Poetry contains the best and most sublime emotions of the human mind. It is also the most effective means for the purgation of evil emotions. Good poetry is a thing of beauty, thought and form. It appeals to the heart straight, more than any form in general. Procedure for teaching poetry is quite different from that of prose. The methodology of teaching poetry should be given giving utmost priority to enjoyment.

A good teacher of poetry should know the aim of her teaching poetry. She must be able to transmigrate into the poet. She must have the mastery of language, a poetic sense and temperament, and good content knowledge to bring out the soul of the poem. She must help her students not only to be aware of the theme of the poem but also to imagine and appreciate the mood of it.

For creating a proper atmosphere simple rhythmic verses can be used by the teacher. Discussions about the general theme of the poem, the poet, the grounds of writing such a poem, all can motivate the learners. Audiovisual aids and activities supporting the atmosphere can add interest in the learner.

A good, loud, appealing voice is a gift to a teacher. While reciting the poem, a teacher must keep in mind that a poem is a voice addressing the listener personally. It is the absolute way of expressing poetry and bringing alive the poet’s feelings. During recitation, her pronunciation, word- stress, pause, intonation, tone variation, body movements, facial expression and gestures, everything must create a suitable atmosphere and feeling in the learner.

While the learners read the poem aloud, it’s better to perform in groups in the beginning. Solo performance must be encouraged when they become familiar with words and the rhythm of the poem. The teacher must check the articulation, stress rhythm, intonation while reading. During silent reading by the learner, the teacher should advise them to read with comprehension and appreciation and point out the difficult words. Word study in detail must be avoided as far as possible.

A general comprehension of the theme of the poem enables the pupil to enjoy it. During the detailed study, the questions which help the student to understand and appreciate the central idea of the poem need to be asked. The figures of speech, rhyme, metre, symbols, title and every other aspect of a poem must be dealt with, as they give colour and life to the poem and enable proper appreciation.

Poetry has to be felt with the heart. It develops in pupils a favourable attitude towards language learning. The rhythm and words appeal to our mind and without any conscious effort, we internalize the lines of the poem. Learning a poem, memorizing and contemplating upon it gives pleasure. Poetry helps one to improve his pronunciation and master the stress-timed rhythmic nature of the English language.

Lesson Plan

Paper Boats by Rabindranath Tagore

Day by day I float my paper boats one by one down the running
In big black letters I write my name on them and the name of
the village where I live.
I hope that someone in some strange land will find them and
know who I am.
I load my little boats with shiuli flower from our garden, and
hope that these blooms of the dawn will be carried safely to land
in the night.
I launch my paper boats and look up into the sky and see the
little clouds setting thee white bulging sails.
I know not what playmate of mine in the sky sends them down
the air to race with my boats!
When night comes I bury my face in my arms and dream that my
paper boats float on and on under the midnight stars.
The fairies of sleep are sailing in them, and the lading ins
their baskets full of dreams.

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Devika Panikar has been teaching English Language and Literature since 2006. She is an Assistant Professor with the Directorate of Collegiate Education under the Government of Kerala. She teaches at the Government Colleges coming under this directorate and is now posted at the Department of English, Government College for Women, Thiruvananthapuram. This website is a collection of the lecture notes that she prepared by referring to various sources, for her students’ perusal. It has been compiled here for the sake of future generations.