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Patterns in poetry

Watch Luke Pearce demonstrate how this poem paints a vivid picture through making and breaking grammatical patterns.

In this example, we started by responding to the poem as readers, and discussed what it means to us.

Then, we looked again at the poem to account for those meanings by looking for patterns.

Unsurprisingly, there is no single correct or exhaustive interpretation of any text. For your guidance, here are some patterns you may have noticed when analysing this poem:

•The first three verses follow a pattern. The first line of each starts with a command (imperative) ‘Teach me…’ The narrator wants to learn to be more like a cat.

•The last verse breaks this pattern with a negated command: ‘Don’t teach me Dog’. This shows how the author’s attitude changes when considering dogs.

•The first three verses use many noun-phrases: ‘the slow-motion blink’, ‘dents in cushions’. We do not get a full picture of the cat, but we catch glimpses and see signs of its presence.

•The last verse uses more verbs: ‘slobbers’ ‘yaps’ ‘begs’ ‘sits’. This presents the dog as more excitable and active.

In the interpretations above, we are connecting our response to the poem to linguistic patterns that account for those responses. We only make reference to linguistic and grammatical terminology in reference to responses and meanings.

Did you make the same connections? Did you spot anything different?

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Teaching English Grammar in Context

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