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Sound Pictures in Poetry

Mr. Glover. G9 Poetry

Language, Sound, rhythm, Tone

Sound Devices •

Sound devices are resources used by poets to convey and reinforce the meaning or experience of poetry through the skillful use of sound. 

After all, poets are trying to use a concentrated blend of sound and imagery to create an emotional response. 

The words and their order should evoke images, and the words themselves have sounds, which can reinforce or otherwise clarify those images. 

All in all, the poet is trying to get you, the reader, to sense a particular thing, and the use of sound devices are some of the poet’s tools.

Language There are certain features of language that you should look out for in poetry and write about in your essay. ! Try to find examples of them in the text and think about what effect they have. Why do the poets use that particular feature? What are they trying to convey?! The choice of adjectives (describing words). They might be simple or complex.! Any images or symbols that convey particular ideas.! The use of any techniques such as simile, metaphor or onomatopoeia.

Tone Make the idea of tone simpler by thinking about it like this: if you were reading the poem aloud, how would you do it? ! What kind of voice would you use? ! How would you want an audience to react when they hear it? ! Practice thinking about tone by reading a number of different poems. How do the poets want the audience to react to each one?

Sound Some people find writing about sound difficult because you need to read the poem aloud to hear what it sounds like. ! Try to answer the following questions when you are considering the sounds in poetry:! Does the poet use rhyme or echoing sounds to bring certain words together and reinforce the meaning?! Does the poet use repetition to emphasize certain words?! Does the poet use a definite rhythm throughout the poem, or in part of the poem, which reinforces the meaning?

Sound devices Another set of tools available to the poet, the third in our review, are sound devices. These help bring out the musical qualities of lyric poems. ! The six we will examine are:!

•Alliteration: The repetition of initial sounds! Assonance: The repetition of vowel sounds! Consonance: The repetition of consonant sounds! Euphony: An overall pleasant and calming sound! Cacophony: An overall harsh, unpleasant sound! Onomatopoeia: Words that imitate sounds

Unrelated Incidents Tom Leonard ! ! !

Poem 2 G9 - Poetry Mr. G

Analysis Question How does the poet, Tom Leonard, use sound devices to influence his readers in the poem Unrelated Incidents?

Read through the poem What do you think this poem is about? What main idea do you think the poet is developing in this poem? What lesson about life (theme)do you think the poet is trying to bring to your attention? How do you think the poet develops these ideas? How does the poets use of sound and sound devices help him to develop his ideas in this poem?

So, what is the poem all about?

Context of Poem Tom Leonard was born in Glasgow, and still lives there. He has described his childhood upbringing as "working class West of Scotland Irish Catholic" (his father was from Dublin). Although his passport identifies him as a British citizen, Tom Leonard sees himself as thoroughly Scottish. Some of his poetry is written in his own Glaswegian dialect. His aim has always been to make poetry using 'my own ordinary workingclass West of Scotland speech, that is still poetry'. He says he is interested in 'the political nature of voice in British culture'. 'Unrelated Incidents' is a set of six poems, each of which looks at some aspect of the way we use language. It was written in 1976.

What is the poem about? • The poem seems to be spoken by a BBC newsreader. • He or she explains why the BBC thinks it is important to read the news in a 'BBC accent': no one will take the news seriously if it's read with a 'voice lik/wanna yoo/scruff'. It is not that simple, though!

• He or she speaks here in the accent of an ordinary speaker/viewer - just the kind of voice the newsreader is rejecting.

• A newsreader would never really reveal his or her prejudices

directly to the viewer in this way. So what the newsreader 'says' in this poem perhaps needs to be seen as the unspoken message (or sub-text) of the way the news is presented.

• Try re-writing the same poem in standard English. Would it carry the same 'trooth'?

What techniques does the poet use to develop his ideas?

Use of Sound The poem is carefully written in a phonetic version of the Glasgow accent. If you pronounce it exactly as it's written, it should sound more or less like a Glaswegian voice. Why has the poet written the poem in this way?

Language The poet has played with language in a number of ways, apart from the phonetic spelling: There is almost no punctuation. There are lots of slang and colloquial words ('scruff, belt up'). The newsreader talks directly to the reader (or viewer). How do these features add to the effectiveness of the poem? For example, there is a mismatch between the conventional image of BBC newsreaders, and what this one is saying - calling the viewers 'yoo scruff' and telling them to 'belt up'. The lines of the poem are very short. What effect does this have (especially when you read it aloud)? Does it make the poem sound serious or amusing?

Tone and Ideas How would you read this poem? Is it an amusing poem? Is it a serious poem? Perhaps it is both. Is the poet arguing that this is actually the way the media think about us? He believes that the media sees the viewers in Glasgow, or indeed the viewers in most other parts of Britain, as 'scruffs'. Do you think this is fair? The humour has a satirical edge: it uses humour to make serious criticisms. Finally, do you think things have changed since 1976, when the poem was written? Are BBC newsreaders still chosen for their 'BBC accents'? What does a Scottish accent - in a TV commercial for example - 'say' about itself these days?


Tom Leonard

Analysis Question How does the poet, Tom Leonard, use poetic devices to influence his readers in the poem Unrelated Incidents? Try to develop at least one point around Leonard’s use of sound.


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Sound Devices