By: Rachel Lyle, August 4th, 2017
Here is the final paper that I wrote for my poetry class:
Poetry is often used as an escape for people to get away from their real lives for a while to relieve the stresses and struggles of daily so that they can have a time to relax and rejuvenate and be ready for a new day with new problems and new stresses to handle. Poetry helps to escape to another world in order to be able to face real life more readily, except in the case of children’s poetry. Since young children often can’t read, children’s poetry is based heavily on sound and sound effects which helps them to create their own world through their imagination, and thus one of the main uses of children’s poetry is an escape through the use of sound.
Because young children often cannot read they learn through the use of sounds and memorization and escape into the only world they can, their imagination, by way of their ears and what they hear in the world around them and so children’s poetry uses many many literary devices such as repetition, anaphora, assonance, consonance, alliteration, rhyme, and onomatopoeias to create a form of escape for young children. Children’s poetry also makes use of words that are made up and don’t actually exist in our language or the names of silly made up creatures to produces sounds for children to create their own imaginative escape.
The meaning of words for children of ten comes into play when you think about the escape that is produced in children’s poetry. A 5 year old would not know the meaning of the word accoutrements and so if they were to hear this word said out loud then they would most likely try to imagine what it means by what it sound like through an escape into their imagination based on the word’s sound. Children find words that they understand that sound similar and so they associate the new word’s meaning with other words and thus create a meaning based on that. This idea shows up many Dr. Seuss poems including There’s Wocket in My Pocket,
The only one
I’m really scared of
is that VUG
under the RUG.
And that QUIMNEY
up the CHIMNEY…
I don’t like him.
Not at all.
And it makes me sort of nervous
when the ZALL scoots down the HALL. (16-19)
In this way since words in this poem that were made up such as Vug, Quimney, and Zall sound like rug, chimney and hall, then a child assumes that they must be similar in meaning. In the mind of a five year old accoutrements and a Quimney are parallel to each other because they are both words the child doesn’t understand and therefore they are added to the child’s escape into imagination based on their sounds. Even without being told what the creatures like a Vug, a Quimney, and a Zall look like, just being given the name which sounds like a monster or a silly creature that a child create in the escape that they make to their imagination. Through the sounds in these words children imagine that the Vug must live under a rug because they sound alike, a Quimney must live in a chimney because where else could they live, and a Zall must live in a hall because it’s speedy and needs room to run.
Shel Silverstein even uses one of his short children’s poems to comment on the fact that just because a word is big doesn’t mean that a child doesn’t assume it doesn’t have a meaning. This poem being called “Zrbangdraldnk” goes like this,
The Zrbangdraldnk has just arrived
And it’s up to me to announce him. . . .
Uh. . . how do you pronounce him. . . ?
He seems to be saying that in a child’s mind Zrbangdraldnk is a word just as much as the word accoutrements. An adult might say it’s not a word or not understand how to pronounce it but to a child it is a real word and extremely easy to pronounce.
Based on the fact that child makes word associations based on what something sounds like and uses that as a way to make the meaning of a word, children’s poetry often rhymes. Rhymes are often also useful to young children because young children often like to repeat things and with rhyme they can repeat the same sounds but not necessarily the same exact word over and over. Hop on Pop by Dr. Seuss makes use of this idea,
We like to hop. We like to hop
on top of Pop. (40)
The use of Hop and Pop together in this rhyme can allow the child to associate hop with Pop and because of the similarity in sound they will assume that Hop and Pop have something to do with each other and imagine them up to have similar meanings. One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss also makes use of this,
we know a man
called Mr. Gump.
Mr. Gump has a seven hump Wump.
So . . .
if you like to go Bump! Bump!
just jump on the hump of the Wump of Gump. (19)
In a similar way the assonance of the internal rhyme in jump, bump, hump, Wump, and Gump causes repetition and thus an escape to imagination of the similar meanings of these words and an escape to imagine what a Wump or Mr. Gump looks based upon the fact they sound similar or even what a bump looks like based on its similarity in sound to these words as well.
The same way assonance and internal rhyme is used for children’s poetry for the sound it creates, consonance is used to create a sound which children use to find more words that rhyme or sound similar and so can escape to their imagination to find new words to add to the consonance of the poetry. One instance of this that comes to mind specifically for me is throughout the book Fox in Socks by Dr. Seuss,
Chicks with bricks come. Chicks with blocks come.
Chicks with bricks and blocks and clocks come. Look, sir. Look, sir.
Mr. Knox, sir.
Let’s do tricks with
bricks and blocks, sir.
Let’s do tricks with
chicks and clocks, sir. (8-9)
The repetition and consonance of the C-K-S sound causes children to use their imagination to find more words that have a C-K-S ending that rhyme with clocks, blocks, chicks, and bricks whether the words they come up with are real or not, which shows the form the escape takes, the use of imagination to create more words.
The aforementioned repetition as well as anaphora in children’s poetry can help a child create an imaginary world to escape to through the way it helps the them to memorize and helps to produce memorization skills which can be used for them to remember the world they created and went to every other time they heard the poem. By remembering the world they already created they can escape back to it and thus create new parts of this world and add to it making this world even bigger and is in their eyes better and more fun so that they want to escape in this way to this imaginative world. This is seen in the way Dr. Seuss writes Green Eggs and Ham,
I would not like them Here or there.
I would not like them
I do not like
green eggs and ham.
I do not like them
His use of anaphora, with the repetition of I would not like them and I do not like, producesan affect of wanting to hear the poem again and again, thus there is a want to memorize it and a constant recreation and addition of a child’s imaginative world through it. The repetition of this entire stanza through out the whole book even adds to this through hearing this over and over it creates a constant want to return to the world of imagination in the child.
Alliteration is also often used in children’s poetry to create sounds which children can use to escape into their imaginations. This is also something that is used in Fox in Socks,
When beetles battles beetles in a puddle paddle battle and the beetle battle puddle is a puddle in a bottle . . .
. . . they call this
a tweet beetle
paddle battle muddle. (52-53)
The use of the repeated B and P sounds at the beginning of the words allows children to escape to their imagination to find more words that are already in existence as well as make to new words that begin with the letters B and P and allows them to imagine meanings to these words that are similar based on them beginning with the same letter. Another use that this passage has for creating an escape through sound is the fact that the words in this passage are all put an order that is complete nonsense and does not actually mean anything this allows children to escape into their imagination to create new words.
One of my favorite poems that encompasses most of the literary devices and has examples throughout its text is “The Jabberwocky” by Lewis Carroll,
’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogroves,
and the mome wraths outgrabe.
Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The Jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumoius Bandersnatch!
There is alliteration in the words that begin with B, C, G, J, and M as well as Assonance and internal rhyme in the words jaws and claws. There is anaphora and repetition by way of the repeating of the word beware and the first stanza being repeated as the last stanza. Many of the words in this poem are also not real words and they come from the imagination of the author, which encourages the idea of children using the imagination as an escape to find new words and make new words and sounds.
Thus children’s poetry is full of literary devices such as rhyme, anaphora, repetition, assonance, consonance, and alliteration. This show that even though many young children can’t read, children’s poetry, based on sound and sound effects, helps children create their own world through their imagination, and it proves that one of the main purposes of children’s poetry is an escape through the use of sound.