English Language Arts, Reading Literature
Material Type:
Lesson Plan
High School
  • Grade 12 ELA
  • Love
  • Poetry
    Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial

    Carpe Diem Poetry

    Carpe Diem Poetry


    In this lesson, students will finish discussing the Marvell poem and read “Youth’s the Season Made for Joys.” All four of the poems fit the category of carpe diem poetry. Students will write about which of these poems is best for its purpose and discuss what makes a good love poem.


    • Read the lesson and student content.
    • Anticipate student difficulties and identify the differentiation options you will choose for working with your students.
    • Plan how you will pair students for partner work and how you will match pairs to form small groups.

    Three Arguments and "To His Coy Mistress"

    • Let students know they will have some time to share their homework.
    • Once they have had a chance to talk, ask them to review their notes for Marvell’s poem “To His Coy Mistress” and decide on two things to share with the whole class.
    • They should also be prepared to share what words or passages they didn’t understand.
      • ELL: Make sure that some ELLs do not avoid this activity. It is important for ELLs to share out loud so that they can hear their own voice and get used to talking in front of large groups.
    • Facilitate a sharing of ideas from the homework assignment and also about the Marvell poem “To His Coy Mistress.”
    • Ask your students to review and add to the Criteria for Judging a Good Poem class chart about criteria for a good poem, specifically now a good love poem.


    Prepare for a Whole Group Discussion about Lesson 2’s Closing and homework.

    Share with a partner your list of the two or three arguments each poet made in his poem.

    • Review your notes from Marvell’s poem “To His Coy Mistress,” and recall the two lines you identified in Lesson 2’s Closing that you would like to share with the whole class.

    Then discuss your homework and “To His Coy Mistress” with your classmates.

    Youth's the Season Made for Joys

    • Give students at least 5 minutes to read and discuss the John Gay poem “Youth’s the Season Made for Joys.”
      • SWD: Consider pairing struggling students with disabilities with more proficient readers. Discussions with the proficient reader may spark ideas for students with disabilities.
    • An annotated version of “Youth’s the Season Made for Joys” is available.

    Work Time

    • Read and annotate one more carpe diem poem, “Youth’s the Season Made for Joys” by John Gay.
    • Talk about how this poem is similar to the others and what makes it different.

    Four Poems

    • Allow the students to work in groups of four to talk about the good qualities—the merits—of each poem. Their answers will be subjective and may be expressions of personal taste.
    • Let students know they will be asked to write a short explanation of which poem they consider to be best of the four.

    Work Time

    With your partner, join another pair of students to talk about the good qualities of each of the four poems you have now read.

    • Make a list of lines you like from the poems.
    • Comment on the diction (the particular vocabulary) each poet used and compare it.
    • Discuss which poem you think would be most effective in convincing the young woman to do what he wants.
    • Talk about how the speakers of the poem flatter the young woman.

    Open Notebook

    A gallery of the four poems follows.

    Best Poem for Purpose

    • Give students time to share their writing and to agree on what criteria they used and the reasons they chose a particular poem.
    • ELL: When ELLs turn to a partner, allow them to use their primary language if they are paired with a student who speaks the same language.
    • Call on different pairs to explain why they chose a particular poem.
    • Add to the Criteria for Judging a Good Poem class chart the criteria students used to determine which was the best love poem. The list could include the following:
      • ✓ Diction—word choices made by the author
      • ✓ Beauty of language and phrasing
      • ✓ Use of figures of speech and literary devices
      • ✓ Use of rhyme and rhythm
      • ✓ Sincerity, directness, and honesty
      • ✓ Sense of humor
      • ✓ Length or brevity
      • ✓ Intelligence or wit
      • SWD: Consider providing students with disabilities a summary of the big ideas in this class discussion to reinforce the important concepts covered.

    Work Time

    Write about which of these four poems does the best job accomplishing its purpose. Use one of the following options.

    • If you are the recipient of the poem, write about which poem you would most like to receive from an admirer and why.
    • If you are the sender of the poem, explain which poem you would send and why.

    Open Notebook

    A gallery of the four poems follows.

    Share your writing with a partner. Together make a list of what was important to you from the poem you chose.

    Join with your teacher and classmates in creating a list of criteria for judging a love poem.

    Gallery: Best Poem for Purpose

    Criteria for Judging a Good Love Poem

    • Encourage students to do some thinking about the criteria they choose before Lesson 5’s writing assignment.


    Consider the criteria you and your classmates added to the Criteria for Judging a Good Poem class chart.

    • Decide for yourself what criteria on the list are important to you for judging a good love poem.

    Open Notebook


    • Encourage students to review the poems and their notes for homework. Ask them to consider what they notice about the poems’ themes, arguments, and poetic techniques.


    The next two lessons are dedicated to your culminating assessment.

    • Review your notes on the poems and the informational piece “Carpe Diem.”

    A gallery of the texts follows.