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Lesson: Neruda

Pablo Neruda’s "Ode to my Socks"

Translated by Margaret Sayers Peden

Level: Middle School

This playful ode by Pablo Neruda presents an accessible concept for your students to work from as they think about poetry and node poems. The main topic of this poem is easy for any middle school student: Neruda is writing in reverence to a pair of his socks. For this reading assignment, students will spend time investigating the various metaphors and similes in Neruda’s "Ode to my Socks." After finding the various analogies to socks, students should then think about the significance of such analogies. A prerequisite, then, is familiarity with simile and metaphor, as students will exert the most effort identifying these in the poem.

After studying this poem, students see the various ways in which they can use metaphor and simile to describe two objects, the feet and the socks. This will prepare them to write their own node poems that incorporate metaphors and similes for their own attire and treasured belongings. This assignment prepares them to write an imitation, although their version will cover a breadth of objects and will not achieve the same depth as "Ode to my Socks."

Task List

  1. If necessary, review the basics of similes and metaphors, and how poets use these analogies to make interesting connections for their readers.
  2. Depending on the age of your students, you can get them interested in the concept of socks by asking:

a. How many of you are wearing socks at the moment?
b. Does anyone have a favorite pair of socks?
c. Is anyone wearing mismatched socks? What happened to the matching set?
d. When socks get lost, what happens to them?
  1. Distribute copies of "Ode to my Socks" to your students, explaining that the famous poet Pablo Neruda wrote this homage to his socks.
  2. Have your students read the poem, clarifying any vocabulary words as you go along.
  3. Ask your students preliminary questions about how Neruda feels about his socks.
  4. Distribute "Worksheet: 'Ode to my Socks’" to your students.
  5. Read the directions for Part One aloud, and give your students 15 minutes to mine the poem for metaphors and similes.
  6. Once they complete Part One, review the list as a class by making a master list on the board. This gives students the opportunity to complete their charts.
  7. Next, explain Part Two to your students. In order for them to fully understand the directions, model the assignment using one of the samples given in Part One.
a. For instance: comparing feet to "two woolen fish" is a particularly surprising connection because fish are cold and clammy, much like feet are on a winter day. Fish also spend winters frozen under ponds and can’t move around. Now, if fish were covered with wool, they’d be able to venture out into the winter weather.


Worksheet: "Ode to my Socks"

Part One

Re-read Pablo Neruda’s "Ode to my Socks" and identify the analogies for the socks and the feet.

Part Two:

Choose your favorite simile or metaphor for socks and one simile or metaphor for feet, and explain why this connection is surprising and effective.



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