• Introducing Metaphors Through Poetry

    Celebrated American poet Maya Angelou makes extensive use of metaphors in her  poetry.

    Metaphors are used often in literature, appearing in every genre from poetry to prose and from essays to epics. This lesson introduces students to the use of metaphor through the poetry of Langston Hughes, Margaret Atwood, and others.

  • Lessons of the Indian Epics: The Ramayana

    Lessons of the Indian Epics image

    The Ramayana (ram-EYE-ya-na) and the Mahabharata (ma-ha-BA-ra-ta), the great Indian epics, are among the most important works of literature in South Asia. Both contain important lessons on wisdom, behavior and morality, and have been used for centuries not only as entertainment, but also as a way of instructing both children and adults in the exemplary behavior toward which they are urged to strive and the immoral behavior they are urged to shun. In this lesson, students will read an abridged version of the Ramayana, and will explore the ways in which the story of Rama contains elements, such as the Epic Hero Cycle, that place it within the epic poetry tradition.

  • Symmetry in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

    "Sir Gawaine the Son of Lot, King of Orkney" from The Story of King Arthur and His Knights

    King Arthur, Camelot, Gawain, a bold challenge, a perilous journey, a beheading, an enchantment, and a shape-shifter are the ingredients of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. For the modern reader, Sir Gawain's tale is riveting even without understanding its symmetry or cultural and historical context. Viewed through the lens of the medieval thinker, reading this Arthurian tale becomes a rich, multi-layered experience.

  • Recognizing Similes: Fast as a Whip

    American poet ee cummings made vivid use of similes in his work.

    Similes are used often in literature, appearing in every genre from poetry to prose and from epics to essays. Utilized by writers to bring their literary imagery to life, similes are an important component of reading closely and appreciating literature.

  • Lesson 1: Understanding the Context of Modernist Poetry

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

    Understanding the context of literary modernism (specifically, modernist poetry) is important for students before they analyze modernist texts themselves. To that end, this lesson enables students to explore and consider the forces that prompted such a “fundamental change” in human nature.

  • Browning's "My Last Duchess" and Dramatic Monologue

    Robert Browning (1812–1889).

    Reading Robert Browning’s poem “My Last Duchess,” students will explore the use of dramatic monologue as a poetic form, where the speaker often reveals far more than intended.

  • Robert Frost's "Mending Wall": A Marriage of Poetic Form and Content

    Robert Frost

    Studying Robert Frost's "Mending Wall," students explore the intricate relationship between a poem's form and its content.

  • Preparing for Poetry: A Reader's First Steps

    William Shakespeare

    Students are often gleeful to discover that their reading homework involves only a few short poems. Yet the attentive student realizes that carefully reading a poem involves as much work as reading a short story, article, or passage from a novel. This lesson teaches students how to read a poem so that they are prepared, rather than simply present, for class discussion.

  • "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."