The last of today’s devices from Packard’s The Poet’s Dictionary: A Handbook of Prosody and Poetic Devices
Tone: The accumulated effect of style, coloration, and texture. Like atmosphere in a short story or like mood in symphonic music, tone in poetry is the result of particular choices which affect the reader’s overall feeling toward a poem.
One of those choices is “context.” If a poem is part of a collection of poems, the poems often work together to set a tone.
A few years ago, I started working on a group of poems based on the concept of self-portraiture. Each poem was titled “Self Portrait: [here I would name the speaker of the poem]. It was a fun exercise. I wrote what I thought were credible (if not true) assessments of myself through that person’s eyes. I tried to pick people who know me well, and also people who only know me in a certain context (for example, “The Doctor”).
I am going to share with you one of these self-portrait poems because, by itself, its tone is entirely left up to the reader. Where I placed it in the collection, however, would set the tone for the reader; do you agree? Thanks for reading!
Self-Portrait: The Dog
(by Suzanne B. Leitner)
What a bitch!