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Lesson Plan

Poetry and Allusions, Symbols, and Apostrophe

Lesson Objective

  • For students to be able to incorporate a symbol, an allusion and an apostrophe in their own poem.
  • For students to be able to define and identify literary symbols, allusions, and apostrophes in a poem.
  • For students to be able to write about how their use of symbolism, allusion and apostrophe contributes to the creation of meaning in a poem of their own making.

Definitions

  • Apostrophe: Addressing someone or something dead / absent as if the person or thing were present and could reply. Addressing a personified object as a living person.
  • Symbol: Something that is itself and also stands for something else; as the flag is a piece of colored cloth that stands for a country. A literary symbol is an image that evokes an objective, concrete reality and prompts that reality to suggest another level of meaning accessible to the reader.
  • Allusion: A figure of speech that makes a brief reference to a historical or literary figure, event, or object. It seeks, by tapping the knowledge and memory of the reader, to secure a resonant emotional effect from the emotions already existing in the reader's mind.

Lesson

Let's examine this poem for apostrophe, symbol, and allusion:

The Sick Rose

O rose, thou art sick!
The invisible worm
That flies in the night,
In the howling storm,

Has found out thy bed
Of crimson joy,
And his dark secret love
Does thy life destroy.

-William Blake (1757-1827)

In the first line, the "rose" is an example of personification, apostrophe, and symbolism.

  • Rose is personified by possessing the human characteristic of being "sick." Is this woman / rose being tainted by a corrupting influence / worm?
  • Rose is apostrophized for it is addressed as if it were present and could respond.
  • Rose is a symbol for it is an image that represents a literal rose but also prompts other meanings: love, feminine beauty, female sex, innocence.

"Invisible worm" is an example of metonymy, symbolism, and allusion.

  • "Invisible worm" is metonymic of death because a worm devouring a corpse is a small detail of death that is substituted for death as a whole.
  • "Invisible worm" is also has a connotation of lovemaking, which furthers the connection between the corrupted rose and the loss of virginity.
  • "Invisible worm" is also a literary allusion for it refers to John Milton's "undying worm" (the serpent/ Satan who tempts and corrupts Eve) in the Garden of Eden in his epic poem "Paradise Lost".

Connotations

"Flies in the night"

  • connotes a secretive, deceitful mission concealed from the exposure of daylight: devouring of a corpse at night
  • also connotes the act of lovemaking which is reinforced by the "howling storm" of passion between two lovers in a carnal embrace
  • the wind and rain of a "howling storm" usually deflower a flower... How do we refer to women who have lost their virginity?

Denotation: "Bed," a flowerbed in which the rose blooms; connotation: a human bed.

Connotations of "Crimson joy":

  • blooming of the rose
  • orgasm from lovemaking
  • oxymoron: pleasure in pain--crimson connotes bleeding and pain from the loss of virginity and the joy connotes the sexual pleasure that is associated with this first lovemaking experience

More Connotations

  • "dark secret love" denotation: love of the worm for the feasting on the corpse
  • "dark secret love" connotation: love of the man for the woman in this secret affair
  • "Thy life destroy" denotation: is storm or worm's deflowering of the rose's blossom
  • "Thy life destroy" connotation: is the woman's loss of virginity
  • also an allusion to the fall of Eve in the Garden of Eden that brought death to mankind

Identification and Explication of Allusion, Apostrophe, Symbol, Metonymy, and Connotations

Directions: Answer the following questions below. Always connect your explication of a poetic device to the overall meaning(s) of the poem.

The Sick Rose

O rose, thou art sick!
The invisible worm
That flies in the night,
In the howling storm,

Has found out thy bed
Of crimson joy,
And his dark secret love
Does thy life destroy.

–William Blake (1757-1827)

  1. Define apostrophe, symbol, and allusion.
  2. Explain how "rose" is an example of apostrophe, personification, and symbolism.
  3. Explain how "invisible worm" is an example of metonymy, allusion, and connotation.
  4. Explain the two connotations of "bed" and how they develop the literal and figurative meanings of this poem.
  5. Explain the two connotations of "crimson joy" and how they develop the literal and figurative meanings of this poem.

Student Assignment 1

List all of the symbols, allusions, apostrophes, metonymies, and connotations and explain their influence upon your interpretation of "The Sick Rose."

Student Assignment 2

Using the Freestyle mode on PicLits.com, write a poem that has at least one allusion, apostrophe, and symbol.

Write a brief paragraph on how the influence of the allusion, apostrophe, and symbol assist the creation of your poem’s meaning.

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