It seems that reading and analyzing poetry is something like transcribing old languages? I feel you, but don’t you worry, after reading this post you will learn to speak those languages!
Table of Contents
What is the purpose of Poetry Analysis?
So, to put this into simple words, we can compare a reader who analyzes a poem to a mechanic who takes apart a car to figure out how its mechanisms work. So, a reader investigates a poem’s structure, form, content, semiotics, and history behind its writing to have a better understanding of this work of art and to help others understand and appreciate it better too.
Why write these papers?
Poetry itself can have many different forms hence there are different reasons for undertaking a poetry analysis. A reader may analyze a poem to gain a better understanding of author’s thoughts and see what this work had to offer or dive into the context to know how to communicate what he/she learned to others, or to master his own skills. For me, it is like looking at pictures by Raphael, for instance. You can hardly appreciate his art not knowing the historical context, who Raphael is and how and why he decided to draw this exact situation.
What skills do you need to do the analysis? Everything is simple. You are required to have reading and writing skills, nothing unusual. Steps on how to analyze poetry, a little guide for you on where to start and what to write about you will find in the next paragraphs.
What can you write about?
Sometimes teachers give their students an opportunity to choose a poem by themselves while others have pretty strict rules on what you should write about. So if you do have a choice and do not know what to choose, the best advice I can give you is to pick the one that “speaks to you”.
Do not make such mistakes like choosing a short one, because sometimes they can be way harder to analyze; do not pick something that is too easy, because you will not have much to write about and this will not make you any good - you will not understand the full strength and the point of the analysis and your paper will be weak and not convincing at all. It’s like if you have a choice to describe a banana, a mango, and Pandanus. The first one is too easy, the second one is pretty difficult but doable, and the third one..you don’t know what that is? Exactly.
So, just pick something that you understand or can relate to the theme if it and do your best.
How can you get there ( about writing process).
Before you start:
- Silently read a poem. Note what you feel, what some lines or words make you think about, for example, if you see a word “beret”, does it make you think about France or maybe it brings back some memories about your travels? Note what you like or dislike. This will help you to understand what an author tried to convey through his work. All the lines that you did not understand you should be read again.
- After that read a poem out loud, paying attention to all the stops, listen to the sound and tone of it. Read it couple times more, make sure you understand the literal meaning of it. Get some background on the poet. Now try to find figurative How noticeable are the differences in reading out loud and silently? All commas and points should be taken as pauses. The poet uses punctuation for a reason: it is entrusted with an important mission. Each line break, spaces or omissions between words and lines should be understood as pauses. Slow down the tempo of reading and make short stops. If the poem is popular enough, then try to find the audio recordings of this verse. Listen to it and follow the text with your eyes. Do not rely solely on sound perception.
- Analyze the rhythm and the size of a poem. Are there rhymes used in the poem? Does the poet rhyme every last word in a line? Every other line? Analyze the scheme of rhyme to determine the form of the poem. It is the structure of rhymes that allows us to understand the form of the verse. For example, a blank verse does not have rhymes at all. There will be two lines with or without a rhyme in a couplet and a tercet will have three line stanzas also with or without a rhyme.
- Take a look at stanza structure or style of a poem. There might be free verses, so it’s okay if you don’t find one. What kind of division is used, if there is one at all? The poem can be divided into stanzas (for example, a stanza of four lines) or simply consist of a certain number of lines ordered by rhyme or size.
- Identify the speaker. Remember that it doesn’t have to be a human only. It may be an animal, object, or something abstract like anger, love, hate etc.
- Now take a look at literary devices. In the context of the form of the poem, poets use various literary techniques that allow you to put a deeper meaning in the verse and create more detailed images. Popular literary devices are rhymes, onomatopoeia, alliteration, assonance and consonance, hyperbole, personification, alliteration, metonymy and synecdoche. Analyze all the literary devices and think what effect they have on the general meaning of the poem.
- Rhymes are a repetition of the final sounds in words (for example, "cat" and "sat"). This technique can be used both within a single line and at the end of two separate lines.
- Onomatopoeia is when the word’s pronunciation mimics its sound (for example, "buzzing" of a bee).
- Alliteration is the repetition of the beginning consonant sounds (for example, "How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood.").
- Assonance - the repetition of vowel sounds in any part of the word (for example, "Hear the mellow wedding bells").
- Consonance is the repetition of a vowel sound at the end of several words (for example, "It will creep and beep while you sleep").
- Metaphor is the comparison of objects or phenomena in a figurative sense ("the curtain of night").
- Simile - comparing one thing to another using “like” or “as” (for example, "Her cheeks are red like a rose").
- Identify the form of the poem. After analyzing the size, structure and scheme of rhyme, identify the form of the poem. There are various poetic forms: elegies, acrostics, cinquain, epic poems, sonnets, ballads, haiku, limericks, blank verse, sestinas and villanelles. It is important to determine the form of the poem in order to better understand the text and to grasp the poet's intention. Read examples of different poetic forms so you will not make a mistake in the definition. You can also explore the distinctive features of a particular form.
What it looks like (outline).
- Write an attention-getter, in other words, some question, fact or quote.
- Name an author and a title of the poem you chose.
- Write a thesis statement that will name the key elements of the analysis.
In main body mention:
- Literal and figurative meaning and about the theme of the poem.
- The tone of the poem. Who is speaking, what are his feelings, what are the proofs that he feels this way?
- Figures of Speech. What they compare, reveal, why did a poet decide to use those?
- Sound Effects. What are they and why are they used?
- Find the symbols and identify what they represent.
- Repeat what you wrote in the thesis but in different words.
- Summarize main points.
- Tell if we can relate this poem to our lives, broader themes, what can we learn from it.
Poetry Analysis Help
In case you still feel lost here is a couple of some useful thing, that may help you
- If you can’t come up with a topic idea for your essay, I feel you here too, that is probably one of the biggest problems for me. I usually use Essay Topic Generator, that’s been saving me for quite some time now.
- To get a better understanding of the structure of the essay, you can go ahead and see some Essay Examples, but do not just rewrite from there.
- When you are done with the essay, take a few minutes to check it for plagiarism, fix style and readability level and correct text relevance to the essay question if needed.
- If you notice that your essay is not in its best form still, I can suggest you using Essay Editing Service. This way you will be a 100 percent sure that you have done everything you could and now your essay is just perfect.
- If writing an essay on a specific course is not your priority, check ou our Essay Writing Service. This will bring 500+ professional essay writers your way. You can talk to the ones you like and have your writing job outsourced.
So, I hope this post was interesting and, what is more important, useful. Now you know how to structure your poetry analysis paper and what to write about. I wish you luck in your future essays and I hope will get straight A’s!