features in Word.)
Writing Your Poem
For help in using Word, see Microsoft Word Tutorial at http://www.baycongroup.com/wlesson0.htm
For help in improving the vocabulary in your poem,
refer to the Merriam-Webster dictionary and thesaurus online at http://www.m-w.com/
Poetry Novice Apprentice Veteran Master Score Ability to Captivate the Reader Unfocused; author seems unsure of direction
Some focus, but lacks continuity
Well focused and interests reader throughout.
Captivates and involves reader deeply.
Use of Language and Poetic Devices Imprecise or inappropriate choice of words
Expresses thoughts marginally
Appropriate choice of language
Uses rich and imaginative language
Sensory Images Difficult to visualize image or emotion
Some use of image, idea, or emotion
Clear use of sensory images to portray ideas or emotions
Vivid, detailed images and intensely felt emotion
Source: Empowering Students through Negotiable Contracting to Draft Rubrics for Authentic Assessment © 1996 Andi Stix, Ed.D., US Department of Education: ERIC #TM027247 Punctuation Arbitrary punctuation
Some meaningful punctuation
Punctuation meaningful throughout
Punctuation enhances conveyance of thoughts and images
Locate and interpret another well-known poem that utilizes poetic devices on the web. Listed below are several valuable resource sites to peruse and examine.
http://www.poets.org/exh/Exhibit.cfm?prmID=3 -- The Modernist Revolution
http://www.poets.org/ -- The Academy of American Poets
http://www.english.uiuc.edu/maps/ -- Modern American Poetry
For extra credit, type the analysis in Word. Include the poem and author’s name, along with your interpretation and explanation of the use of the poetic devices.