English and Literature
Submitted By HarryPotter
How to Analyze Poetry
1. Examine the situation in the poem:
Does the poem tell a story? Is it a narrative poem? If so, what events occur?
Does the poem express an emotion or describe a mood?
Poetic voice: Who is the speaker? Is the poet speaking to the reader directly or is the poem told through a fictional "persona"? To whom is he speaking? Can you trust the speaker?
Tone: What is the speaker's attitude toward the subject of the poem? What sort of tone of voice seems to be appropriate for reading the poem out loud? What words, images, or ideas give you a clue to the tone?
2. Examine the structure of the poem:
Form: Look at the number of lines, their length, their arrangement on the page. How does the form relate to the content? Is it a traditional form (e.g. sonnet, limerick) or "free form"? Why do you think the poem chose that form for his poem?
Movement: How does the poem develop? Are the images and ideas developed chronologically, by cause and effect, by free association? Does the poem circle back to where it started, or is the movement from one attitude to a different attitude (e.g. from despair to hope)?
Syntax: How many sentences are in the poem? Are the sentences simple or complicated? Are the verbs in front of the nouns instead of in the usual "noun, verb" order? Why?
Punctuation: What kind of punctuation is in the poem? Does the punctuation always coincide with the end of a poetic line? If so, this is called an end-stopped line. If there is no punctuation at the end of a line and the thought continues into the next line, this is called enjambment. Is there any punctuation in the middle of a line? Why do you think the poet would want you to pause halfway through the line? This is called caesura.
Title: What does the title mean? How does it relate to the poem itself?
3. Examine the language of the poem:
Diction or Word Choice: Is the language...