The poet writes a poem on a SUBJECT to express his or her ideas, feelings or to discuss an issue. The THEME is the main idea the poet highlights or conveys to the readers. The TONE of the poem indicates the feelings or moods of the persona.
Now let’s see how poets use words to express meannings
The Use of Words in Expressing Meanings
Poets choose words carefully, meaningfully and cleverly to express their ideas, thoughts, feelings or emotions, and reflections. The words are arranged in a particular way (either in lines or in stanzas) to convey the poets’ intentions of writing the poem. Poets use personas (human or non-human characters) to be the medium to “talk to the readers’.
Imagery is chosen words or phrases that involve our five senses. These words and phrases give us a picture-like experience in our mind.
Our five senses are:
1. The sense of touch (We use our fingers, hands to touch).
When something touches or comes in contact with our skin we can feel it; warm air, cold water…
2. The sense of sight (We use our eyes to see).
When we see something we recognise it. We can identify colours, objects, people, lights…
3. The sense of hearing (We hear with our ears).
When we hear a particular sound, we would know what the sound is or where it is coming from. We can hear music, people’s voice, a tone from a musical instrument or sounds made by animals.
4. The sense of taste (We taste with our tongue).
When we eat snacks or a plate of noodle, we can taste the food we eat. From the taste we know whether the food is spicy, sweet, salty, tasty, bitter or sour.
5. The sense of smell (We use our nose to smell).
When we use perfumes, we smell fragrant or pungent. Using our sense of smell we know that something is burning or overcooked. We also know what smells pleasant and what makes us close our nose!
Poets use imagery to make us experience what the persona in the poem is experiencing. This makes the experience become more realistic or alive. Thus, we remember the experience, as we feel, we too share the experience through our own senses.
Here are some examples of how poets use imagery to work on our senses:
| Imagery|| Words and phrases used in the Poems|
| Sense of touch|| ‘creeps in this petty pace’ in Life’s a Brief Candle|
‘Clay and wattles made’ in The Lake Isle of
| Sense of sight|| ‘crowded morning clinic’ in The Dead Crow|
‘midnight’s all a glimmer’ in The Lake Isle of
| Sense of hearing|| ‘bee-loud glade ’ in The Lake Isle of Innisfree|
‘I hear lake water lapping ’ in The Lake Isle of
| Sense of smell|| ‘a dead crow ’ in The Dead Crow |
| Sense of taste|| ‘a hive for the honey bee’ in The Lake Isle of |
The Literature Component in the English Language Programme for Lower and Upper Secondary Schools in Malaysia
Lower Secondary (Forms 1-3)
Form One (Students need to study all the poems)
1. Life’s Brief Candle by William Shakespeare
2. The Dead Crow by A.Samad Said
3. The Lake Isle of Innisfree by W.B.Yeats