Want to learn how to analyze a poem? This simple step-by-step method of breaking down a poem lends itself to an easy report format, perfect for any school project or your own personal analysis of a poem.
To get started, take a piece of notebook paper and divide it into three columns. Write the following headers at the top of each column: "General Information," "First Impressions" and "Second Take."
Read the Poem Silently
When reading a poem for the first time, look for the content of the poem. Jot down your first impressions of the poem, including what the poem seems to be about. Put these thoughts in your First Impressions column.
Read the Poem out Loud
When you read the poem out loud, you will notice rhythm, syntax and meter. Jot down any general observations about the poem in your Second Take column.
Use these first two columns to help you create your introductory paragraph about the poem. Describe your observations in generic terms, and explain that you will go into further detail in your paper.
Now go back through the poem and write out the answers to the following questions in the General Information column:
When analyzing poems, it can be very helpful to look at other poems published at the same time, or at literary criticism of poetry. Sometimes these other sources reveal meanings hidden inside a poem. Feel free to speculate about these in your paper, as long as you can back up your statements with examples or quotes. You may just find something new that spurs great discussion.
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