Goodnight, Goodnight

poem by Kate Rietema , illustrated by Christopher Nielsen

Learning Intention:

I am learning how to recognise poetic devices so that I can experiment with how I write original poems.

Success Criteria:

  • I can identify a range of poetic devices.
  • I can define the technique of internal rhyme and explain its effect.
  • I can experiment with internal rhyme in my own poetry.

Essential knowledge:

  • More information about how poetry uses an agreed upon system of communication can be found in the English Textual Concepts video Code and Convention.

Before presenting the poem to the class, ask the following question:

What ‘rules’ does a poet need to follow while they are writing poetry?

Write down all of the class suggestions, even if they contradict each other. Allow students to debate on certain topics, such as whether rhyming is an essential component of a poem. Eventually, sort the suggestions into a list of the essential codes and conventions of poetry. These include:

  • It looks like a poem (short lines, rather than continuous sentences)
  • It uses imagery (language techniques such as similes, metaphors, personification)
  • It uses sound devices (language techniques such as rhythm, rhyme, repetition, onomatopoeia, alliteration, sibilance, assonance)
  • It tells a story or unites around a theme.

Explain that some conventions are so common, we often expect that every poem will feature it. An example of this is rhyme.

Read the poem aloud to the class, or alternatively listen to the audio recording on The School Magazine website. After reading the poem, consult the class code and convention list and assess which conventions the poem uses. Students should recognise that it looks like a poem, contains a range of imagery (the grass waves goodbye; shadows like lumps on a long) and uses sound devices (rhythm, rhyme and repetition). Furthermore, it is united by a theme, describing a short moment in a child’s evening routine.

Draw students’ attention more closely to the rhyming structure and ask them to identify the pattern. The second and fourth line of each stanza rhyme. More unusually, the first and third line do not rhyme with each other, but rhyme within the line. This technique is called internal rhyme or middle rhyme. (For more information on this technique, visit the Literary Devices page: Internal Rhyme.)

Read other examples of internal rhyme to the class, such as the poems ‘The Owl and the Pussycat’ by Edward Lear or ‘Galoshes’ by Rhoda W. Bacmeister. Then ask students why they think poets use internal rhyme? Explain that internal rhyme increases the musicality of a poem and makes it very pleasant to listen to.

Challenge students to experiment with internal rhyme in their own poetry. Start with a broad topic such as walking through the jungle. Brainstorm a list of animals people encounter in the jungle and pair the animals with the sounds they make. Then for each example of onomatopoeia, instruct students to find a rhyming word with the assistance of a dictionary such as RhymeZone. For example:

monkey                       shriek              creak

elephant                     snort                thought

lion                              roar                 snore

Finally, students combine these pairs of rhyming words into a poem that uses internal rhyme. For example:

An orchestra surrounded me as I walked through the jungle.

A monkey shrieking on the branches creaking,

An elephant’s loud snort while I was lost in thought,

And a lion’s roar; ‘Don’t eat me!’ I implore.