12-Line Poem

Today was the last day I would see my second year students before our 3-week break.  They’ve done nothing but SAT and TOEFL training for the past 4 months, and they just seemed so…bored.  The cure for boredom?  Creative writing, of course!  Credit for this idea goes to my advisor, Margo, who was always full of creative teaching and writing ideas.  All you need is a piece of lined paper and a pen…

Here are the rules:

  • I will give you one word.
  • You will use that word to create one line of poetry.
  • You CANNOT write more than one line.
  • The word MUST be included in the line.
  • The topic is up to you…see where your writing takes you!
Try the exercise for yourself by downloading the 12-line poem12-Line Poem Powerpoint powerpoint and going through the words.  You can use any form of the word (i.e., “paint” can be painting, painter, painted, etc.). Don’t worry about the “example” slide with the word “Chicago.”  That was my model for the students in which I asked them to shout out words for me to model writing a 12-line poem on the board…I ended up writing about a magician, a frog, and a curse.
Here are some of the poems my EFL students came up with.  Just awesome considering English is their second language, and reading each others’ poems finally got them to laugh!  They are such a serious class.

Did the words (yellow, travel, looked, bent, fair, better, worn, morning, leaves, doubted, sigh, road) remind any of you English majors of another poem?  I know it’s cliche, but “The Road Not Taken” is a poem I’ve always liked since 11th grade, and I pulled the words from that piece.  I gave my students a copy of the poem as a gift (haha I’m becoming such a stereotypical English teacher, calling poems gifts and handing them out purely for fun.  No analyzing this time.) along with some candy canes from America.  They’d never enjoyed or seen the red-and-white peppermint-y  treat before!

So here is the poem, for your reading pleasure on this lovely January day:

The Road Not Taken

By Robert Frost (written in 1920)

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.


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