Lesson 24


Free verse is just what it says it is - poetry that is written without proper rules about form, rhyme, rhythm, meter, etc. The greatest American writer of free verse is probably Walt Whitman. His great collection of free verse was titled Leaves of Grass and it was published in 1855.

In free verse the writer makes his/her own rules. The writer decides how the poem should look, feel, and sound. Henry David Thoreau, a great philosopher, explained it this way, ". . . perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away." It may take you a while to "hear your own drummer," but free verse can be a great way to "get things off your chest" and express what you really feel.

Here are some examples:


Winter Poem

Nikki Giovanni


once a snowflake fell

on my brow and i loved

it so much and i kissed

it and it was happy and called its cousins

and brothers and a web

of snow engulfed me then

i reached to love them all

and i squeezed them and they became

a spring rain and i stood perfectly

still and was a flower



Lyrical Lesson: Free Verse

1. Write a paragraph or paragraphs entitled "Who Am I?"

2. Go back and break the paragraph into lines

3. As you do this revise the lines until they look, feel, and sound right to you.

4. Complete a self-portrait to reflect the "real" you. Scan the picture into your

document. Your teacher will show you how.

5. Use the optic camera and read your poem aloud and save it on the computer.


Optional Lesson:

1. Take your web and ideas about the different cultures (from Lesson 2).

Choose one idea from the web (beliefs, custom, clothing, environment or traditions). Write a paragraph a on this topic.


2. Break the paragraph into lines or stanzas, if you want to express more than one idea.

3. Use a magazine or your own original artwork to illustrate your idea.

4. In your class, compile the same cultures together to form one large poem.



Lyrical Lessons