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Six Steps to Help Analyze a Poem

Six Steps to Help Analyze a Poem

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Six Steps to Help Analyze a Poem

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  1. Six Steps to Help Analyze a Poem

  2. Step 1: Consider the Title • The poem’s title is the author’s first communication with the reader; therefore, spend a moment considering what meaning the poet is suggesting by their choice of words. • What images or pictures come to mind? What do you expect from the title?

  3. Step 2: Study the form of the poem on the page • Is the poem arranged in stanzas? • Is there anything to note about the stanza arrangement (how long they are, etc.)? • Is there anything to note about the length of the lines? • Look at capitalization? • Look at punctuation that is used. • Look for any end rhymes - is the author making certain connections between words?

  4. Step 3: Read the poem aloud. • Listen to the sounds. Are the sounds smooth or harsh? Do you have any emotional reaction to particular words or sounds? • Repetition: Do you hear any repetition of particular sounds? What might the poet be trying to communicate through the repetition?

  5. Step 3: Read the poem aloud, cont’d. • Listen to the rhythm of the poem.Is there a standard rhythmical pattern? Is there a recurring beat or rhythm? What’s the emotional reaction to the rhythm? • Listen for any internal rhyme.(Internal rhyme is when a word within a line rhymes with the word at the end of the line.) Is there a connection between the words which are being rhymed? What might it be? • First Impressions: Do you have any first impressions of the poem’s subject matter and tone from the oral reading?

  6. Step 4: Second Reading! (if you are done with steps 1-3 then you are ready for thorough reading of the poem) • In poetry there is an economy of words and often times there is a masking of the meaning. • To uncover the meaning - we need to read carefully: • Read the poem line by line. • Read sentence by sentence (if there are sentences) • Consider ALL the possible meanings of the words • Remember, the poet has chosen words consciously to reveal greatest meaning in fewest words; therefore, you must read precisely and thoroughly to understand their ideas. • Consider each stanza as a unit. What divisions has the poet made in their subject matter? What is the relationship between the ideas in each stanza?

  7. Step 5: Analyze the entire poem. • Consider the entire poem as a unit, recalling what insights you have gained from Steps 1-4. • What is the poet’s intention? What vision did they present in the poem? What idea did the poet convey? What meaning does the poem have? • What is the total effect of the poem?

  8. Step 6: Evaluation of the poem. • Evaluate the poem objectively. Try to distance yourself. Avoid personal prejudices. Is the poem well written? Does the poet use their language and form effectively in communicating their ideas? • Evaluate the poem subjectively. This is your personal response to the idea, form, and sound of the poem. Did you like the poem? Did the poet communicate something which was relevant to you?