Poetry Analysis: Learning Parts of Speech With Gwendolyn Brooks’ “The Tiger Who Wore White Gloves, or, What You Are You Are”

brooksGwendolyn Elizabeth Brooks (June 17, 1917 – December 3, 2000) was an African American poet, author, and teacher. Her work often dealt with the personal celebrations and struggles of ordinary people in her community. Her poem, The Tiger Who Wore White Gloves, or, What You Are You Are features all 9 Parts of Speech, making it not only the perfect poem to study the various Parts, but also enables students to enjoy the majesty of a prolific African American woman. 

Let’s review the 9 Parts of Speech: 

NOUN: A noun is a person, place, thing, or idea (ex. dog, school, television, freedom)

PRONOUN: A pronoun is word that takes the place of a noun (ex. he, she, her, they, them, it)

VERB: A verb describes action (ex. ran, sing, dance, talk)  or state of being (ex. is, were, be, are, was)

ADJECTIVE: An adjective is a word that describes  (modifies) a noun (ex. yellow, big, beautiful, saddened, fierce).

ADVERB: An adverb is a word that describes (modifies) a verb, an adjective, or another adverb (ex. loudly, carefully, under).

ARTICLE: An article is a word used to modify a noun, which is a person, place, object, or idea. Technically, an article is an adjective, which is any word that modifies a noun. Articles indicate general or generic (a, an) and specific (the). (ex. I want dog. vs.  I want the dog that I saw on t.v.). 

CONJUNCTION: A conjunction joins words, phrases, or clauses, and indicates the relationship between the elements joined. The acronym F.A.N.B.O.Y.S., which stands for For, And, Nor, But, Or, Yet, and So)  Coordinating conjunctions connect grammatically equal elements: and, but, or, nor, for, so, yet. Subordinating conjunctions connect clauses that are not equal: because, although, while, since, etc. There are other types of conjunctions as well.

INTERJECTION: An interjection is a word used to express emotion. It is often followed by an exclamation point (ex. Help!, Fire! Yaay!).

PREPOSITION: A preposition is a word placed before a noun or pronoun to form a phrase modifying another word in the sentence (ex. on, with, over, before, between).

First, read the poem. Write down as many of the Parts of Speech that you can identify. My examples follow.

 The Tiger Who Wore White Gloves,

or, What You Are You Are

By Gwendolyn Brooks


  1. There once was a tiger, terrible and tough,
  2. who said, “I don’t think tigers are stylish enough.
  3. They put on only orange and stripes of fierce black.
  4. Fine and fancy fashion is what they mostly lack.
  5. Even though they proudly
  6. speak most loudly,
  7. so that the jungle shakes
  8. and every eye awakes—
  9. Even though they slither
  10. hither and thither
  11. in such a wild way
  12. that few may care to stay—
  13. to be tough just isn’t enough.”
  14. These things the tiger said,
  15. And growled and tossed his head,
  16. and rushed to the jungle fair
  17. for something fine to wear.
  18. Then!—what a hoot and yell
  19. upon the jungle fell
  20. The rhinoceros rasped!
  21. The elephant gasped!
  22. “By all that’s sainted!”
  23. said wolf—and fainted.
  24. The crocodile cried.
  25. The lion sighed.
  26. The leopard sneered.
  27. The jaguar jeered.
  28. The antelope shouted.
  29. The panther pouted.
  30. Everyone screamed
  31. “We never dreamed
  32. that ever could be
  33. in history
  34. a tiger who loves
  35. to wear white gloves.
  36. White gloves are for girls
  37. with manners and curls
  38. and dresses and hats and bow-ribbons.
  39. That’s the way it always was
  40. and rightly so, because
  41. it’s nature’s nice decree
  42. that tiger folk should be
  43. not dainty, but daring,
  44. and wisely wearing
  45. what’s fierce as the face,
  46. not whiteness and lace!”
  47. They shamed him and shamed him—
  48. till none could have blamed him,
  49. when at last, with a sigh
  50. and a saddened eye,
  51. and in spite of his love,
  52. he took off each glove,
  53. and agreed this was meant
  54. all to prevail:
  55. each tiger content
  56. with his lashing tail
  57. and satisfied
  58. with his strong striped hide.


Here is a partial review of the Parts of Speech I found in this poem. What else can you find?

Line 2: who said, “I don’t think tigers are stylish enough.”

     The word tigers is a plural noun. 

Line 3: They put on only orange and stripes of fierce black

  The word they is a pronoun. It takes the place of the plural noun tigers. 

Line 4: Fine and Fancy fashion is what they mostly lack.

      The words fine and fancy are adjectives.  These adjectives describe the word fashion.

Lines 9 & 10:   L9 Even though they slither  L10  hither and thither

      The words hither and there are adverbs.  These adverbs describe the verb slither

 Lines 16 & 17 contain prepositions. The word to is a preposition. 

     Line 16 and rushed to the jungle fair

     Line 17 for something fine to wear.

Line 18  Then!—what a hoot and yell

     The word Then! is an interjection. 

Lines 24 – 29 all end with powerful verbs that describes what each animal did. Each line begins with the word the, which is an article. 

  • The crocodile cried.
  • The lion sighed.
  • The leopard sneered.
  • The jaguar jeered.
  • The antelope shouted.
  • The panther pouted.

Lines 37 & 38 use conjunctions to connect individual words. The word and is a conjunction.

     Line 37 with manners and curls

     Line 38 and dresses and hats and bow-ribbons.


Feel free to copy and paste this lesson and use it as a supplement to your lessons on the Parts of Speech and/or African American Poetry. For more lessons that emphasize African Americans, follow my blog. Also, like us on Facebook, TAMS and ED Homeschool. Visit our website at http://www.tamsanded.com 

Poetry analysis: Imagery & Onomatopoeia

For this lesson, I used the book, I Got the Rhythm, by Connie Schofield-Morrison who uses imagery and onomatopoeia to help us experience the beats that makes our bodies rock. Before I jump into that, however, I want to send a shout out to illustrator, Frank Morrison, whose art captures the essence of finding the rhythm within ourselves!

“To find the rhythm in yourself, all you’ve got to do is look around.” 

I Got the Rhythm by Connie Schofield-Morrison

imagery: the literary term used for language and description that appeals to our five senses. smell, sight, taste, touch, and hearing. 

onomatopoeia a word, which imitates the natural sounds of a thing. A few examples: “Honk honk,” says the car or “Ssssssss,” says the snake. 

Although I Got the Rhythm is not a book of poetry, per se, it is, nonetheless, a great resource that breaks down the elements of imagery and onomatopoeia, which are two prominent poetic devices. 

About the book: On a simple trip to the park, the joy of music overtakes a mother and daughter. The little girl hears a rhythm coming from the world around her- from butterflies, to street performers, to ice cream sellers everything is musical! She sniffs, snaps, and shakes her way into the heart of the beat, finally busting out in an impromptu dance, which all the kids join in on! Award-winning illustrator Frank Morrison and Connie Schofield-Morrison, capture the beat of the street, to create a rollicking read that will get any kid in the mood to boogie.Related image

Teachers, instruct your students to close their eyes and listen as you read the book. Tell them to point to the body part (eyes, nose, mouth, hands, and ears) that describes the images as you read them. Remind them of the definition of imagery and encourage them to feel the experience. 

Image result for frank morrison illustrator I got the rhythm

I’ve Got the Rhythm

By Connie Schofield-Morrison

I thought of a rhythm in my mind think think

I heard the rhythm with my ears beat beat

I looked at the rhythm with my eyes beat beat

I smelled the rhythm with my nose sniff sniff

I sang the rhythm with my mouth ooh la la

I caught the rhythm with my hands clap clap

I kept the rhythm with my fingers snap snap

I shook a rhythm with my hips shake shake

I felt the rhythm with my knees knock knock

I walked the rhythm with my feet stomp stomp

I tapped the rhythm with my toes tip tap

I danced to the rhythm of a drum beat bop

Related image


I clapped and snapped

I tipped and tapped

I popped and locked

I hipped and hopped


Analysis: Refer to my blog on Poetic Devices for definitions of the following as needed:

  • How many times does the author use the word “rhythm”?  Why do you think she repeats the word so many times?
  • What is the theme of this poem? 
  • What is the mood of this poem? 
  • How do the illustrations complement the words? 
  • Underline the verbs. Write a synonym for each one. 
  • Write two examples of imagery used.
  • “snap snap,” “clap clap,” “beat bop,” “bing bang” and “boom boom” are examples of onomatopoeia. Write what each sound is describing. For example, “snap snap” is the sound of fingers snapping. 

About the author: Connie Schofield-Morrison has been writing since she was a young girl and is inspired every day by the big sounds and bright colors of the world around her. I Got the Rhythm is her first picture book.

About the illustrator: Growing up in New Jersey, Frank Morrison began developing his own style through ‘R.I.P’ art scenes that brought him considerable street recognition and local acclaim. But it wasn’t until he visited the Louvre Museum in Paris with his dancing group, that he realized painting was his true creative path. His talent and hard work paid off with over 20 illustrated children’s books, including the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award winner, Jazzy Miz Mozetta and the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor book, Little Melba and her Big Trombone.



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African-American Poets: Milestones in History (grades 3rd – 8th)

What is African-American poetry?  Poetry in general is  like regular writing with a few tweaks. Instead of sentences, poems consist of lines. Instead of paragraphs, poems consist of stanzas. Poetry uses a lot of “sensory” language, which consists of words that help us see, hear, taste, touch, and smell the experience.  

African American poetry is a type of writing that’s seeped in history, culture and rich family traditions. It details things like oxtails, greens, and candied yams served up on Sundays after church and  old folk’s stories about growing up black in America. African-American poetry helps us feel the hot sun during a long day of picking cotton, the belting of whips beating down on a slave’s back, and it reminds us of the days when blacks could not drink from the same water fountain as whites. 

I could go on and on describing the beauty of African American poetry, but I think Lucy, Jupiter, Phillis, and George, can explain better than I can. You see:

  • Lucy Terry’s Bars Fight (1746), is the first poem that we know of that was written by an African American.
  • Jupiter Hammond, a religious poet who led many slaves to Jesus Christ, is the first African American who published a poem.
  • Phillis Wheatley the first African American woman who published an entire book of poetry.
  • George Moses Horton, the slave from North Carolina who became the first African American to use verse to argue against slavery.

Take a look:

Image result for Lucy terry image
Lucy Terry Prince (c. 1730–1821) is the author of the earliest known work of literature by an African American. She was stolen from Africa and sold into slavery as an infant, and became a free woman in Massachusetts, 1756.

The first known poem written by an African-American was Bars Fight, by Lucy Terry. Bars Fight is a ballad. A ballad is a type of poem that tells a story. Bars Fight is about an attack on two white families by Native Americans. The title of the poem comes from the area where the attack took place, The Bars , which is an area in Deerfield. 

Her poem is also written in formal couplets. In poetry, a couplet is a pair of lines in a verse. Usually they rhyme and have the same , meter (rhythm). Each couplet makes up a unit or complete thought. 

Bars Fight (1746)

by Lucy Terry 

August ’twas the twenty-fifth,

Seventeen hundred forty-six;

The Indians did in ambush lay,

Some very valiant men to slay,

The names of whom I’ll not leave out.

Samuel Allen like a hero fout,

And though he was so brave and bold,

His face no more shalt we behold

Eteazer Hawks was killed outright,

Before he had time to fight, –

Before he did the Indians see,

Was shot and killed immediately.

Oliver Amsden he was slain,

Which caused his friends much grief and pain.

Simeon Amsden they found dead,

Not many rods distant from his head.

Adonijah Gillett we do hear

Did lose his life which was so dear.

John Sadler fled across the water,

And thus escaped the dreadful slaughter.

Eunice Allen see the Indians coming,

And hopes to save herself by running,

And had not her petticoats stopped her,

The awful creatures had not catched her,

Nor tommy hawked her on the head,

And left her on the ground for dead.

Young Samuel Allen, Oh lack-a-day!

Was taken and carried to Canada.

Image result for jupiter hammon images
Jupiter Hammon was the first African American poet to be published in the United States. He was born a slave Lloyd Harbor, New York, on October 17, 1711. The Lloyd family encouraged Hammon to attend school, where he learned to read and write. In his early years, Hammon was heavily influenced by a major religious movement called, “The Great Awakening.” His poems reflected his love for Jesus Christ and encouraged slaves to accept Christ as well. 

As you read this poem, consider the author’s message. What message do you think Hammond is trying to convey? 

A Poem for Children with Thoughts on Death (1792)

by Jupiter Hammond

O Ye young and thoughtless youth,

Come seek the living God,

The scriptures are a sacred truth,

Ye must believe the word.

Tis God alone can make you wise,

His wisdom’s from above,

He fills the soul with sweet supplies

By his redeeming love.

Remember youth the time is short,

Improve the present day

And pray that God may guide your thoughts,

And teach your lips to pray.

To pray unto the most high God,

And beg restraining grace,

Then by the power of his word

You’ll see the Saviour’s face.

Little children they may die,

Turn to their native dust,

Their souls shall leap beyond the skies,

And live among the just.

Like little worms they turn and crawl,

And gasp for every breath.

The blessed Jesus sends his call,

And takes them to his rest.

Thus the youth are born to die,

The time is hastening on,

The Blessed Jesus rends the sky,

And makes his power known.

Then ye shall hear the angels sing

The trumpet give a sound,

Glory, glory to our King,

The Saviour’s coming down.

Start ye saints from dusty beds,

And hear a Saviour call,

Twas a Jesus Chirst that died and bled,

And thus preserv’d thy soul.

This the portion of the just,

Who lov’d to serve the Lord,

Their bodies starting from the dust,

Shall rest upon their God.

They shall join that holy word,

That angels constant sing,

Glory, glory to the Lord,

Hallelujahs to our King.

Thus the Saviour will appear,

With guards of heavenly host,

Those blessed Saints, shall then declare,

Tis Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

Then shall ye hear the trumpet sound,

The graves give up their dead,

Those blessed saints shall quick awake,

And leave their dusty beds.

Then shall you hear the trumpet sound,

And rend the native sky,

Those bodies starting from the ground,

In the twinkling of an eye.

There to sing the praise of God,

And join the angelic train,

And by the power of his word,

Unite together again.

Where angels stand for to admit

Their souls at the first word,

Cast sceptres down at Jesus feet

Crying holy holy Lord.

Now glory be unto our God

All praise be justly given,

Ye humble souls that love the Lord

Come seek the joys of Heaven.


Image result for phillis wheatley images
Phillis Wheatley was born in Gambia, West Africa. No one knows for sure when she was born. However, when she was kidnapped and shipped to America, experts guessed she was around seven years old, because of her missing front teeth.  She was sold into slavery and purchased by the prominent Wheatley family of Boston. Although it was illegal to educate slaves, the Wheatleys taught Phillis how to read and write. She is the first African American woman to publish a book of poetry. 


  • mercy – compassion shown towards someone
  • pagan – ungodly
  • benighted – in a state of moral ignorance
  • redemption – the act of being saved from sin
  • diabolic – connected to evil, the devil
  • angelic – like angels

How does Wheatley feel about  Africa?

On Being Brought from Africa to America

by Phillis Wheatley

‘Twas mercy brought me from my Pagan land,

Taught my benighted soul to understand

That there’s a God, that there’s a Saviour too:

Once I redemption neither sought nor knew.

Some view our sable race with scornful eye,

“Their colour is a diabolic die.”

Remember, ChristiansNegros, black as Cain,

May be refin’d, and join th’ angelic train.


Image result for george moses horton images
George Moses Horton (1797? – 1884) was born a slave in North Carolina. He was the first African American to use poetry to promote antislavery messages. He earned money writing love poems for men who wanted to woo the ladies.

Horton’s poem is written in formal couplets. In poetry, a couplet is a pair of lines in a verse. Usually they rhyme and have the same , meter (rhythm). Each couplet makes up a unit or complete thought.

mood and tone help the reader find meaning in a poem. We can identify both by looking at the setting, characters, details, and word choices. 

mood – is the atmosphere of the story.

tone – the author’s attitude towards the topic. 

What is the tone of the poem, “Weep”? 

Support your answer with words from the poem and their meanings.



By George Moses Horton

Weep for the country in its present state,

And of the gloom which still the future waits;

The proud confederate eagle heard the sound,

And with her flight fell prostrate to the ground!

Weep for the loss the country has sustained,

By which her now dependent is in jail;

The grief of him who now the war survived,

The conscript husbands and the weeping wives!

Weep for the seas of blood the battle cost,

And souls that ever hope forever lost!

The ravage of the field with no recruit,

Trees by the vengeance blasted to the root!

Weep for the downfall o’er your heads and chief,

Who sunk without a medium of relief;

Who fell beneath the hatchet of their pride,

Then like the serpent bit themselves and died!

Weep for the downfall of your president,

Who far too late his folly must repent;

Who like the dragon did all heaven assail,

And dragged his friends to limbo with his tail!

Weep o’er peculiar swelling coffers void,

Our treasures left, and all their banks destroyed;

Their foundless notes replete with shame to all,

Expecting every day their final fall,

In quest of profit never to be won,

Then sadly fallen and forever down!

Additional Resources

Dream in Color, a collaborative effort for elementary-aged children. 

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