It has been said that in 1816 Lord Byron rented a house in Geneva, “Villa Diodati” where he, Percy Byshe Shelley, and Mary Shelley met. They spent the summer together, and over a period of 3 days of rain they were forced to remain inside. In order to pass the time, Byron challenged each person there to construct his or her own fantastical ghost story. This lesson has two components; the first is to recreate the challenge of 1816, and the second component is to teach the components of romanticism. Lesson One: Divide the students into groups of 4, and give each group a poem written by Byron, and a poem written by Percy Bysshe or Mary Shelley. Have the students read over both poems and discuss, with each other, which poem is better. Have the students write down their reasoning for their choice. Each group will recite the poem they chose, and present their reasoning. Lesson Two: Teach the components of romanticism. Give a brief history of the romanticist movement, featuring notable poets, along with some of their most famous poems. (Example: Byron’s “She Walks in Beauty”). Teach the popular structures used within the romantic poetry movement. Teach the students how a romantic poem would be written and demonstrate with examples. Have the students write their own romantic poem.
In this lesson, students will have opportunities to:
- Read poetry and think critically about it.
- Work with their classmates and discuss their opinions and attitudes towards the poems with their classmates.
- Read poetry aloud, understanding the importance of grammar and the placement of words and punctuation.
- Understand that poetry is not black and white – a lot of their classmates will have different opinions than them.
- Write romantic poetry and learn how the themes and style play an integral role in writing a romantic poem.