How to Write a Poetry Essay
A poetry essay evaluates a poem. It analyzes the words, sounds, feelings and topics that the poet uses in the poem. A poetry essay should include analysis of the topic, message, rhythm and word choice. It should have both an introduction and a conclusion.
Introduce your poem with an introductory paragraph. Write the title of the poem and its author. Give a brief summary of the poem’s contents. A brief summary on Edgar Allen Poe's "The Raven," for example, would state that the speaker of the poem is longing for his lost love and becomes beguiled by a raven that speaks only one word, "nevermore."
Write about the poetic language and imagery. Does the poet use precise and vivid vocabulary to create detailed images? What literary devices are used to enhance meanings? Answer these questions by explaining and analyzing specific examples from the poem. Tell how the poet creates those images. A good example of this would be the poetry essay found at Bookstove.com. The poetry essay analyzes Poe's use of simile and metaphor in "The Raven."
Write about sound and sense. Does the poet use rhythm and meter to create meaningful sounds in the poem? Which word sounds does the poet use to create pictures? Does the poet use vocabulary that appeals to the five senses? Answer these questions by explaining in your poetry essay how the poet’s choice of words creates meaningful sound. For example, a poetry essay on Poe's "Raven" would show how the ABCBBB rhyme scheme helps to create a deeper sense of melancholy.
Write about emotion and feeling. Is the poet creating a feeling or mood? Does the poem evoke an emotional response? Answer these questions in your poetry essay by explaining what kind of response the poet is trying to evoke in his audience. A poetry essay on "The Raven" would describe how the use of melancholy word choices and repetition, coupled with the creepy raven and mourning for the lost Lenore, create a deep sense of sadness and despair for the reader.
Write a conclusion to your poetry essay. Explain the author’s intent with the poem and whether or not he or she achieved that goal. Support your opinion with details from the poem.
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