Week 21–The Sounds of Poetry

Image result for jackie robinson steals home
Jackie Robinson stealing home, 1955

The best songs have sound effects in the lyrics–they have rhyme and rhythm and repetition of sound. It can be the same with poetry.

Last week we learned about how iambic pentameter is a beat, a rhythm.

da DUH / da DUH / da DUH / da DUH / da DUH

This week you are going to review rhythm and meter, but I also want you to  look at other poetic sound effects.

The poems we are going to study this week have to do with sports. They are exciting, and contain action and tension, and the poets use sound effects to create that feeling–the beauty and fever of the game. The first poem is about Jackie Robinson, who played second base for the Brooklyn Dodgers. If you haven’t seen the movie 42, I recommend it. It is so good. It is PG-13 so you need to check with your parents, but it shows the extreme racism that Robinson had to struggle with, as he earned the respect he deserved all along. The other poem is about an unnamed basketball player whose slam dunk wins the game.

Maybe we can get Christahn to write us a poem about a hockey game??? hint-hint 🙂


  • Literary Terms Project notes (copy “Other Sounds”)
  • Copy down the Edgar Allan Poe poem about the bells. Highlight every word that is an example of onomatopoeia. Write “Activity 12” at the top of the page
  • Read “The Base Stealer” (below)


Wednesday —

  • Literary Terms Project notes (copy “Alliteration” to the end)
  • Read common examples of alliteration
  • Questions for Thought And Analysis (below)


  • Poetry of Music???? CANCELLED


Literary Terms Project Notes:

Other Sounds Singing

Rhyme and rhythm are not the only ways to create the sounds of poetry. Two other important techniques are the onomatopoeia and alliteration. The names may be difficult to say, the the techniques are easy to learn and use.

Onomatopoeia: Imitating Sounds

Onomatopoeia is the use of the words that sound like what they mean. We use onomatopoeia when we say a cannon “booms” or bacon “sizzles.” The words can echo a natural sound (hiss, slap, rumble, snarl, moan) or a mechanical sound (whack, clickety-clack, putt-putt, toot).

Alliteration: Repeating Sounds

Alliteration is the repetition of the same consonant sound in several words, usually at the beginning of the words: fragrant flowers, hot and heavy, dog days. Alliteration can also be the repetition of similar but not identical sounds: a series of p’s and b’s or s’s and z’s. The repetition of vowel sound is called assonance.

Alliteration and onomatopoeia can sometimes be used together to echo sounds. Here is another example from “The Raven.”:

The silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain

The alliteration of “silken sad uncertain” and the onomatopoeia of “rustling” combine to imitate the sound that wind makes blowing past silk draperies. (Elements of Literature, 456).

I also noticed the assonance with the words “purple” and “curtain” in the quote from “The Raven,” as well.

Image result for onomatopoeia poem

Common Examples of Alliteration

In our daily life, we notice alliteration in the names of different companies. It makes the name of a company catchy and easy to memorize. Here are several common alliteration examples.

  • Dunkin’ Donuts
  • PayPal
  • Best Buy
  • Coca-Cola
  • Life Lock
  • Park Place
  • American Apparel
  • American Airlines
  • Chuckee Cheese’s
  • Bed Bath & Beyond
  • Krispy Kreme
  • The Scotch and Sirloin

Image result for jackie robinson steals home

The Base Stealer, by Robert Francis

Poised between going on and back, pulled
Both ways taut like a tightrope-walker,
Fingertips pointing the opposites,
Now bouncing tiptoe like a dropped ball
Or a kid skipping rope, come on, come on,
Running a scattering of steps sidewise,
How he teeters, skitters, tingles, teases,
Taunts them, hovers like an ecstatic bird,
He’s only flirting, crowd him, crowd him,
Delicate, delicate, delicate, delicate—now!

Image result for jackie robinson steals home

American Hero, by Essex Hemphill

I have nothing to lose tonight.
All my men surround me, panting,
as I spin the ball above our heads
on my middle finger.
It’s a shimmering club light
and I’m dancing, slick in my sweat.
Squinting, I aim at the hole
fifty feet away. I let the tension go.
Shoot for the net. Choke it.
I never hear the ball
slap the backboard. I slam it
through the net. The crowd goes wild
for our win. I scored
thirty-two points this game
and they love me for it.
Everyone hollering
is a friend tonight.
But there are towns,
certain neighborhoods
where I’d be hard pressed
to hear them cheer
if I move on the block.

Image result for lamelo chino hills

This week (or last week, the time you read this) Chino Hills High School Sophomore point guard LaMelo Ball, scored 92 points in a regulation 32 minute game. This is amazing. He was on the news and everything. Please read the NBC article below and watch his skills (there is a video of all of his shots if you scroll down).

LaMelo Scores 92 Points For Chino Hills High School (NBC)

Questions for Literary Response and Analysis

  1. In the first four lines of “The Base Stealer,” what is the character’s situation? What is he doing?
  2. List at least three verbs that describe what the player in “American Hero” is doing before the crowd goes wild in line 12.
  3. Find three lines in “The Base Stealer” that use alliteration to describe the base stealer’s actions. Where is alliteration used in “American Hero” to describe the basketball player and his game? Read the lines in both poems aloud, and explain the effects created by the repeated sounds.
  4. Find at least three examples of onomatopoeia in “American Hero.” How do those words contribute to the poems appeal?
  5. Notice how the sentence structure in “The Base Stealer” suggests motion and helps to convey the actions being described. How does the sentence structure in lines 1-2 reflect the meaning of those lines? Why do you think Francis lists four verbs in line 7? Find two different commands that Francis repeats to make us feel part of the crowd cheering the player on.
  6. Find three similes in “The Base Stealer” that compare the movements of the base stealer to other movements.
  7. Read “American Hero” out loud to hear how the short sentences recreate the tension of a basketball game. Which part of speech–noun, verb, adverb, or adjective–is emphasized most in these sentences? Why?
  8. Both these poems are about sports. Which poem also has a serious message and what is it? How does that poem’s title create a sense of irony–a sense the that title does not mean exactly what it says?

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