You might read a poem, shed a couple of tears and conclude: “This poem is about hope. I really like it.” So, your poetry analysis essay is done. Right? Wrong! If you are overwhelmed with emotions and cannot find the words or simply want to discover a simple but effective method of poetry analysis, check this guide to ensure your success in Literature courses.
Poetry analysis: main components
Poetry analysis answers several important questions:
- What is the meaning of the poem?
- What tools did the author use?
- What is your impression as a reader?
The main components of poetry analysis are your interpretation of poet’s messages and a detailed discussion of the poem’s form, imagery and language devices. You may find more details, terms and even valuable phrases for your poetry analysis essay in the following sections.
Poetry analysis: interpretation
A clear understanding of the poem is essential to its analysis. To analyze a poem, you should:
- Read the poem at least twice;
- Consult a dictionary if there are any unknown words;
- Define the main theme and the rest of the plot lines;
- Paraphrase the poem, using your own words;
- Evaluate the author’s tone and attitude.
Some valuable phrases you may use for this part are (just complete these sentences):
- The interpretations of the poem (title) by (author) vary from reader to reader, but the main theme deals with…
- In the first two lines of the poem, the author presents…
- However, in the next stanza, the author states that…
- The main idea of this poem is that…
Poetry analysis: form
Most poets are geniuses and can find not only rhymes, but also special forms to make their poems work better. When writing an analysis of poetry, make sure to mention the following aspects:
- Rhyme scheme;
For instance, you may want to take a closer look at the form of the poem Hope Is the Thing with Feathers by Emily Dickinson:
Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,
And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.
I’ve heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.
Here is a poetry analysis example: There are three stanzas in this poem. The first line of the first and second stanzas rhymes with the third line, whereas the second line rhymes with the fourth one. A bit different scheme is found in the third stanza in which the second, third and fourth lines rhyme with each other, but the first one is isolated. The rhyming scheme of this poem is: ABAB CDCD EFFF.
Poetry analysis: sound devices
Check the poem for sound devices:
- Alliteration (repetition of the initial sounds in the neighboring words in a line or passage). For example, an alliteration can be found in the line “sore must be the storm” of Dickinson’s poem.
- Assonance (relatively close position of the same or similar vowels). For example, in Dickinson’s poem: “Yet, never in extremity”.
- Onomatopoeia (imitation of the nature or animal sounds), such as cuckoo, tick-tock, knock-knock and others.
Poetry analysis: stylistic devices
Stylistic devices are the tools used by poets, such as:
- Simile (a comparison using like or as). For example: “O my love is like a red, red rose” in the poem by Robert Burns of the same name.
- Metaphor (a direct comparison, not using like or as). For example, in Dickinson’s poem “Hope is the thing with feathers/ That perches in the soul”.
- Hyperbole (exaggeration). For example, in Dickinson’s poem: “and never stops at all”.
- Oxymoron (two contradictory words put together). For example: hot ice, bitter sweet.
Some valuable phrases you may use for this part are:
- This comparison suggests that…
- This metaphor offers the reader a view of…
So, taking these easy steps, you will successfully analyze poetry and impress your instructors. With this poetry analysis worksheet and some practice, you will ensure your success in Literature courses.