Poetry Activity 7

Modernist Poetry ( ~ 1910 – 1965)


Wolfreys, Robbins and Womack in their book Key Concepts of Literary Theory define Modernism as a “…term referring to the literary, artistic and general culture of the first half of the twentieth century. Modernism is distinguished by its general rejection of previous literary traditions, particularly those of the late nineteenth century and of bourgeois society.”

Thus, poetry of the first half of the 20th  Century is distinguished by experimentation with form and style. Subject matter is frequently drawn from everyday life and mostly reflects the difficult experiences associated with two world wars and numerous minor wars.

Key Modernist poets include:

WB Yeats (1865 – 1939)

Robert Frost (1874 – 1963)

Edward Thomas (1878 – 1917)

DH Lawrence (1885 – 1930)

Ezra Pound (1885 – 1972)

TS Eliot (1888 – 1965)

Wilfred Owen (1893 – 1918)


Post Modernist Poetry ( ~ 1950 – Present)


The Oxford Concise Dictionary of Literary Terms defines Postmodernism as “…in its simplest and least satisfactory sense, it refers generally to the phase

of 20th century Western culture that succeeded the reign of ‘high’ modernism, indicating products of the age of mass-television since the mid 1950s.”

Key Post-Modernist poets include:

Robert Graves (1895 – 1985)

WH Auden (1907 – 1973)

Dylan Thomas (1914 – 1953)

Robert Lowell (1917 – 1977)

Philip Larkin (1922 – 1985)

Jack Kerouc (1922 – 1969)

Sylvia Plath (1932 – 1963)

Ted Hughes (1930 – 1998)



Become more familiar with these periods by researching each of the poets listed. You can choose to record this information if desired.

Poetry Activity 6


The ‘Age of Emotion’ was mirrored in America with the Transcendental movement of the 1830s to 1850s.

Key Transcendental poets include:

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 – 1882)

Edgar Allan Poe (1809 – 1849)

Margaret Fuller (1810 – 1850)

Henry David Thoreau (1817 – 1862)

Walt Whitman (1819 – 1892)

Emily Dickinson (1830 – 1886)


Victorian Poetry ( ~ 1837 – 1901)


Although there is much debate over when Romantic poetry finished and Victorian poetry began, the dates are defined by Queen Victoria’s rule over England.

The Industrial Revolution wrought radical changes in Western society. Like everything else, poetry evolved during this time and became increasingly academic and complex; particularly in terms of form and language. The subject matter of Victorian poetry had a tendency to explore social, scientific and religious matters, but this was by no means set in stone. In fact, Victorian poetry is difficult to define because it is so diverse.

That said, the Victorian period is known for the emergence of many important female poets, and for the use of dramatic monologue by its most successful poets: Tennyson and Browning. It also marks the rise of popularity in the novel, with many renowned authors having previously dabbled in poetry (e.g. Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Louise May Alcott, Herman Melville, George Eliot, Lewis Carroll, and Rudyard Kipling).

Key Victorian poets include:

Robert Browning (1812 – 1889)

Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806 – 1861)

Lord Tennyson (1809 – 1892)

Matthew Arnold (1822 – 1888)

Christina Rossetti (1830 – 1894)

Thomas Hardy (1840 – 1928)

Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844 – 1889)

The Bronte sisters: Charlotte, Emily and Anne



Become more familiar with these periods by researching each of the poets listed. You can choose to record this information if desired.


Poetry Activity 5


Sick of the bleeding heart poetry of the Elizabethan Age, a loosely connected group of poets called the Metaphysicals, or ‘men of learning’, began to write poetry towards the end of the 17th Century about the philosophy of emotion rather than emotion itself.

Key Metaphysical poets include:

John Donne (1572 – 1631)

George Herbert (1593 – 1633)

Richard Crashaw (1612 – 1649)

Henry Vaughan (1622 – 1695)


Enlightenment Poetry (~ 1700 – 1790)


Continuing this more intellectual approach to poetry, a new movement called the ‘Age of Reason’ or ‘Neoclassicism’ emerged during the period of history known as the Enlightenment. Poets took a restrained and considered approach to their writing, and much of their poetry lacked imagination and creativity.

Key Neoclassical poets include:

John Dryden (1631 – 1700)

Alexander Pope (1688 – 1744)

Samuel Johnson (1744 – 1784)


Romantic Poetry (~ 1790 – 1860)


As a reaction against the rationality of the Enlightment, the ‘Age of Emotion’ or ‘Romanticism’ emerged in the late 18th Century. The Romantic Age is considered one of the single largest artistic movements in Western history and numerous renowned literature works belong to this period.

Key Romantic poets include:

William Blake (1757 – 1796)

Robert Burns (1759 – 1796)

Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772 – 1834)

William Wordsworth (1770 – 1850)

Lord Byron (1788 – 1824)

Percy Shelley (1792 – 1822)

John Keats (1795 – 1821)




Become more familiar with these periods by researching each of the poets listed. You can choose to record this information if desired. In particular, focus on the poets of the Romantic Age and make sure to read examples of William Blake’s poetry from his collections ‘Songs of Innocence’ and ‘Songs of Experience’.

Poetry Activity 4

Renaissance & Elizabethan Poetry

(~ 1500 – 1700 AD)


The cultural movement started in Italy, known as the Renaissance, was slow in moving to other parts of the world. In England, the period from Chaucer to Shakespeare was fairly unproductive and many poets were content to imitate Chaucer’s style.

New forms of expression didn’t emerge until the first half of the 16th Century and were heavily influenced by Italian models, such as Shakespeare’s favoured sonnet.

One such work influenced by the Italian epic poem form is Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene, published in the 1590s. Spenser’s work describes the life and adventures of a number of King Arthur’s knights. It consists of 12 books of which Spenser completed six. Each book consists of 12 epic poems, each epic poem of 40 stanzas, and each stanza of nine lines (using a rhyming pattern and mostly an iambic pentameter rhythm).

Later English writers of epic poems remained closer to the classical pattern, and one of them, John Milton, produced the 1667 masterpiece, Paradise Lost. The poem, which runs to over 10,000 lines of blank verse, is divided into 12 books, has a biblical theme and aims to ‘justify the ways of God to men’.

The most famous poet of these times, however, is William Shakespeare. One of his most widely known sonnets is Sonnet 18, taken from his play Romeo and Juliet:

Shall I compare thee to a Summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And Summer’s lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And oft’ is his gold complexion dimm’d;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature’s changing course untrimm’d:
But thy eternal Summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;
Nor shall Death brag thou wanderest in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou growest:
So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

Shakespeare, borrowing from the Italian sonnet form, wrote 14-line sonnets using a quatrain-based rhyme scheme culminating in a final heroic couplet, with a regular iambic pentameter rhythm.

Finally, when discussing William Shakespeare, mention must be made of one of his earliest influences, the successful playwright Christopher Marlowe, who was stabbed to death in a tavern brawl at the age of 29.


In small groups, choose an appropriate topic and write a Shakespearean-style sonnet. You need to publish the poem on your blog by the end of the lesson. Please list all the author’s names and use your poem’s title as the post’s title.

You may also like to do further research on the poets and poems listed in this post.

Extracts taken from: ‘Poetry in English’ by Charles Barber, ‘How to Understand Poetry’ by Margaret Cutler-Stuart and ‘Six Centuries of Verse’ by Anthony Thwaite.

Poetry Catch-Up

Instructions to a Class

by Y. Teacher

After reading your blogs tonight

I really wonder and lament

Were you given too much to write?

Or is it just class time misspent?


Benefit of the doubt, I guess

On account of past work ethics

So use this class time to finesse

And finish your haikus and lim’ricks


With that in mind, please remember

To proofread before you submit

Don’t be an error offender

By using inappropriate wit


Make sure your rhyme and rhythm pops

Be a capital letter fixer

Don’t spatter commas and full stops

Like green tree frogs in a mixer


For poetic inspiration’us

You really should take time to read

Weasley’s ballad about Odysseus

And White Tiger’s Canterbury creed


Thing 1’s account of the Clerk’s Tale

Is galactic’ly splendifereus

Use Chaucer’s English to regale

As shown in this particular piece


Once you’ve completed all your posts

You can freely rejoice and say

One of Carroll’s most triumphant boasts:

‘O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!’


Now I’ve made my instructions clear (hopefully)

Make use of advantageous times

Put pen to paper ‘sometime this year’

And finish your bloomin’ blog rhymes


Poetry Activity 3

Medieval Poetry (~ 500 – 1500 AD)


English poetry is thought to have begun in the 5th or 6th centuries with the writing of Beowulf by an unknown poet. Beowulf is an epic poem about a Danish warrior who defends his country from a monster, called Grendel, and a fiery dragon. The poem is written using alliterative verse, meaning rhythm is created through a set number of stressed beats per line, linked via alliteration.


Whilst Italian in origin, mention must be made of Dante Alighieri’s renowned epic poem, Divine Comedy.  Written somewhere between 1308 and 1321, the poem is about Dante’s metaphorical journey through three places: Infero (Hell), Purgatorio (Purgatory) and Paradiso (Heaven). Dante makes reference to Virgil, the ancient Roman poet who penned the equally renowed epic poem, Aeneid. Divine Comedy is written in 3-line stanzas consisting of 11 syllables per line, with a rhyming scheme of aba, bcb, cdc and so on.


By far the most important Medieval poet was Geoffrey Chaucer (~1343 – 1400) who wrote The Canterbury Tales. The Canterbury Tales is a text that has been recognised as having a significant influence on the evolution of English as we know it today. The plan of the poem is explained in its ‘General Prologue’: a group of people on a pilgrimage to Canterbury meet in a tavern and agree to travel together; they also agree that, to pass the time on the journey, each pilgrim will tell two stories on the way to Canterbury and two more on the way back. The tales are mostly written using heroic couplets.


Before completing the activity below, please read this written word timeline.



Research one of the pilgrim’s tales from The Canterbury Tales. Once you’re familiar with the basics, write a haiku, limerick, ode or free verse about a related topic, incorporating a few words of Chaucer’s English. Your poem doesn’t need to be long, but you do need to publish it on your blog by the end of the lesson. Use your poem’s title as the post’s title.

You will find the information in these links useful:

Chaucer’s English Background

Chaucer’s English Glossary


Extension Activity:

Once you’ve finished your poem, try to figure out how to pronounce it…


Extracts taken from: ‘Poetry in English’ by Charles Barber and ‘How to Understand Poetry’ by Margaret Cutler-Stuart.

Poetry Activity 2

My Get Up and Go Has Got Up and Went

How do I know that my youth is all spent?
Well, my get up and go has got up and went,
But in spite of it all I am able to grin
When I think of the places my get up has been.

Old age is golden, so I’ve heard said
But sometimes I wonder, as I get into bed.
With my ears in a drawer, my teeth in a cup
And my eyes on the table until I wake up.

Ere sleep dims my eyes I say to myself
“Is there anything else I can put on the shelf?”
And I’m happy to say as I close the door
“My friends are the same, perhaps even more.”

When I was a young thing my slippers were red.
I could kick my heels as high as my head.
Then when I was older, my slippers were blue,
But still I could walk the whole day through.

Now I’m still older, my slippers are black.
I walk to the store and puff my way back.
The reason I know my youth is all spent,
My get up and go has got up and went.

But really, I don’t mind when I think with a grin,
Of all the grand places my get up has been.
Since I have retired from life’s competition
I busy myself with complete repetition.

I get up each morning and dust off my wits,
Pick up the paper and read the ‘obits’,
If my name is missing I know I’m not dead
So I eat a good breakfast and go back to bed.

Denny Davis



Ancient Poetry


Tales from ancient times were preserved and shared orally. To aid memorisation, many of these tales had rhythmic qualities and could often be accompanied by an instrument. Thus, their musicality is a determinant of their poetic form. However, it is important to remember with translated poetry, that rhyme and rhythm can be lost.

The Epic of Gilgamesh is, perhaps, the oldest recorded poetry. The epic poem originates from Ancient Sumeria and was originally written on 12 clay tablets. It is about the adventures of the King of Uruk (~ 2750 and 2500 BC) and his friendship with Enkidu, a wild man created by the Gods to temper Gilgamesh’s tyrannical nature. The Epic of Gilgamesh has a sense of rhythm and repetition, but there is no consistent pattern.

Besides Gilgamesh, the oldest epic poems are Homer’s Greek classics, Iliad and Odyssey, composed between ~ 800 and 600 BC. Iliad is a tale related to the Trojan War, and Odyssey is a sequel detailing Odysseus’ voyage from the war back home to Ithaca. Both poems are written using the fairly complex rhythmic pattern, dactylic hexameter.



Research the above poems to learn more about their plots and characters. Once you’re familiar with the basics, write a haiku, limerick, ode or free verse about a related topic (e.g. Ode to Enkidu). Your poem doesn’t need to be long, but you do need to publish it on your blog by the end of the lesson. Use your poem’s title as the post’s title.


Poetry Activity 1


Workshop by Billy Collins

Maybe it’s just me,

but the next stanza is where I start to have a problem.



Before we can start our study of poetry, there are a few terms you need to understand. Open a new Word document and create a ‘Poetry Glossary’ using the words and links provided below.

Verse (line)


Rhyme (rhyme schemes)

Rhythm (meter)









Blank verse

Free verse

Poetic devices:




Once you’ve finished your glossary, write a haiku, limerick, ode or free verse about a topic of your choice. The poem doesn’t need to be long, but you do need to publish it on your blog by the end of the lesson. Use your poem’s title as the post’s title.



Dream Interview Contest Results

Dear Teacher

Thank you for entering Newspapers in Education’s Dream Interview Contest.

Two teams have been selected to hold their dream interviews for real.  They are:

Coolbinia Primary School

Year 6: Amberley, Madison, Isabel and Elisheva

Interviewee:   Dr Fiona Wood, Burns specialist

 Halls Head Primary School

Year 6/7: Helaina Dowd-Pontes, Tori La Marr, Chelsee Callaghan and Ciara Nolen.

Interviewee:   Bindi Irwin, children’s television presenter and conservationist

You can read their edited interviews in ED! Magazine over the next two weeks.

Special commendation also to these teams for making it into the top five finalist entries:

Illawarra Primary School

Year 6: Ashlei Andrijich, Tenesha Moore, Reece Fisher, Maddison Green and Matthew Servis

Quentin Bryce, Governor-General of Australia.

Roleystone Community College

Harry, Max, Dylan, Paul, Jason and Daniel

Stephanie Rice, Australian swimmer

Illawarra Primary School

Year 6: Callum McKinnon, Brooke Debono, Lucas Cox, Kael Bedrich and Holly Prentice

Ben Roberts-Smith, Australian soldier and war hero

Greta Ambrose
Newspapers in Education
The West Australian

Short Story Assessment Task

Writers are often inspired by images. Here are a few of my favourite images:


Your task is to find an image that inspires you. Your image can be any medium (e.g. a sketch, painting, photograph, album cover). You need to write a short story inspired by your image, using the criteria outlined in the ‘Tim Winton Award for Young Writers’.


– Entries must be prose of any length up to a maximum of 2000 words.

– Entries must be submitted on standard A4 paper and be typed or handwritten.

– You must provide a hand-written draft/s with evidence of proofreading, along with your published entry.

– Your creative writing blog posts will form part of this assessment task.  You must also post your image on your blog using the title of your short story.

– The due date is Wednesday 23rd May.