The Poetry Walk (featuring Metaphor)

If you look very closely, you’ll see the metaphor.

“Twas a lovely day, no? Made lovelier by the poetry walk, yes?

For those of you who had better things to do, and for those of you who weren’t paying attention, I figured I’d throw a little recap in here, or better yet, throw in the chance for you to tell the story of The Poetry Walk (featuring Metaphor).

Here’s how it will work, in my blue sky scenario:

I will identify the stops we made on our way to the metaphor, and you will tell the story of one of the stops, or write a bit of what you learned as Mr. McAteer alternately lectured and got weird.

How can you contribute? Glad you asked. There are two ways. The easiest way is to click on the comment button at the bottom of the post and start writing.

If you want to get intricate about things, maybe throw in an image and a hyperlink or two, then you can log in to the website using the Log In button to the right. Back in August, I sent you a username and password for the site. You can log in, click on the Dashboard, and click on Post – Add New. To upload images, you can click on the upload link just above the headline box; to hyperlink, click on the chain button hidden among the buttons at the top of the post box.

I hope everyone ran like the wind (a simile) through Waveny today. That means you, too, Anna.

So for those of you who dare to take up the challenge, here we go:

  • Weed pulling
  • Flag on a flag pole
  • Snuggling vines
  • Beautiful birds
  • Leaf colors
  • A text
  • Two roads diverged
  • A stone wall interrupted by a running trail
  • The Metaphor
  • Vines in disguise

Thanks for playing our game. See you in class.



  1. Question about the beautiful birds: Aristotle talked about the importance of magnitude in finding beauty which is why hawks are more appealing to watch than sparrows. But most of other metaphors had a theme of how poets are better at noticing details than anyone else in the world. How do you balance this need for magnitude to make your subject compelling, but still have enough details (something that is inherently small) to make your poetry meaningful?

    • Now that is a great question, Charlie. It must have something to do with the principle of simultaneity. Let’s see if we can find the answer in some of the poems we read in class.

  2. A stone wall interrupted by a running trail:
    When we were approaching the Metaphor, we stopped briefly at the stones running straight in the woods. Most of us (at least I certainly) had never noticed it or had taken a second look at it. But Mr. McAteer pointed out how odd it really seemed in a woods. The wall was perfectly straight. Someone two hundred odd years had built this wall out of stones from the area. And checked every couple of feet to make sure it was straight. It was a prideful property line, worked on by a dedicated person, which now is broken by a path.
    Poets are able to notice these little details about their surroundings, like the stone wall in the middle of a park path in the middle of New Canaan, Connecticut. That’s kinda cool.

    I don’t know how long this is going to be so I’ll stop now…

  3. My favorite part of the Poetry walk was right before the flag and the birds. We were all walking, trying to keep up with Mr. McAteer, when Juliet said, “Oh there’s my car!” Mr. McAteer responded by saying something along the lines of, “Well, I don’t know what it looks like, so I can’t find it.” I thought this was the end of his statement, so I kinda stopped listening for a little while. But I caught Mr. McAteer saying, “It’s kind of like not being able to find anaphora or anastrophe because you don’t know what it is.” I told Mr. McAteer that I knew what these were, because I was in AP Latin. And then I realized, that even though I knew what they were, along with other rhetorical devices, I hadn’t been noticing them in the things we had read in class so far. This kind of connects to the rock wall. If Mr. McAteer hadn’t pointed out that there was a rock wall, I definitely wouldn’t have noticed it. I would’ve thought, “Ugh, I have to step over this rock.” I wouldn’t have noticed that there were multiple rocks, or have given a single thought as to why they were there, and how they’d gotten there. These two events combined made me realize that I don’t really see the big picture. And even as I write this, I realize that this is where I’ve had the biggest trouble writing thesis essays. I write my thesis about one thing, and if I don’t pay attention, I’m talking about something completely different in the third body paragraph. So my big goal for this year, is to notice the big picture, in poetry, essays, and life. (Oh, how philosophical)

  4. Weeds:
    *pulling them out can’t be done just from the top, the whole root has to come out.
    How might this be done, well there is a connection/feeling or an instinct so to speak that makes you realize its time to pull the weed out

    For anyone that was confused by what Mr. McAteer was doing with the weed
    (except the execution was better during the metaphor walk)

  5. To my surprise, when I asked my sister if she heard the weed pulling analogy ten years ago, she said “no that’s strange.” It seemed like the kind of lesson that transcended time and classrooms and waves of thought. The weed pulling analogy was simple: one must feel for themselves when the weed can be pulled so as to get all of its roots out just as one must interpret (or even write) poetry by themselves, free from any outside influences and “feel” what comes naturally to them so as to get the most out of the experience. Perhaps I misinterpreted and that is why it was strange to her or maybe, like Borges said, she just wasn’t the right reader(/listener) that came along.

    • The weed inspiration occurred to me a couple of years ago while I was…wait for it…pulling weeds. I think the only thing that hasn’t changed from the time Stephanie was in the class is the tragedy essay assignment. A lot of the books will be the same, but what goes into everything is different, as I have taken brilliant observations made by former students and now regularly present them as if they are my own insights. The beauty of this is that nobody knows I do it, as those students aren’t around anymore to call me on it. Pretty smart, huh?

  6. Tess Musky-Goldwyn

    Although the falling leaves and peer murmurs occasionally shifted my focus from McAteer’s words to distraction, I appreciated every moment of our walk this morning. I’d like to respond to the weed pulling, and its metaphorical significance (partially because I liked the metaphor, and partially because this occurred at the beginning of the walk, when I was, admittedly, the most focused). The weed, or rather weeding, is an intricate process, which differs for each person. Someone can show a person how to weed, or describe how the weeding process works, but truly, each time a person weeds it is up to him/her to “feel out” the best approach to pulling out the sucker. This relates directly to poetry. People can tell you what a poem is about, how to analyze it and what you should feel after reading it, but it is really up to the individual to figure this out for himself. That is, like in weeding, each person has a different method of how to pull out the weed. And sometimes it takes a person a while to figure out this method. Like in poetry, the more you read and analyze, the more versed you get in poetic style and symbolism and literary devices. With weeding, the more you get down on you hands and knees and pull out the damn things, the more versed you get in the process. And that being said, like with every poem, every weed is different. Some are easily pulled, with little attachment into the soil, while some take a lot of plying and wiggling to get out. And sometimes, a person doesn’t even pull the entire weed, but rather only gets some part of it out, leaving the rest in the ground, undiscovered. Poems are individual beings, growing and developing differently, as do weeds. Each one must be tackled differently. Sometimes we get the entire poem, understanding its entire intended purpose, or at least what we feel we can get from the poem, and sometimes we are left wondering. Sometimes the weed isn’t fully pulled out, and even when we try to go back time and time again, we can’t ever get the whole thing.

    Now as I am writing about the weed metaphor, I am recognizing how weird it is that it relates to a poem so well. The weed in all of its pesky glory is like those pieces of poetry that we want to greatly to understand, but sometimes can’t fully tackle. Well, I think I’ve said what I needed to say about that matter. Now I’ll have the image of a weed in my head for a while, but it’s OK.

    • That’s a lot of thought, Tess. I like the idea of pulling too soon and leaving the poem for later discovery, as opposed to leaving an authentic meaning behind. We didn’t even get to the kinds of flowering weeds – with their purples and yellows – which, because they’re called weeds (and we know they have to be removed), are denied the ability to be called beautiful.


    behold, it is the great wall of China! The perfect example to stop and ponder: holy crap someone or some group probably had to put a lot of effort, work, money, thought into this project. Talk about dedication. (or look at the girls’ cross country results and talk about dedication, congrats ladies!)

    But anyways, just like the great wall the wall within waveny exhibits the work that was put in…but in waveny we can also see how the forces unraveled that hard work.

    Behold a poem!

    This hard work probably meant a lot to someone–all their effort was put in and so pride comes into play, but to us, it mostly meant nothing, and we probably would not have even noticed it without McAttack’s trained eye.

    Maybe that bothers you, maybe that doesn’t…but it certainly leads me to a lot of questions (TENSION!!!!!!!!!!).

    Perfect time to go write about it 😉

  8. My favorite part of the metaphor walk was when we stopped to look at the flag. At first, the flag hung un-moving on the pole, a symbol of solitude and sadness. However, as soon as the wind picked up and the flag started to wave in the wind, we saw its beauty and were reminded of its significance as the symbol of our nation. It was really interesting when we noticed that the flag was ripped slightly in the top corner. However, the wind bent the flag in such a way that the rip could not be seen from certain angles. This instance just comes to show how beauty can be defined differently from person to person. Depending on our perspective we can interpret an object’s importance or beauty differently. This instance reminded me of the poem ‘A Valentine for Ernest Mann’ that we talked about in class. Through this poem and our experience on the metaphor walk we noticed that beauty lies in all things, but we just have to learn how to change our perspective and look past flaws.

  9. This morning overall was certainly an interesting/entertaining experience if anything, but the most memorable part for me was when Mr. McAteer managed to undo everything I had learned about Robert Frost as a child. This could of course be taken as: Mr. McAteer how dare you crush my dreams of wanting to be a non-conformist or it could be taken as wow, I’ve never thought of it that way. It of course was the latter (as you would expect) and it definitely taught me something important about how poetry is supposed to be read and understood. You can’t impose meaning on a poem, and you can’t want it to be something just because you think the author is a creative guy who wanted to do his own thing in life. You have to take it for what it is, word by word.

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