Perrine’s Sound and Sense

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My first thought when I saw this book was: "college textbook." That's exactly what it is! Used as a reference by some literature-based homeschool programs, this three-part, 450-page, paperback book covers every imaginable aspect of poetry in general studying poems rather than poets. Part 1 covers the elements of poetry each with instructive information, examples, discussion questions, exercises, writing suggestions, and a chapter review. Chapters include denotation and connotation, imagery, figurative language, allusion, meaning and idea, tone, musical devices, rhythm and meter, sound and meaning, pattern, and evaluating poetry. To give you an idea of the breadth of this resource, starting with a nursery rhyme Pease Porridge Hot - the chapter on Sound & Meaning discusses onomatopoeia (use of words which sound like what they mean "hiss"), the use of phonetic intensives (similar sounds), and other ways a poet can reinforce meaning through sound, such as choosing sounds and grouping for effect or controlling the speed and movement of the lines by the choice and use of meter. This instruction analyzes four poetry examples with follow-up discussion questions, including vocabulary and specific references to the examples. A summary exercise features paired quotations where a named poet wrote the version that more successfully adapts sound to sense. The student is asked to account for the difference. Following the instructive portion of the chapter, there are a number of poetry samples, each with discussion questions. This particular chapter ends with eight poetry references (all in the book) for which short essays discussing the relationship of the poem's sound to its meaning could be written. Part 2 of Sound and Sense provides technical help (how to handle quotations and documentation) and conceptual development (choosing a topic, etc.) when writing about poetry. Part 3 is an 80-page poetry anthology for the student's further reading and enjoyment. As mentioned earlier the focus of this book is the study of poetry. However, several poets' works are cited enough that a more in-depth study is possible. These include Emily Dickinson, John Donne, and Robert Frost along with contemporary artists, Maya Angelou, Billy Collins, Seamus Heaney, and Adrienne Rich. The Instructor's Manual provides extremely helpful talking points for the discussion questions attached to each particular poetry sample and answer keys for the exercises. It does not provide answers for the chapter reviews. ~ Janice

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