Poetry Analysis Step by Step

Why Read Poems?

Some people say they don’t like poetry, it’s boring or they don’t understand it.  I think poetry is more like a song, the more you hear it the more you like it.  The words are very similar to poetry; in fact we can break down the verses of songs and see the meaning as poetry.

Poetry doesn’t have to be boring; it can also be funny like limericks.

Start with a Step by Step Analysis

Have a look at this Poetry Analysis Step by Step Flow Chart in PowerPoint to show you the way to read and understand a poem.  Follow it below as well with a full explanation of the Poetry Analysis Step by Step.

Poetry Analysis flow chart

1. Read a poem 2 or 3 times

Each time you read a poem you notice different things

When you read the poem a second time you pick up on ideas and themes that you may have missed the first time you read it.  Also the poet can have ideas hidden just below the surface of the words and as you read it again, the new ideas can jump out.

2. Paraphrase the poem by stanza next to the original text

Writing it in your own words is a good idea to make sense of the poem, so you know what it means in simple terms

Stanza means the verses of the poem just like a song

How the poet organises the stanzas in a poem is often an important aspect of the poem’s structure.  Nothing in a poem is by accident.  Poets choose their words carefully as well as giving careful thought to the form and layout of the poem.  You should ask yourself why the poet has done this or that because there will be a reason and there is an effect for everything in a poem.

3. Answer the 5 W’s

Who? Who is the poet referring to?

What? What is the poem about?

Why? Why is the poet writing about it?

When? When is the poem set, the time period?

Where? Where is the poem, the place the poet is taking about, the setting?

4. Identify the theme, message or topic

What is the poet trying to say? What is the poet’s message in the poem?

What is the point? Is the poet trying to make a specific point in the poem?

5. Identify and Highlight Examples of Literary Techniques

Simile

Definition: Simile is when you compare two nouns (persons, places or things) that are unlike, with “like” or “as.” “The water is like the sun.”  “The water is like the sun” is an example of simile because water and the sun have little in common, and yet they’re being compared to one another. The “is” is also part of what makes this stanza an example of simile. “The rain falls like the sun,rising upon the mountains.”

Metaphor

When something is described in terms of something else, ‘her eyes are the stars in the sky’ is a metaphor as one thing her eyes is being described in terms of another thing the stars. Metaphors are comparisons that show how two things that are not alike in most ways are similar in one important way. Metaphors are a way to describe something. Authors use them to make their writing more interesting or entertaining. Unlike similes that use the words “as” or “like” to make a comparison, metaphors state that something is something else.

Imagery

Poets use words to create images in your mind.

Alliteration

This is the repetition of a consonant sound in the words.  For example slippery slithering snake is alliteration.

Personification

This is where human qualities or emotions are given to non human things.  The wind howled in agony all day.  He gazed at the angry sea.

Tone

The overall mood of the poem, the emotions can be sad, optimistic, solemn.

Point of View

From what point of view is the poet writing.

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