Poetry Analysis: Guide To Analyze A Poem Successfully

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Are you given a poetry analysis essay assignment? Do you find it challenging? Poetry analysis is a difficult task, compared to analyzing a movie or other types of text. This is because the poem contains emotions, meanings, and connotations that are not revealed by simply reading it once. To truly understand the depth of a poem, one should read it several times. 

However, just reading without knowing how to discover the meaning can be tiring. Thus, to make the process easy, we have provided some tips and steps to help you in analyzing a poem. This article will discuss the definition of poetry analysis and give valuable guidance to get you started.

What Does Poetry Analysis Mean?

In simple terms, poetry analysis is the process of analyzing or examining a piece of the poem and its various other components to comprehend its literary brilliance. Elaborating further, it is a critical review of a poem that explains its depth. A poetry analysis essay assignment is usually common in English classes.

The main objective of writing a poem analysis is to investigate the poem deeply and understand its finer details and nuances.

What Aspects Of The Poem Does The Poetry Analysis Essay Examine?

The poetry analysis essay examines various facets of a poem, such as:

  • The subject of the poem
  • Theme
  • Tone
  • Speech figures (literary devices)
  • Hidden meanings

Apart from these aspects, the essay will also talk about the poet’s feelings or state of mind, the poet’s background, and the poem’s intention, among other things. This essay gives a detailed account of the techniques used by the poet and provides a deep and elaborate picture of the poem’s analysis.

Note: Before analyzing the poem, one must research the poet, the poet’s era, the time frame when the poem was written, the background of the poem, and the reasons behind its conceptualization.

Prerequisites Before Writing The Poetry Analysis Essay

Analyzing a poem is a huge task and one must not hurry into it at the first chance. There are specific steps that one must perform before analyzing the poem:

  • Understanding the history: The first step before analyzing the poem is to gather as much information as possible about the poem. You may look up specific details of the poet, the time frame of the poem (when it was composed), and the poem’s context (cultural, historical, social, etc.).
  • Reading the poem thoroughly: Read and re-read the poem to absorb the essence of the poem and uncover its numerous aspects, such as poetic techniques that are employed, poem type, etc. Furthermore, explore the various techniques, such as meter, enjambment, figurative language, end-stopped lines, etc. Here are some types of poems for your reference:
  • Ode: It’s a ten-line stanza structure that has a rhyming wherein the 8th line is an iambic trimeter and all the others iambic pentameter.
  • Limerick: It is a 5-line stanza poem where the first, second, and fifth lines rhyme and have three feet of three syllables each. The shorter third and fourth lines also rhyme but have only two feet of three syllables.
  • Lyric: This is a short non-narrative poem where the poet exhibits an emotional state of mind. There is no story in the poem but thoughts that are presented in a specific rhyming style.
  • Sonnet: This is a 14-line poem in iambic pentameter.
  • Free-verse: This poem has no rhyme scheme or regular rhythm.
  • Haiku: This Japanese-based poem has a three-line with 17 syllables in a 5/7/5 syllable count.

One must comprehend the poem type as it helps in knowing the poem’s structure. Apart from these, gather some information on the poem’s subject matter, meaning, tone, intention, and mood. Also, write down your first impression that was formed upon reading the poem. Once you gather specific ideas about the poetry, start analyzing the following deeply:

  • Title: Observe the title and see what it reveals. Do you feel sad after reading the title? Does the title project a period or action? Determine the literature style used here and try deciphering what the poem conveys through the title.
  • Literal meaning: Understand the literal meaning of every word used in the poem using a dictionary. Please note that certain words have multiple meanings, so understand every meaning. It’s also possible that some old poems used extinct words; thus, try to piece together their meanings as well.
  • Poem structure: See how the lines or stanzas are organized and determine what each section says.
  • Poem purpose: Identify the subject of the poem to reveal its purpose. Analyze the relationship between the theme and subject. Check if the meaning of the poem stands true through the test of time.
  • Symbols and poetic devices: Look for connotative meaning in the poem. Determine the pictures described, check the symbolism used, and identify the metaphors, similes, alliteration, personification, etc., that are used.

Poem Analysis: How To Select A Poem?

If you are given the option of choosing a poem for analysis, choose the one that you are familiar with. It may be advantageous to select a poem you have previously encountered. Writing about a familiar poem is less difficult than analyzing a completely new one. Thus, you can confidently and clearly express your views on the poem.

Outline Of A Poetry Analysis Essay

The structure (outline) of a poetry analysis essay is similar to that of other types of essays, with three main sections – the introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion. Here is the outline that you can follow while writing your analysis essay:

Introduction

  • Title
  • Background information
  • Thesis statement

Body paragraphs

  • Determine the meaning and message of the poem
  • Check the tone, speaker, and recipient
  • Explore the symbolism, poetic devices, and language used
  • Analyze the sound and rhyme scheme of the poem

Conclusion

  • Restate the thesis statement
  • Provide a summary of all significant points
  • Conclude with a thought-provoking sentence

You can follow this poem analysis outline to carry out your poetry analysis. Let us look at each section below:

Introduction

Start your introduction with a title and include a strong hook sentence in the first line to engage the reader. Proceed further by providing interesting background information about the poem and poet that evokes curiosity in the reader. Keep the information concise without going into details, and end the section with a solid thesis statement.

Body

State all your major arguments and points in this section. Refer to the outline template and dedicate each paragraph to one major point as given in the outline. Discuss the poetic devices, imagery, symbolism, theme, and other factors here. Be logical, coherent, and specific with your arguments and comparison.

This section can be as long as one page depending on the poem. Use appropriate transition phrases to maintain the flow between paragraphs. Also, ensure to use neutral words with no dramatic words or expressions.

Conclusion

Restate your thesis statement in this section with different words. Give a summary of all major points and essential findings to support your thesis statement. Use one vital sentence or idea to prove your point. Discuss your interpretation of the poem and conclude the essay with a thought-provoking question or sentence about the poem.

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Tips For Writing A Poetry Analysis

Here are some handy tips that you can use while writing your analysis of a poem:

  1. Try to select a poem that you know and like to talk about (if you have a choice).
  2. Understand the context of the poem before writing the essay.
  3. Comprehend the meaning of every word used in the poem.
  4. Analyze the hidden meanings used in the poem by reading between the lines.
  5. Do not be one-directional in your poetry analysis.
  6. Avoid using complex words or phrases; instead, employ simple language.
  7. Write your analysis from the third-person point of view (never use the poet’s view) to sound neutral.
  8. Ensure that each paragraph does not go beyond six lines.

Poetry Analysis Essay Example

Annabel Lee

Annabel Lee, by Edgar Allan Poe, was written in 1849 and first published after the author’s death. It is a beautiful tale of true love that transcends life. The poem reminisces about a girl named Annabel Lee, who has been known to the narrator since his childhood. Annabel Lee speaks about the deep love between the narrator and Annabel. Despite their young age, the love between them was so strong that even angels were jealous. The poem concludes on a sad note when young Annabel Lee is buried in a tomb. One gets the impression that the narrator loved her even after her death.

Conclusion

A poem is not your typical literary text; however, you must approach it as academic writing when analyzing it. Though it sounds complicated to analyze poetry, you can easily accomplish the task with the tips given in this article. Remember to read some poem analysis examples to get an idea and start practicing writing analysis to deliver a successful essay.

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