Welcome to Unit 8:3(3) 

Review: Previously in Unit 8:2, we discussed about how to teach the sub topic ‘Talking about reservation’ in Form Two. In this sub topic, students were introduced to the various techniques and ways of making or talking about one’s reservations or bookings to various places or areas.

In this Unit 8:3, we will learn how to teach the sub topic, Identifying main features of different genres’ in Form Three. In this sub topic, we will again guide students to identify and analyse various features of play, novel, and poetry as they are applied in literature.

(Also: For Literature in English Subject, Check out my Literature in English Blog. Also check out My Diary for Diary Writing Inspiration and More! )

2. Sub Topic: Identifying main features of different genres.
3. Periods per sub topic: 6
4: Class: Form Three.

The student should be able to identify main features of different genres. In literature, there are three different genres. Each of the genres has its own features. These features are to be studied by the students so that they can be able to distinguish between the three genres. Knowing these differences also help students to become good readers of the literary works that are expected to be analysed under this course.



In PART THREE of this sub topic, we will discuss about the main features of poetry. Together with these main features, meaning, history, forms, and types of poetry will be covered as well.

In this activity, the teacher introduces students to the definition of poetry, the differences between poetry and poem, origin and development of poetry, and types of poetry.
Poetry is a form of literary expression that differs from prose in emphasizing the line as the unit of composition. Poetry is also defined as the literary genre that is presented in verses and stanzas as well as musical features.
The origin and development of poetry.
The word itself, ‘Poetry’ is derived from a Greek term, ‘Poesis’ which means ‘making or creating’. Whereas ordinary speech and writing called ‘prose’ are organized in sentences and paragraphs, ‘poetry’ in its simplest definition, is organized in units called lines as well as sentences, and often in stanzas, which are the paragraphs of poetry.
The reader recognizes poems by their appearances on the page, and he responds to that convention when he recognizes them by reading them aloud in a quite different tone of voice from that which he applies to prose even in sentence he confers upon a piece of poetry an attention that differs from what he gives to prose in two ways, especially in tone an in pace.

The French poet Paul Valery said that prose was walking, poetry was dancing. Indeed, the original two terms, prosus and versus, meant respectively ‘going straight forth’ and ‘returning’-hence poetry’s tendency to incremental repetition, variation, and the treatment of many matters and different themes in a single recurrent form such as couplet, or stanza.
Poetry is different from the plain prose we speak and from the flat language of the committee report we read. Poetry has a beat or a roll, a melody and a texture. It is full of expressions that please us, surprise us, and make us laugh or cry. Our instincts alone tell us that when words are put together in a certain way, they are poetry. Yet we all know poetry when we hear it-whether it is a passage from the Bible, the chorus of a song, or some striking phrase overheard on a city street.
Poetry may be written independently, as discrete poems, or may occur in conjunction with other arts, as in poetic drama, hymns, lyrics, or prose poetry.
Poetry may be narrative (telling a story as in a ballad or a long epic poem) or lyrical (shorter subjective or reflective poems that include specific types such as the sonnet, the ode and the elegy.)

Broad Types of Poetry
Traditionally, poems have been classified into two major types:
  •   Traditional poems. These are also called closed poems, or formal poems. These poems follow the strict poetic principles and rules such as balance in the number of words for each stanza, rhyming, balance in rhythm as well as having equal number of words for each line in every stanza. However, some modern poems observe rhyme while others do not.
  •   Modern Poems. These are also called Open, Free verse, or informal poems. These poems do not rhyme or they must not necessarily follow the strict poetic rules mentioned in the first category.
The situation of a poem to be traditional or modern does not have a direct relationship with time. A poem may be composed today and yet be regarded as traditional poem only because it follows formal poetic rules. Moreover, closed poems are also called formal poems because of conforming to the formalities and poetic standards, or in other words, poetic rules, as mentioned earlier.

Other ways of classifying poems: (Types of Poetry according to form and content)
Apart from the earlier categorization of poems into traditional and modern poems, there are other ways of classifying poems. These classifications are the ones that combine the elements of form and content as used in literature. They are as follows:
  •   Lyric poetry. Is the short poem which expresses strong and deep feelings. Is the poetry that focuses on expressing emotions or thoughts, rather than on telling a story. The term ‘lyric’ comes from Greek where in ancient time lyric poems were recited to the accompaniment of a stringed instrument called the ‘lyre’.  Most lyrics are short and they usually imply rather than directly state a single strong emotion. Some examples of lyric poems are Eat More, The Trial, and You are Lost are lyric poems.
  •   Ballad. Is a poem in which there are two or more people speaking in turn. Thus, it is a song or songlike poem that tells a story. It is a dramatic type of poem as it is presented like a drama and in drama people talk to each other in turn. ( Also see Ballad, as a form of Oral Literature).
  •   Sonnet. Is a lyric poem that contains fourteen lines in two stanzas. Is a fourteen-line lyric poem that has one of several rhyme schemes. In sonnet, the first stanza is an eight-line octave that usually presents a problem, poses a question, or expresses an idea, which the second six-line stanza (sestet) resolves, or answers.
  •   Narrative poetry. Is a poem that tells a story on a certain event or issue that happened. The story is usually told by a persona. Narrative poems have a narrator (persona) and they often use literary devices such as dialogue and figurative language. Ballads and epics are all types of narrative poetry.
  •   Didactic poetry. Is the poetry designed to give instructions to the readers. It includes all the poems that teach lessons to the audience. Didactic poems are mainly for political or social messages. That means, they are dominantly about social and political changes. Your Pain, If We Must Die, and Sunrise are good examples of didactic poems.
  •   Epic. Is the poem that presents heroic characters or heroes. It is usually a long poem that deals with the actions or bravery of great men in the history of a certain society. For, instance, it can be for praising the great deeds of a soldier who went to a war and brought home victory.
  •   Elegy. Is a lyric poem that expresses sadness about someone who has died. Is a poem that mourns the death of a person or that laments something lost. It is a type of lyric that is usually written in formal language structure and is solemn or melancholy in tone.
  •   Ode. Is a poem that addresses a person or a thing or celebrates an event. Is a complex and long lyric poem on a serious subject. An ode can be in formal or dignified style used in ceremonial or public occasions or in much more personal and reflective style.
Note: Lyrics, ballads, and sonnets are the types of poems that are mostly read and analysed in under this course. Other types are rarely applied or are combined with other types. For example, a poem like Your Pain is modern didactic poem, and it is also lyric because it is short and it expresses strong feelings of the persona.

In this activity, a teacher is going to guide students to discuss the Features of poetry.
Poetry is also one of the most popular forms of literature. This makes it different from other genres of literature as well.
In discussing the features of a play, students are guided to use correct structural patterns in describing the features of play. The following patterns can be used:
  • A poem is divided ….( For example, a poem is divided into stanzas and verses)
  • A poem consists of …. (For example, a poem consists of rich imagery and figures of speech)
  • A poem is made up of …. (For example, a poem is made up rhymes and rhythm)
If there are available copies of some poems, a teacher may supply them to the students and have them discuss what features they see in groups. Let them discuss what they see by using appropriate patterns you have given them. After getting their various responses, now you can lead them to the discussion of the features of poetry.
The following are the features that distinguish poetry as a fiction work different from other literary genres:

Features of Poetry that distinguishes poetry from other genres of literature.
Poetry refers to the literary genre that is presented in verses and stanzas as well as musical features. Poems are meant to be sung or read aloud. The following are the features of poetry that make it a different literary genre:
  •   Poetry is split into units called lines/verses and stanzas. Novels and plays are not split in these ways.
  •   The character of a poem is the persona. He/she differs from the characters found in novels and plays in that a persona hardly bears a name.
  •   Poetry is richer in imagery than any other literary genres. It very much appeals to senses of touch, hearing, sight, smell, and taste than other genres.
  •   Poetry uses figures of speech more plentifully than other literary genres.
  •   Poetry consists of musical features such as rhyme and rhythm. But novels and plays are intended to be read silently and have no much musical features like those of poetry.
  •   Poetry employs language economy. Poetry says much in few words. So, poets say much in few words.
Poetry is a literary genre that has more related terms (poetic terms) than any other genre of literature. Of course, some of the elements of literature are shared by both literary genres, but there are special elements that are specifically for poetry. It is also good idea to guide students to understand these elements because they are there when poems are analysed.
Important Poetic Terms and Other Elements of Poetry.
The study of poetry involves the use of a variety of technical terms. Understanding them is important  for the appreciation of poetry. The following is a list of some poetic terms used in literature in general and in poetry in particular:
Poem. Is a metrical composition characterized by strong imagination, emotion, and appropriate language. A poem is an arrangement of words containing meaning and musicality. Most poems take the form of a series of lines separated into groups called stanzas.
Line. Also a verse. Is a line in a stanza. A verse is formally a single metrical line in a poetic composition; one line of poetry or poem. A verse is a single line in a poem.
Stanza. A stanza is normally a sum of verses that combine to form a block-like paragraph or group of lines which is called a stanza. A poem has at least one stanza. Stanzas in poetry are the equivalent of paragraphs in prose.
Refrain. A refrain is a word, phrase, line, lines or group of lines that are repeated at the end of each stanza. It adds music and it emphasizes a point.
Persona. A persona is a person who speaks in or narrates in a poem. In other words, a persona refers to the character of the poem. Sometimes a poet may use ‘I’ but he/she does not refer to himself or herself. The poet puts himself in the shoes of another person. For example, a poet may be live in a settled country, but he can decide to write a poem about one troubled refugee.
Speaker. This is the voice that is talking to us in a poem. Sometimes the speaker is the same as the poet, but the poet may also create a different voice, speaking as a child, or even as an object.
Poetic license. This is the privilege which poets are given to break the grammatical rules of language. The pronunciation rules may also be violated in order to meet the metrical rules or needs. For example, the poet may write ‘out they go’, instead of ‘they go out’ without sounding ungrammatical. However, if the poet does not have grammatical competence of a language he/she cannot be said to be using poetic license.
Inversion. Is the reversal of normal word order in a sentence, especially in a prose sentence or in a line of poetry. The normal word order in an English sentence is SVC (if there is ‘C’). When writers use inversion, the sentence elements are put in a different order. Poets use inversion to give emphasis and variety and to create rhymes or accommodate a meter.
Meter*. Meter in poetry is what brings the poem to life and is the internal beat or rhythm with which it is read. Meter in poetry is a rhythm of accented and unaccented syllables arranged into feet. The most common is one soft foot and one hard foot and is called an iamb. There are several kinds of meter, but most poetry uses s five-beat meter, with iambic feet, called iambic pentameter. The most common metrical patterns are two: iambic pentameter: A dog| is not| allowed| to run| away|. Trochaic pentameter: Try to| see the| morning| sunlight| shining.
Foot*. A foot is a unit consisting of at least one stressed syllable and usually one or more unstressed syllables.
Ellipsis. Is the act of leaving out some words which writer or an artist thinks they are less important. The ellipted words may be filled by the reader in mind as he/she reads the work. In poetry, ellipsis is mainly used to save space (for word economy). The words which are more likely to be ellipted are functional words like prepositions, auxiliary verbs, conjunctions, as well as determiners. It is an effective visual device to add interest to a poem.
Tone. Is the attitude of the poet. It refers to the poet’s state of mind. This state of mind is expressed through the use of language. Thus, the tone of the poet may be angry, sad, ironic, or satirical tone. Tone helps the reader to know what the persona wants to advocate for.
Mood. In poetry, mood is the overall emotional tone pervades a section of or the whole poem, directing the reader’s expectations toward the nature of the course of events in the poem. The mood of a poem creates an atmosphere of fear, happiness, or other emotions that the reader deciphers and factors into the meaning found in the poetry.
Atmosphere*. Is a mood or feeling inn a work of literature (also called a mood). Atmosphere is usually created through descriptive details, and evocative language. For example, when a work of art is set in the abandoned old houses, it may create an atmosphere of horror.
Attitude*. The attitude of a piece of writing or a speech is closely related to the tone of the piece. The attitude of a piece can be thought of as a broader concept than tone but one that is comprised of the various tones within a piece. For example, an attitude of criticism of a particular topic might be composed of a mixture of negative, persuasive, and objective tones that all combine to help convey the overall attitude.
Poet. A poet is a person who composes poems. Or is a person who uses most of his time to communicate with the society through poems. The female poet may be called a poetess.
Poetic diction. A poetic diction refers to the choice and arrangement of words in poetry. Poets are very keen in the choice of words to make them suit what they want to convey. The careful choice of words is what makes word economy possible. In its broadest sense, diction is defined as the choice of words used while syntax is the way those words are structured within a writing or a speech. For example, short, choppy sentences can contribute to a feeling of anticipation and tenseness, while long, flowing sentences can make the reader or listener feel relaxed and calm.
Addressee. This refers to the audience of a poem. Is a person to whom the poet aims to speak to. An addressee can be the colonized people, peasants, and refugees, the oppressed or humiliated people.
Repetition. Is the recurrence of sounds, words, phrases, lines, or stanzas in a speech, piece of writing or a poem. Writers use repetition to emphasize an important point, to expand upon an idea, to help create rhymes and rhythm, and to increase the feeling of unity inn a work of art.
Dramatic monologue. Is a form of dramatic poetry in which the speaker (persona, poet) describes a crucial moment in his pr her life to a silent listener and in the process reveals much about his or her own character. The speaker may be a fictional or historical figure and is clearly distinct from the poet. Often the speaker will reveal the listener’s identity, and the dramatic situation in which the monologue is spoken. Song of Lawino and Ocol is a good example of dramatic monologue.
Parallelism. It involves the use of a series of words, phrases, or sentences that have similar grammatical structures or that state a similar idea. Parallelism shows the relationship between ideas and helps emphasize thoughts. Also parallelism or parallel structure helps make line rhythmic and memorable and heightens their emotional effect.
Enjambment. Is the continuation of a sentence from one line of a poem to another. Poets often use enjambments to emphasize rhyming words. Enjambment also enables poets to create a conversational tone, breaking lines at points, where people would normally pause in conversation, yet still maintaining the unity of thoughts.
Melody. This involves the poet’s use of devices that appeal to sounds in poetry.
Rhyme. Is the repetition of accented vowel sounds and all sounds following them in words that are close together in a poem. Is the repetition of identical sounds at the end of consecutive lines at similar intervals in stanza. For example Today is May,
We are on the way,
Trees will sway,
This way and that way.
The stanza above has each line ends with ‘-ay’ to give the sound /ei/.
Rhyme scheme. Is the pattern of rhymed lines/verses. The rhyme scheme is designated by the assignment of different letter of the alphabet to each new rhyme. See the example below;
behold dear friend.a
salvation is coming.b
the earth has come to end.a
Jesus is coming.b.
In the above stanza, the rhyme scheme is ‘ab ab’, but the previous stanza has a rhyme scheme of ‘aa aa’.
Imagery. Is the use of language in such a way that it stimulates certain feelings that appeal to any of the five human senses; that is, senses of touch, taste, smell, sight, and hearing. Poetry is rich in imagery than any other literary genres. Imagery (images) towards the reader is evoked by the poet’s use of several devices like; Simile-conveys a direct tone and meaning (His house was like a prison); Metaphor-conveys an evocative tone (His house was a prison); personification-creates a vivid tone, giving human qualities to inanimate objects conveys a warm tone ( His house kissed his body everyday); Hyperbole-creates a humorous tone (His house was a continent of hell); and irony-creates a caustic tone, and this often produces sarcasm or light-hearted humour (His leaking house was a good inhabitant of the loose VIPs).
Alliteration. Is the repetition of the same or similar consonant sounds in words that are close together. Although alliteration most often consists of sounds that begin with words, it may also consists of sounds that occur within words. This use of the same consonant sounds at the beginning of each consecutive words in a line happens as follows: feel free friend Fredy. Like rhymes, alliteration adds music to a poem hence, good to listen to.
Consonance. Is the repetition of consonant sounds, typically within or at the end of non-rhyming words, as in this succession of echoing ‘d’ sounds in William Butler Yeats’ “The Second Coming”: ‘The blood-dimmed tide is loosed…’ Or The boy blocked the ball by his boot.
Assonance. Is the repetition of similar vowel sounds followed by different consonant sounds in words that are close together. Is also the repetition of the same or similar vowel sounds in stressed syllbles that end with different consonant sounds. For example, “And so all the night-tide, I lie down by the side”. Like alliteration and consonance, assonance adds musicality and rhythmical effects in the poem.
Onomatopoeia. Is the use of a word whose sound imitates or suggests its meaning. There are so many words of this kind, ones of them are; buzz, splash, hiss, bark, bang, and so forth. In poetry, onomatopoeic words reinforce the meaning and create evocative and musical sound effects in the poem.
Rhythm. Is the musical quality in language produced by repetition. Rhythm occurs naturally in all forms of spoken and written language. Poems written in meter create rhythm by a strict pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables. Writers also can create rhythm by repeating the grammatical structures, by using pauses, by varying line length, and by balancing long and short words or phrases.
Scansion. Is the analysis of the meter of a line of verse. To scan a line of poetry means to note the stressed and unstressed syllables and to divide the line into its feet, or rhythmical units.
Note: The terms marked with star (*) are not mostly applied under this course.
Poetry is mostly said to be the beginning of analysis of literary works and also the starting point of most creative works in the subject of literature.

Comparison essay. The students can be guided to write an essay in which they can compare two genres. The question can be asked; ‘What are the similarities and differences of novel and play’ or ‘Discuss features that distinguish play from novel’.

6: CONNECTION: Beyond the Sub Topic. Being one of the oldest forms of literature, drama has long served as the art that works as reflective of social realities.This sub topic gives a room for student to explore different features of different genres. These features help them to understand better the genres of literature. They also give students a time to think broadly about the particular genres.

7: NOTE: Understanding literature is the only way for the students to be able to analyse literary works. By learning these different features of literary genres, students are being prepared to be better readers who can independently read and analyse various literary texts. Forms of Novel/Prose and types of novel are crucial aspects for students to know before starting analyzing the novels for the course.
Check out how to Study & Teach other Form Three Sub Topics in this Blog!

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  1. Abrahams, M.H (1971) A Glossary of Literary Terms, Holt, Rinehart and Winston Inc. New York.
  2. Daniel, K et al (ed.) (2003) Elements of Literature: Fourth Course with Readings in World Literature; Florida Edition, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Austin.
  3. Daniel, K et al (ed.) (2003) Elements of Literature: Sixth Course; Literature of Britain with World Classics; Florida Edition, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Austin.
  4. Kinsella, K et al (2003) Prentice Hall Literature: Timeless Voices, Timeless Themes; Copper Level, Pearson, Upper Saddle River.

Emmanuel Kachele

Emmanuel Kachele is a founder and Blogger of KACHELE ONLINE Blog, an educational blog where 'O' Level English - 'OLE', 'A' Level English (ALE) and other related teaching and life skills are shared extensively. This is an online center for all Tanzanian Secondary School English Language students and teachers (Forms I-VI) and all interested English Language learners and teachers worldwide.

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