If you are a new student or reviewer approaching your first assignment, you may be wondering how to write a poetry analysis. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to analyze a poem or collection of poetry.
Even if you do not plan on learning
, analyzing your poetry while reading can deepen your appreciation for them.
Poems have many layers of meaning. A particularly beautiful and well-crafted poem becomes more enjoyable as your understanding of the poet's deepens.
Poets often use sound techniques that are easier to detect when reading a poem aloud. Read it once without analytical attention. Consider how you respond to a poem. Start by asking broad and simple questions like: How did it make you feel and what do you think the poet is trying to say?
Write a few notes about your preliminary impression. Analyzing poetry is a repetitive process. You will read the poem several times, and these first impressions can provide interesting clues as to what to focus on in your analysis.
There are many different types of poems, but all poems fall into three main categories: independent, formal, and prose.
Depending on the poem you are reading, you may want to ask yourself some analytical questions. If it is a prose poem, consider what makes that piece a poem. Recognizing a particular poetic form allows you to place the poem in the context in the story.
There is no correct way to mark a poem. You can underline the lines that catch your eye. You can take notes in the margins by looking at the poetic techniques. You can scan the poem, which is a way to mark the letters that are stressed. You may find words that seem important or that stand out.
If you are reviewing an entire collection of poetry, it is a good idea to mark specific motifs or themes. That way, when you finish your first reading, you will be able to find ideas that were apparent in various poems.
Read the poem several times, considering a single poetic technique. For example, free verses and formal poems use line breaks. Once you read the poem, focus on how the poet has broken the lines and the effects of those decisions.
If there are stanzas in the poem, do the same for them. You can repeat this process with any poetic technique.
If you are going through the entire poetry collection, you can follow the steps above for each poem. Then consider how the poet has chosen to organize the poems within the collection. Review the first and last poems; ask yourself how they can serve as an introduction and conclusion to the collection.
Like any other article in literature, you have to make an argument and back it up with evidence. Different readers may have different views on how a poem or collection of poems works, and that's fine, as long as both readers have evidence to support their claims.
Consult your notes, especially your observations of poetic technique. Whenever necessary, quote the exact lines or verses and use them to support your argument.