Materials for video #2 in the Lyrical Prose 101 YouTube series. Click here for video #1: What Is Lyrical Prose?
Lyrical Language in Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
Read these passages out loud to hear the full effect of the poetic techniques and diction used.
Click the image to enlarge and zoom for reading.
- RED = Figurative language and imagery. Every simile, metaphor, and image is true to the MC’s voice. We know she is a country girl, and this is held up by the use of such phrases as “a caboodle of houses roosting” and “like a filly trailing behind a mare.”
- FUCHSIA = Diction. The author’s choice of specific words and expressions also supports the setting and tone, and helps define the MC and other characters. On page 4, Gramps uses the phrase “a hill of beans,” a phrase that in regular writing would be avoided because it’s a cliché. But it’s perfect as dialogue for Gramps, because it’s authentic to what a real grandfather — or any of us, really — would say in everyday speech.
- PURPLE = Repetition. Creech uses a lot of repetition and parallel structure (as in the list of reasons on page 5) to add emphasis and create a certain rhythm and musicality. This technique also gives us more insight into the character and what is important to her, and sets up the “style” of this character’s voice. From the first few pages, we know what to expect in terms of how this character expresses herself. Repetition also adds to the humor.
- GREEN = Sound devices. Creech uses some alliteration and assonance throughout, but here she goes for onomatopoeia to give voice to the wind and the darkness. She could have easily written this sentence plainly, without the use of poetic technique. Why might she have chosen to write it this way?
- BLUE = Hyperbole (exaggeration), which is a form of figurative language. Along with repetition, hyperbole can heighten the humor and give insight into how the MC feels. It is also an authentic choice for the MC, since children are given to exaggeration and drama.
- Although Creech uses many poetic techniques in her writing, it is not overdone, nor does it call attention to itself. She has found the perfect balance between lyrical language and story, and one does not detract from the other.
- It would be very easy to point out the beauty of every line in this passage, for there are many more riches to mine here than what I’ve listed. I again encourage you to read it out loud to hear the rhythm and feel the flow of the words. There is not one stumbling block or clumsy phrase.
I couldn’t resist including this example from a classic and a favorite of the high school English classroom. Read it out loud and just listen to the music in these words! “The silver pepper of the stars” — GAH!
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
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Other text copyright © 2020 Renée M. LaTulippe. All rights reserved.