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Poetic Device: Antithesis

Antithesis means a direct contrast or exact opposition to something. Hell is the antithesis of Heaven; disorder is the antithesis of order. It is the juxtaposition of contrasting ideas, usually in a balanced way.

In rhetoric, it is a figure of speech involving the bringing out of a contrast in the ideas by an obvious contrast in the words, clauses, or sentences, within a parallel grammatical structure, as in the following:

"When there is need of silence, you speak, and when there is need of speech, you are dumb; when present, you wish to be absent, and when absent, you desire to be present; in peace you are for war, and in war you long for peace; in council you descant on bravery, and in the battle you tremble."

The familiar phrase "Man proposes, God disposes" is an example of antithesis, as is John Dryden's description in "The Hind and the Panther": "Too black for heaven, and yet too white for hell."

Antithesis is sometimes double or alternate, as in the appeal of Augustus:--"Listen, young men, to an old man to whom old men were glad to listen when he was young."

In grammatical usage, antithesis is often expressed by means of an antonym, such as high - low, to shout - to whisper, lightness - heaviness; but the force of the antithesis is increased if the words on which the beat of the contrast falls are alliterative, or otherwise similar in sound, as--"The fairest but the falsest of her sex."

Among English writers who have made the most abundant use of antithesis are Pope, Young, Johnson, and Gibbon; and especially Lyly in his Euphues. It is, however, a much more common feature in French than in English; while in German, with some striking exceptions, it is conspicuous by its absence.

A simplistic description of dialectics is thesis, antithesis, synthesis.

The Antithesis of the Law is the name given by New Testament scholars to a section of the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5:17-48, in which Jesus is reported as taking six well known prescriptions of the Jewish Law, and calling on his followers to do more than the law requires. The best known is perhaps his teaching on retaliation in Matthew 5:38, "Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: 39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. " (KJB). The antithesis arises from the turn of phrase, repeated with minor variations in each of the six sayings, "Ye have heard that it hath been said... But I say unto you...".

Antithesis was the name given by Marcion to a document in which he contrasted the Old Testament with the New Testament.

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Poetry Form Teachings: The Etheree

The poetry form, Etheree, consists of 10 lines of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 syllables. Etheree can also be reversed and written 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Get creative and write an Etheree with more than one verse, but follow suit with an inverted syllable count.

Reversed Etheree: 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1

Double Etheree: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 10, 9, 8, 7, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1

...Triple Etheree, Quadruple Etheree, and so on!


Your Wild Awakening

of woods;
on hands I stroke
speak of hard-spent days.
I trace a stubbled chin
and hear my name unspoken
in a warm unwavering gaze.
Pressing kisses taste of surging need.
I revel in your wild awakening.

Copyright © 2003 Andrea Dietrich
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Slyvia Plath: Joy & Tragedy

Plath was born during the Great Depression on October 27, 1932 at the Massachusetts Memorial Hospital in Boston's Jamaica Plain neighborhood.[3] Her mother, Aurelia Schober Plath, was a first-generation American of Austrian descent, and her father Otto Emile Plath was from Grabow, Germany.[4] Plath's father was a professor of biology and German at Boston University, author of a book about bumblebees.[5] Plath's mother was approximately twenty-one years younger than her husband.[5] They met while she was earning her master's degree in teaching and took one of his courses. Otto had become alienated from his family in his choosing not to become a Lutheran minister, as his grandparents had intended him to be.[6]
(from Wikipedai) 

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Poetry Aloud

Listen To Your Poem

In Ancient Greece, the most important form of entertainment was provided by the bards. Bards, or poets, traveled from place to place reciting poetry, often accompanied by a cithara or lyre. As time passed, poetry took on a written form and orators fell by the wayside.

This took hundreds of years to happen, but happen it did. Soon books of poetry flourished and the educated could read at their leisure. However, poetry was still written to be read aloud and still is today.

Most poets choose their words, punctuation and spacing of their poetry for very specific reasons. Besides their meaning, the sounds of the words play an important roll in the poem. If the poem requires a faster pace, then shorter words with sharper sounds can be used. If the poem is meant to be softer, then longer words with more delicate sounds are used to portray the feeling of the poem.

Punctuation and word spacing also aid in the recital of the poem. For example, a dash requires a longer pause than a comma and no punctuation at the end of a line indicates a very short pause or sometimes none at all. Some poets, such as e.e. cummings used a variety of spacing techniques to slow or quicken the pace of poems.

"In Just-" by e.e. cummings isn't a poem meant to be read silently. Of course, the first time you read any poem, you often do read it silently, to get a feel for it. Your next step, though, should be to read it aloud. Follow the punctuation, white spaces, and indentations as you read. Use a natural, conversational voice and don't rush.

You will notice in this poem that you can almost hear the long whistles of the balloonman in the beginning because of the white spaces in between far and wee. Then you quicken the pace as the children come running from their games since the names are mashed together. In the end the last far and wee is also at a quickened pace due to the lack of white space. This poem wouldn't be near as interesting or effective if it were written in basic stanzas with even spacing.

So remember, as you write a poem, you are writing something that is intended to be read aloud. Use all of the tools available to you to make your poem sound the way you, as the writer, have it in mind to sound. And, don't be afraid to experiment!

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