Analyze a Jose Garcia Villa Poem

Directions: Read the following information about Jose Garcia Villa. Then answer the questions.

Jose Garcia Villa was born in Manila, Philippines. He came to the United States in 1930 and has resided here ever since. Villa has established an international reputation as a short story writer and as a poet, and was awarded the National Artist Award for Literature by the Philippine government. His first book of poems, Have Come, Am Here (1942), was hailed by American critics such as Marianne Moore and Mark Van Doren. This book received the poetry award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

"Lyric 17" is an excellent example of the use of the metaphor to create a better understanding of poetry. As you read "Lyric 17" think about the way this poem describes how a lyrical poem should be written. You may want to use the five steps for reading poetry discussed in the introduction to this unit.

"Lyric 17"
First, a poem must be magical,
Then musical as a sea-gull.
It must be a brightness moving
And hold secret a bird's flowering.
It must be slender as a bell,
And it must hold fire as well.
It must have the wisdom of bows
And it must kneel like a rose.
It must be able to hear
The luminance of dove and deer.
It must be able to hide
What it seeks, like a bride.
And over all I would like to hover
God, smiling from the poem's cover.

  1. Explain how using the five steps for reading a poem helped you understand "Lyric 17."

  2. When you read "Lyric 17," did you observe that every two lines rhyme? What else did you learn?

  3. To show how well you understood this poem, summarize each couplet, every two lines, beginning with the first two lines:
    "First, a poem must be magical
    then musical as a sea-gull

    By the time you complete this activity, you should have written seven statements that explain what Villa's definition of a good poem is.

  4. When you are finished, compare your summaries with other student summaries in your cooperative group.

Final Product

Create your own definition of poetry. (You may agree or disagree with Villa's view.) You may write your definition in prose, or if you like, in poetry form.

Excerpted from English Teacher's Portfolio of Multicultural Activities.

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