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How to Make an Analysis of a Poem


Many people say they don't like poetry because they don't understand it. Though poems have a basic story or message, there is often an underlying story or message that has to be analyzed by examining the poem. Once you analyze the poem, you will have a better understanding of it, and may find that you appreciate and enjoy poetry more than you thought you did.

Read the poem aloud. Write a few notes that explain the basic story of the poem. In order to understand the deeper meaning of the poem, you have to first understand the basic story.

Read the poem again. Write a few notes about your emotional impression of the poem and how it makes you feel. Your personal reaction and personal experiences contribute to your analysis of a poem.

Identify the speaker of the poem. A poem is not always written from the point of view of the poet. Identifying the speaker can help you understand the perspective of the poem.

Make some notes about the tone of the poem. The tone is how the poet deals with the poem. It's expressed as an emotion. For example, tone may be mournful, happy, playful or ironic.

Write a sentence or two explaining any themes in the poem. A theme is an abstract idea the poem centers around or is a recurring idea in it. For example, one theme in Shakespearean sonnets is love.

Make some notes about any symbolism that appears in the poem. A symbol is something that represents something else in the poem. For example, winter can symbolize the end of life.

Examine the language of the poem. The way poets use language can affect the analysis of a poem. Word choice, syntax, punctuation and figures of speech are all used to create the poem. How the poet uses them can help you understand the poem better.

Make notes about the imagery in the poem. Poetry is about experience, and poets use imagery to give you the experience they have when writing it. Imagery uses all five senses, and how you react to a poem's imagery affects your overall impression of it.

Examine the structure of the poem. This includes the meter and rhyme scheme of the poem, if either are present. For example, a Shakespearean sonnet has three stanzas of four lines and a final couplet. The first and third lines of each stanza rhyme, the second and fourth lines of each stanza rhyme and the two lines of the couplet rhyme.

Examine the genre of the poem. It may be a sonnet, haiku, epic or ode. The genre the poet chooses contributes to the overall experience of the poem.

Study the poet's life. A poet often uses her own life experiences as a foundation for writing. Learning about the life of the poet may help you better understand the poem.

About the Author

Nicole Palmby began writing professionally in 2007. She has written for MacMurray College and has experience writing about education, sewing and crafts, health care and religious topics. Palmby holds a Bachelor of Science in English (creative writing) from MacMurray College.

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