Year 7 Poetry Tenor, vehicle, ground

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Year 7 Poetry

Tenor, vehicle, ground

Literal language: if something is literal it is accurate or precise. • A literal description tells what actually happens. • Something that is literal reports on events. • An example would be ‘he is lazy’

A metaphor has three parts: The tenor: the thing you want to try and describe to your audience. The vehicle: The imaginative idea you compare it with to help your audience understand it. This is the ‘made up’ bit. The ground: the thing the tenor and the vehicle have in common.

Metaphor: if something is a metaphor it is not literal. • A metaphor does not report on what actually happens. • A metaphor tells us more about something by bringing
ideas together. • An example would be ‘he is a couch potato’

Here is an example: ‘Achilles fought like a lion’ (both Achilles and the lion are strong) Achilles is the tenor because he is the thing being described. The lion is the vehicle because it is the imaginative idea Achilles is compared to. The ground is that they are both strong because this is what they have in common.

The poems and their key metaphors

‘Fog’ – Carl Sandburg, 1878 – 1967 'The fog comes on little cat feet’

Both ‘the fog’ and the ‘little cat feet’ are grey, delicate and move gently.

‘November Night’ – Adelaide Crapsey, 1878 – 1914

Both ‘the leaves’ and ‘the steps of passing ghosts’ rustle softly.

‘like steps of passing ghosts,/ The leaves, frost –crisp’d, break

from the trees and fall’

‘Dreams’ – Langston Hughes, 1902 – 1967

Both a life without dreams and ‘a broken-winged bird/ That

‘… if dreams die/ Life is a broken-winged bird/ That cannot fly’ cannot fly’ are sad and wasteful.

‘Sally’ – Phoebe Hesketh, 1909 – 2005

Both Sally and ‘a dog-rose’ are wild and not traditionally

‘She was a dog-rose kind of girl:/ Elusive, scattery as petals’


‘Frogs’ – Norman MacCaig, 1910 – 1996

Both frogs and ‘parachutists’ leap into the air and spread out

’In mid-leap they are/ parachutists falling/ in a free fall’

when they fall. Both frogs and ballet dancers have powerful

‘… their ballet dancer’s/ legs’

and elegant legs.

‘Pigeons’ – Richard Kell, 1927 –

Both pigeons and ‘busybodies’ walk around looking like they

‘small blue busybodies/ Strutting like fat gentlemen’

think they’re important. Both pigeons and fat gentlemen have

‘their heads like tiny hammers’

big bellies but look quite dignified.

‘The Eagle’ – Alfred, Lord Tennyson, 1809 – 1892 ‘And like a thunderbolt he falls’ ‘The Tyger’ – William Blake, 1757 – 1827 ‘Tyger, tyger burning bright’ ‘A Case of Murder’ – Vernon Scannell, 1922 – 2007 ‘The cat, half-through, was cracked like a nut’ ‘… the wound of fear gaped wide and raw’ ‘… the huge black cat pads out’ (the cat turns from tenor into vehicle for the boy’s fear)

Both the eagle falling and ‘a thunderbolt’ are fast and dangerous. Both the tiger and fire are beautiful and powerful, but also difficult to control. Both the cat being slammed in a door frame and a nut being broken make a cracking sound. Both ‘fear’ and a ‘wound’ can be painful and can get worse. Both fear and a ‘huge black cat’ are haunting and can sneak up on you.

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Year 7 Poetry Tenor, vehicle, ground