A poet builds concepts metaphor by metaphor. Each metaphor is a bridge leading the reader to more full understanding of whatever the writer is describing. Despite how frequently we use metaphors, however, many writers are confused about the word’s meaning.
(or: why you probably hate looking at poetic rhythm)
Students are typically taught rhythm through “scansion,” which is the process of marking the emphasis of each syllable of a poem. Typically, students are taught two levels of emphasis: unaccented ( x ) and accented ( / ). Scansion is used to identify rhythmic units (known as “feet”), especially in traditional poetic forms like sonnets and blank verse, where the repetition of “iambs” (syllable groupings, such as x /) are an important part of the poetic form.
While there are many aspects of lyricism, alliteration and assonance are two of the most important.
Alliteration is when you have a series of words with the same first consonant sound close together, e.g., Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers. Alliterative words can be right next to each other or a few words apart.
Assonance, like alliteration, has to do with words having similar sounds. With assonance you are looking for similar vowel sounds within the words, e.g., Molly donned a shawl for the fall ball.
April is National Poetry Month, we’re posting a short series on the basics of poetry. Whether you’re looking to refresh your skills or are interested in learning about poetry for the first time, we’ve got you covered. In these series, we will cover five core elements of poetry.
While I touch on colors as an example of abstraction, they can also serve as a way to understand the relational quality of language—and how that relational quality both limits and empowers us.
The History of Color
All colors are ranges of similar visual stimuli with recognizable qualities. Reds are “warm,” deeper and richer than what we call “orange”—but brighter than warm browns. “Red” remains an expansive concept, but by drawing abstract lines in liminal space we can communicate general ideas.
Part 2: The Origin of Language and the Ancestral Need for Stories
In the upcoming entries of my Write-Brained series, I’m going to dive into the question of how the different parts of our brain interact with language. To get there, though, I’m going to take you back into the origin of language itself—and search, briefly, for the purpose of storytelling.