Lesson Plans: The Mosaic Format

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     Grades: 11,12 > College Level

Objective — The student will:

  • understand the meaning of the term "metaphor"

  • write a poem that utilizes (a) "metaphor" in its construction

  • gain better understanding of the literary terms "figurative" and "literal." 

  • demonstrate an awareness of similar and/or comparative metaphors by writing the poem in mosaic format, the end result being that each individual section of the poem, when read together, provides one overall metaphor

  • will understand the meaning of cliché and avoid usage of cliché in the poem

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Hint: Have each student think of and list experiences, incidents or occurrences that might not be similar in context or circumstance but provide nearly like outcomes or lessons.  Also, provide and/or have students provide examples of "figurative" and "literal" literal statements.

Poems in Sections: The Mosaic Format


Write a poem which satisfies the following criteria:


  1. The poem must consist of three, four, or five short numbered sections.

  2. No section should be rhymed.

  3. The poem should have a title which:

    1. gives the reader at least some clue as to what the overall poem is about;

    2. like the title "Religion Back Home" and "Eclipse," (see following examples) the title should be both literal & figurative.

  4. Each section should be a complete little poem in its own right, very concrete and rich in imagery, and with its own sense of an ending.

  5. Each section should, like all achieved poems, in a way that is both indirect yet vivid touch upon a different facet of the poem's overall theme.

  6. All the sections of the poem, despite their differences, should contribute to whatever the point is which the overall poem is trying to suggest, but the poem should not read only like a list of examples, because:

  7. The whole--all the sections taken (read) together--should be greater than the sum of the parts. In other words, all of the "mini" poems together, as a whole, should be a kind of metaphor.

  8. The point of the poem should be sufficiently subtle and complex to require the strategy outlined above.





Religion Back Home



When God's parachute failed,

about the spring of 1945,

the sky in Texas jerked open

and we all sailed easily

into this new strange harness on the stars.



The minister smoked,

and he drank,

and there was that woman in the choir,

but what really finished him-­-

he wore spats.



A Short Review of Samson Agonistes

Written for Miss Arrington's Class

in Liberal High School


Our Father Who art in Heaven

can lick their Father Who art in Heaven.



When my little brother chanted,

"In 1492 Jesus crossed the ocean blue,"

Mother said, "Bob, you mean

Columbus crossed the ocean blue.

And he said, "always did get

them two guys mixed up.


                                   --William Stafford








                Recall the light

that moved under the bedroom door,

that sifted through the dust-mice caught

beneath the bed, then was gone.

It was your mother in the hall,

deep in the night--the sound of water

from the bathroom, the whine of plumbing

like the torturer's bride escaped

into the wall.




                  I could not turn

away from their flash when distant

visiting relatives took pictures:

I stared at the blue bulbs

they licked then stuck in steel

sockets. Afterward, the seared spot

still floating in my eye,        .

I would secretly peel the plastic

coating off--a safety device

they told me, in case the glass globe

should explode.




                   My father held

the black, almost opaque sheets for me

to protect my eyes, he said, but

I would remember this eclipse forever.

The papers carried stories of two boys

gone blind from unprotected staring.

They should have had such a father

as mine, I said, but wondered         .

what it was like, that last moment

of sun, that ring of corrosive light

just at that moment beyond recall.


                                       --Bin Ramke


Some questions to consider regarding example 2:


1. What literal situation does the first section describe?

2. How does Section Two contribute to the whole?

3. What does the title have to do with the body of the poem?

4. What is the entire poem really about?

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