How to Analyze a Poem With Imagery
Imagery represents the descriptive elements of the poem. The descriptions are not only visual, they can also appeal to all the senses. Imagery makes the reader become emotionally involved with the poem and attached to its subject matter. In analyzing its imagery, you should examine the poem’s figurative language and see how it complements its tone, mood and theme.
Imagery is the way the poet uses figures of speech to construct a vivid mental picture or physical sensation in the mind of the reader. In order to analyze a poem with imagery, you should read the poem and take note of the types of imagery that the poem expresses. It is important to keep in mind that a poem is not limited to only visual imagery, but will also likely have imagery that appeals to the reader’s other senses.
Imagery can be divided into different categories, according to which sense it appeals to. In addition to visual imagery, which creates pictures in the reader’s mind, a poet may use auditory, olfactory and tactile imagery, which appeal to the reader’s senses of hearing, smell and touch, respectively. Furthermore, gustatory imagery appeals to the reader’s sense of taste, and kinetic imagery conveys some sense of motion.
Take Note of the Figurative Language
After noting the types of imagery that a poem expresses, you should examine the poem’s figurative language. Figurative language is a kind of rearrangement or unconventional way of saying things, and it is also another word for imagery. Figurative language comes in a variety of forms such as analogy, simile, metaphor, personification and extended metaphor. These forms are tools that the poet uses to actually construct the vivid picture of the physical sensation in the reader’s mind.
Examine the Purpose of the Figurative Language
The final step of analyzing a poem with imagery is to examine how the poem’s figurative language functions within the poem. Poetry uses many types of figurative language in order to add substance and meaning to a conventional idea or concept. In particular, it often complements and emphasizes the poem’s other important aspects, such as its tone, mood and theme.
In “Daffodils,” William Wordsworth paints a visual picture in the mind of the reader, using a lot of descriptive language about daffodils, the sky and the hills. In particular, he writes, “I wander'd lonely as a cloud/ That floats on high o'er vale and hills,/ When all at once I saw a crowd,/ A host of golden daffodils.” The first line uses personification and a simile, making the speaker a cloud. The images of daffodils and Wordsworth’s use of figurative language reinforces the poem’s theme: nature’s ability to awaken the individual from his dreary life and remind him of the grace and beauty of nature.
Kate Prudchenko has been a writer and editor for five years, publishing peer-reviewed articles, essays, and book chapters in a variety of publications including Immersive Environments: Future Trends in Education and Contemporary Literary Review India. She has a BA and MS in Mathematics, MA in English/Writing, and is completing a PhD in Education.