Examining the differences between prose and poetry
Prose vs Poetry
by Vivian Gilbert Zabel
Goal: This exercise helps writers to understand the difference between prose and poetry.
NOTES: Prose and poetry writing have different characteristics and approaches.
1. Prose has sentences arranged in paragraphs. The information presented is more pragmatic, many times, than in poetry. Sentences in paragraphs of prose follow each other, one after the other. The first word of each sentence is capitalized. Punctuation for both prose and poetry is the same. The first line of each paragraph is indented. The language of prose is straight forward, with less figurative language than poetry.
2. Poetry has a different form than prose. The appearance of poetry on the page or computer screen is different, unique. Where prose has paragraphs, poetry has stanzas. Where prose has sentences in a paragraph coming one after another, poetry divides into shorter lines, with a phrase or group of words that join together on each line. In traditional poetry, the first word of each line is capitalized. Some modern versions of poetry have only the first word of each sentence capitalized as in prose. Indenting of lines depends on where the writer desires to have indenting. Poetry is created with figurative language such as poetic devices.
1. Read prose version from handout. Read poetry version.
2. Compare both versions: similarities, differences.
Write at least one paragraph of prose. Then write a poem about the same subject, incorporating the same ideas.
1. Include at least four poetry devices in the poem.
2. Have the poem be at least six lines in length.
Example of Prose and Poetry Versions
A woman stands on a mountain top with the cold seeping into her body. She looks on the valley below as the wind whips around her. She cannot leave to go to the peaceful beauty below.
In the valley, the sun shines from behind the clouds causing flowers to bloom. A breeze sends quivers through the leaves of trees. The water gurgles in a brook. All the woman can do is cry.
The Woman on the Peak
The woman stands upon the barren peak,
Gazing down on the world beneath.
The lonely chill seeps from the ground
Into her feet, spreading, upward bound.
The angry wind whistles ‘round her head,
Whipping her hair into streaming snakes,
While she watches, wishes, weakly wails.
Beyond the mountain, sunshine peeks,
Teasing flowers to survive and thrive.
The breeze whispers through the leaves,
Causing gentle quivers to sway the trees.
Laughter gurgles as the splashing brook
Playfully tumbles over rugged rocks,
While the woman above can only grieve.