Poetry Lesson Plan: Identify and Illustrate Examples of Imagery in T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”


I became a high school English teacher so I could subject my students to repeated readings of all my favorite literature. You can all relate to that, right? Who needs a curriculum map when you have a lifelong love of reading?

Okay, maybe that’s not entirely true, but it is still partially true. I do love to bring my favorite literature into my classroom whenever I can, and this poetry lesson using examples of imagery is proof. In this case, I make my students read my favorite poem of all time, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" by T.S. Eliot. When my students see how long it is, they tend to groan and glare. But then I tell them that I read it in 9th grade, so they can suck it up as 11th graders (or whatever grade they’re in, I teach it to all grades) and read it, too. Plus, I promise to help them figure it out along the way, which is what this poetry lesson plan is all about.

Teaching the Lesson

For this lesson using examples of imagery, you will need a class set of the poem, several sheets of plain white paper, and coloring supplies. You will also need to divide your class into small groups; I’d say 3 or 4 students at the most per group is a good round number.

I like to start by reading the poem out loud to the students first. This way they get a chance to hear it read out loud by a good reader, and it gives them a basic picture of the poem in all its glory.

The next step is to assign each student group one section of the poem. How you divide the poem is up to you, but make sure there’s some vivid imagery in each section. In an average-sized class, each group will get two or three stanzas of the poem to work with. Tell the group members that their task is to identify the imagery in their section and represent it visually on paper. Then they need to explain the significance of that imagery in a mini presentation to the rest of the class.

This poetry lesson plan allows students to take a difficult poem and break it down into easily digestible parts in small group work. Then by explaining their section of the poem to the class, they have to really dig into that small section and the rest of the class benefits from the explanation. The examples of imagery help them to visualize the poem and appreciate Eliot’s craft.

This post is part of the series: Poetry Lesson Plans

This is a series of free online poetry lesson plans to use in the high school English classroom.
  1. Poetry Lesson Plan: Understanding Central Purpose in Mixed-Message Poetry
  2. Poetry Lesson Plan: Teaching Richard Cory
  3. Poetry Lesson Plan Using Examples of Imagery: Draw Your Own Imagery
  4. Lesson Plan: Strategies for Teaching Poetry
  5. Poetry Lesson Plan: Reading and Listening Without Bias