• Say Hi to Haibun Fun

    Japanese musician, seated, playing shakuhachi flute

    In a typical high school language arts or social studies curriculum, students are asked to record events of their lives along with emotional responses and reflections. In contrast, the Japanese art of haibun, developed in Japan in the late 17th century by Matsuo Munefusa (Basho), focuses on objective reporting of the everyday moment and focusing the insights of that moment into a theme developed in a concluding poem. In this lesson students will be introduced to the Japanese writing form, the haibun.

  • Walt Whitman to Langston Hughes: Poems for a Democracy

    Walt Whitman.

    Walt Whitman sought to create a new and distinctly American form of poetry. His efforts had a profound influence on subsequent generations of American poets. In this lesson, students will explore the historical context of Whitman's concept of "democratic poetry" by reading his poetry and prose and by examining daguerreotypes taken circa 1850. Next, students will compare the poetic concepts and techniques behind Whitman's "I Hear America Singing" and Langston Hughes' "Let America Be America Again," and will have an opportunity to apply similar concepts and techniques in creating a poem from their own experience.

  • "World enough, and time"—Andrew Marvell's Coy Mistress

    Andrew Marvell (1621–1678), one of 17th-Century Britain's most illustrious  poets.

    Students explore the metaphysical poet Andrew Marvell's use of tone, imagery, and poetic form as he attempts to seduce his “Coy Mistress.”

  • Analyzing Poetic Devices: Robert Hayden's "Those Winter Sundays" and Theodore Roethke's "My Papa's Waltz"

    Theodore Roethke and Robert Hayden.

    Students examine the relationship of poetic form and content, shaped by alliteration, consonance, repetition, and rhythm, in two poems about fatherhood: Robert Hayden's "Those Winter Sundays" and Theodore Roethke's "My Papa's Waltz."

  • Midnight Ride of Paul Revere: Fact, Fiction, and Artistic License

    The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere, Grant Wood

    This lesson encourages close study of Wood's painting, American Revolution primary sources, and Longfellow's poem to understand the significance of this historical ride in America's struggle for freedom. By reading primary sources, students learn how Paul Revere and his Midnight Ride became an American story of patriotism.

  • Arabic Poetry: Guzzle a Ghazal!

    Southern Arabia, Alabaster (gypsum)

    This lesson engages students in the reading and writing of the ghazal, a public, participatory poetic form created by the ancient Bedouins of Arabia and Persia. Students examine the structure of the ghazal, which continues as a poetic form in India, Iraq, and Iran, to derive a definition of this intricate form of word-play, and collaboratively compose their own group ghazals.

  • Walt Whitman's Notebooks and Poetry: the Sweep of the Universe

    Walt Whitman.

    Clues to Walt Whitman's effort to create a new and distinctly American form of verse may be found in his Notebooks, now available online from the American Memory Collection. In an entry to be examined in this lesson, Whitman indicated that he wanted his poetry to explore important ideas of a universal scope (as in the European tradition), but in authentic American situations and settings using specific details with direct appeal to the senses.

  • Lesson 3: Navigating Modernism with J. Alfred Prufrock

    Planes, (subway) trains, automobiles and World War I

    In this lesson, students will explore the role of the individual in the modern world by closely reading and analyzing T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.”

  • A Story of Epic Proportions: What makes a Poem an Epic?

    Priam, King of Troy

    Some of the most well known, and most important, works of literature in the world are examples of epic poetry. This lesson will introduce students to the epic poem form and to its roots in oral tradition.

  • Poems of Tennyson and Noyes: Pictures in Words

    Photograph of Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

    Striking examples of poetic "pictures"-not just vivid images but the entire mental picture conjured up by a poet-are to be found in "The Charge of the Light Brigade," by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, and "The Highwayman," by Alfred Noyes. As they explore the means by which Tennyson and  Noyes create these compelling pictures in words, students will also learn the critical terminology to analyze and describe a variety of poetic techniques and will have an opportunity to create their own pictures in words.