A Few Suggestions
You will often need to analyze a poem to understand its meaning and the emotion it conveys. analyzing or deconstructing a poem also shows you how the poet composed his poem. Knowing how the poet uses certain poetic devices—such as simile, metaphor, alliteration–will help you to create your own poetry. There are many ways to analyze a poem. Here is one method:
1. Read the poem a several times. Ask yourself the following:
What is the significance of the title?
What is the subject?
What does the content tell you about the theme?
2. Read the poem aloud. Ask yourself the following:
How does it sound?
What meaning can you interpret from the sound of the poem when you read it out loud?
Is there are rhyme scheme?
Is there meter?
Is there rhythm?
3. Read the poem again, paraphrasing each line and stanza. What is the content of the poem?
4. Determine the structure of the poem?
- Is it free verse or metrical verse?
- What type of punctuation is used?
- Is there a rhyme scheme?
5. Review the content.
- What is the poet attempting to tell you?
- What is the subject, argument, theme, main point?
- What conclusion can you draw?
6. Look for symbols. Is the poet using symbolism to communicate meaning?
7. Imagery is a common poetic device used by poets to extend meaning. Ask yourself the following:
- What imagery is the poet using?
- Are there any metaphors?
- Does the poet use simile to add meaning?
- Does the poet use hyperbole for emphasis?
8. Review the poet’s choice of words. Ask yourself the following:
- What descriptive language is the poet using to communicate meaning?
- Why is certain language used?
- How is it used to extend the meaning?
- What is the connotation?
- Are words repeated for emphasis?
- Are words isolated on a line for emphasis?
9. The sound of a poem is just as important to the meaning of a poem as its content. After reading the poem aloud, ask yourself the following:
- Does the poet use alliteration?
- Does the poet use assonance?
- Does the poet use onomatopoeia?
10. A poet composes his or her poem within a certain context. His experiences, education, and socialization contribute to what the poet is inspired to write about. Ask yourself the following:
- When was the poem written?
- What were the political, historical, and social conditions of this time period?
- What events might have inspired the poet to write the poem?
- What does the poet’s biography reveal about his poetry?
11. After deconstructing the poem, evaluate it. Ask yourself the following:
What did you enjoy about the poem? Why? Why not?
- Did the poem evoke an emotional response?
- What is your impression?
- Do you recommend it?