Writing poetry

Learning focus

To explore rhyme and rhythm in poetry and create a poem of your own.

This lesson includes:

  • one video explaining how to write a poem

  • three activities

Learn

There are lots of different types of poetry, but they often contain similar ingredients.

Watch this short clip to learn about what to include when you write a poem.

Find out about the key ingredients to include in a poem.

All poems are made up of words. Poems can tell a story or be about a thought or a feeling. They can be serious or silly, but they always have to use words.

Poems often have a rhythm, which is like a beat in music. The rhythm is quick or slow depending on the words the poet chooses.

Poems can use rhyme, which means that certain words have similar end sounds.

For example: ‘Break’ and ‘lake’ ; ‘cat’ and ‘mat’ ; ‘loud’ and ‘proud’ .

Poems can also use alliteration, which is when more than one word starts with the same first letter or sound.

For example: The slimy, sneaky snake slithered silently.

Practise

You may need paper and a pen or pencil for some of these activities.

Activity 1

Complete the ‘How to write a poem’ quiz. Can you get all four right?

Activity 2

Read this poem:

My Shadow

By Robert Louis Stevenson

I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me,
And what can be the use of him is more than I can see.
He is very, very like me from the heels up to the head;
And I see him jump before me, when I jump into my bed.

The funniest thing about him is the way he likes to grow-
Not at all like proper children, which is always very slow;
For he sometimes shoots up taller like an India-rubber ball,
And he sometimes gets so little that there’s none of him at all.

He hasn’t got a notion of how children ought to play,
And can only make a fool of me in every sort of way.
He stays so close beside me, he’s a coward you can see;
I’d think shame to stick to nursie as that shadow sticks to me!

One morning, very early, before the sun was up,
I rose and found the shining dew on every buttercup;
But my lazy little shadow, like an arrant sleepy-head,
Had stayed at home behind me and was fast asleep in bed.

  1. What is this poem all about? Can you summarise what is said in each stanza?

  2. Are there any unusual words in this poem? Look up any that you don’t know.

  3. Do you think the rhythm or the poem is slow or fast? Why might this be?

  4. Can you spot a rhyme scheme? Explain the pattern.

  5. Can you spot any alliteration? Copy out an example.

You can check your answers with this answer sheet.

Activity 3

When we want to write a poem, it is always useful to use another poem to inspire us.

Read this short poem:

Who Has Seen the Wind?

By Christina Rossetti

Who has seen the wind?
Neither I nor you.
But when the leaves hang trembling,
The wind is passing through.
Who has seen the wind?
Neither you nor I. But when the trees bow down their heads,
The wind is passing by.

Use this poem to inspire your own short poem about nature. You could write about the wind as well, or the sun, moon, water, trees – use your imagination!

See if you can use alliteration too!

Top tip!

You could base your poem on Rossetti’s by:

  • starting with a question
  • using the same rhyme pattern
  • repeating lines like she does
  • using some of the same lines

Where next?

In this lesson you have explored how to write a poem and created a poem of your own.

There are other useful articles on Bitesize to help you understand and create poetry.

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