Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Tuesday Teatime Poetry

A Christmas Carol, by G.K.Chesterton

The Christ-child lay on Mary's lap,
His hair was like a light.
(O weary, weary were the world,
But here is all aright.)

The Christ-child lay on Mary's breast,
His hair was like a star.
(O stern and cunning are the kings,
But here the true hearts are.)

The Christ-child lay on Mary's heart,
His hair was like a fire.
(O weary, weary is the world,
But here the world's desire.)

The Christ-child stood at Mary's knee,
His hair was like a crown.
And all the flowers looked up at Him,
And all the stars looked down.

As a “carol,” this poem like last week’s has nice stanzas and repetition, but that isn’t what we discussed today. We discussed similes and metaphors. In A Christmas Carol, by G.K.Chesterton the second line of each stanza is a simile. These lines compare Christ’s hair to something else.

A simile is a figure of speech in which two unlike things are explicitly compared and usually connected by the words like, as, or seems.

"Life is like an onion: You peel it off one layer at a time, and sometimes you weep."
Carl Sandburg

In a metaphor two things are implicitly compared by using a word or phrase that typically denotes one thing to denote another in order to show that these two things have something important in common. Unlike similes that use the words as, like, or seems to make a comparison, metaphors state that something is something else.

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
William Shakespeare, As You Like It

This contains two metaphors. The world is said to be a theater stage and people are said to be actors.

Here are some similes and metaphors from my children and me.

First, use these simple formulas almost like madlibs and you can have fun making some similes of your own.

(verb) + like + (noun)
Christian, verb- munched
Duncan, animal- vulture

He munched like a vulture.

as + (adjective) + as + (noun)
Grayson, adjective- stinky
Christian, noun- road kill

He is as stinky as road kill.

as + (adjective) + as + (noun)
temperament donated by Mom
Christian, adjective- volatile
Grayson, noun- dynamite

His temperament is as volatile as dynamite.

Now rewrite the similes as metaphors by eliminating like and as. This can be fun and yield some really good descriptive metaphors. Here is how my big guys changed our similes to metaphors.

During dinner, the hungry teenager was a vulture scavenging off other people’s plates.

He smells awful: his cologne is road kill!

His volatile temperament is dynamite waiting to be lit.

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