Sooner or Later

poem by Beverly McLoughland , illustrated by Tohby Riddle

Learning Intention:

I am learning to analyse the literary devices used in poems so that I can understand the impact of those devices and create my own example of a metaphor or personification.


Success Criteria:

  • I can discuss features of different text types.
  • I can identify examples of different structural features and literary devices in a poem.
  • I can discuss and explain the impact of figurative language in a text.
  • I can create a metaphor or example of personification.

Essential knowledge:

For more information about teaching figurative language, take a look at the Reading - Literary Devices resource on the NSW Department of Education website.


Oral language:

Engage students in a whole class conversation answering the following hypothetical questions:

  • If a poem was a person, what would they be like? (Personality, appearance, general vibe)
  • If a non-fiction text was a person, what would they be like? (personality, appearance, general vibe)
  • If a narrative was a person, what would they be like? (personality, appearance, general vibe)
  • Why do you think you described different characteristics of people for these different text types?
  • Did students provide similar or different responses? Why or why not?


Understanding text:

Read the poem, ‘Sooner or Later’ out loud or listen to the audio recording if you have a digital subscription. Do not give the students the physical copy of the poem to look at yet.


If you have a digital subscription, complete the interactive immediately after their first reading, before students access a copy of the poem.


For the second reading of the poem, give students access to a copy of the poem so that they can read along. After the second reading of the poem, ask students to complete a think, pair share answering the following question:

  • When looking at the written version of the poem ‘Sooner or Later,’ what surprised you about the format of the poem on the page? Why?

(Suggested answers might include the way that the lines are divided on the page – it is long and skinny, the rhyming words aren’t as obvious to the eye as they are to the ear. The image of the ‘poems’ through the door might have surprised some students as they might have been expecting people.)


Look at Stanza 1 from each of the other 2 poems in this issue of Blast Off. My shoes, page 20 and Wind, page 32)

My Shoes

When the way ahead is strewn with stones

That shake my joints and rattle my bones,

When the pitiless sun beats the soft dry dirt,

And heats till it is bound to hurt.

When dark grey clouds through the heavens scud,

And rain turns all the earth to mud,

With the risk so high of a burn or bruise,

I’m terribly grateful to wear my shoes.



I often find I wonder

how a thing like wind could be.

I cannot even see it,

yet its strength can move a tree!


In pairs or threes, ask students to read the first stanzas of the three poems out loud, one after the other. Instruct students to record what they notice about rhyme and rhythm, in particular noting common features and differences between the poems and how they sound and how they look on the page. (Answers could include observations around the length of each stanza, the noticeable rhythm as each is read aloud, the rhyming patterns – My shoes is written in rhyming couplets, Wind is written in an ABCB rhyming pattern, Sooner or Later has some very short line lengths)


Ask the pairs/small groups to complete the following:

  • In the poem Sooner or Later, circle where there are words that appear by themselves on a line (but, shut)
  • Discuss why they might appear on a line by themselves (These two words emphasise the challenge or complication faced by the speaker in the poem who wants to write a poem. ‘But’ and ‘shut’ both have connotations of blocking or being stopped from doing something)
  • Find an example of a metaphor in the poem (The poetry door in my mind was shut)
  • Discuss the meaning of the metaphor (The speaker in the poem has writers block. They are trying to write a poem but feel like something is stopping them)
  • Find an example of personification in the poem (Three poems and all ignoring me)
  • Why do you think the poet has decided to describe the poems like ‘smug, silent’ people? (The poems are given human characteristics as though they are deliberately not letting the speaker in the poem write them.)


Creating text:

In the same groups as before, have students create their own metaphor or example of personification to describe a type of text. They might choose one of the following, or have their own idea:

  • Short story
  • Novel or chapter book
  • Picture book
  • Drama script
  • Poem
  • Magazine article
  • History book
  • Catalogue from a department store or supermarket.


Groups can either compose a metaphor or an example of personification to describe the text type they have selected, with the aim of demonstrating some of the characteristics of the text. Remind students of the initial conversation about what kind of person each text type might be and why.


Assessment for/as learning:

Display the completed metaphors and personifications around the classroom. Complete a gallery walk in which students read each of the examples created by their peers. They are to choose one that the think best represents the text type it is describing. Ask students to complete the sentences in their books:

  • The metaphor/personification I have selected is…
  • This metaphor/personification describes the text type…
  • It is an effective way of describing the text type because…

Complete an exit ticket in which students answer the following question:

  • Why are metaphors and/or personification useful literary devices for describing objects, people, places and texts?