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Teacher Tips and Answers

Analyzing the Meaning of Poetry

Poetry uses different techniques to create different meanings. When you read a poem, watch for these kinds of techniques.

Connotation is the feeling that words create.

Grandma wore denim; mother wore silk.

(Denim has the connotation of being inexpensive, durable, and practical; silk has the connotation of being expensive, delicate, and dressy.)

Denotation refers to the literal meaning of words.

Grandma wore denim; mother wore silk.

(Denim is a cotton fabric; silk is a fabric made from the cocoons of silkworms.)

Imagery refers to what you see, hear, smell, taste, and touch.

In the trees, green leaves murmur.

In the grass dance sunlight stars.

(Imagery includes trees, green, murmur, grass, dance, sunlight stars.)

Metaphor is saying that one thing is another thing, without using like or as.

The speech was a lighthouse beacon,

Guiding me to shore.

(The speech is a beacon.)

Personification is giving human qualities to nonhuman things.

I wrestled the math problem all afternoon.

It pinned me to the mat.

(The math problem acts like a wrestler.)

Simile is comparing two things using like or as.

My dog is like Saturday,

Brimming with adventure and excitement.

(The dog is compared to Saturday, using like.)

Symbol is using one thing to stand for another.

She kept her heart in a safe

Where no one could ever break it.

(Her heart is a symbol of her inner self and her relationships.)

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