Poetry 101: How To Analyse A Poem

Poetry 101: How To Analyse A Poem


We continue our poetry 101 series and discuss how to analyse a poem.

Reading and commenting on a poem is a new adventure for many of us in the 12 Poems in 12 Months Challenge. We are here to learn and grow as writers and poets and we all want to give and receive valuable feedback.  Here are some basic guidelines that I hope will help you.

How To Analyse A Poem

  1. Read the poem.

What are your first impressions? How does it make you feel? What is the tone?

Can you identify a theme? Try to say what the poem is about in one line.

  1. Read it again.

Slow down this time. Are there any identifying features? Is it a specific kind of poem? Sonnet, free verse, or haiku? Count the stanzas and lines.

  1. What is the context of the poem?

Who is the poet and when was it written? What do you know about the poet’s life and work? Was it written at a specific time? Do you need this knowledge to understand the poem?

  1. What does the poem look like?

Has the poet used any typographical devices?

  1. Now, read it aloud again.

Did you notice any sound devices? Alliteration, assonance, rhyme and metre and repetition of sounds.

  1. Diction and sentences:

Have they changed the word order in the sentences? What do the words they chose tell you?

  1. Can you identify any devices used in the poems?

Metaphors and similes, euphemism, hyperbole, symbolism, personification, irony, puns, metonomy etc.

  1. Take note of any layering?

Are there any double meanings? Can you identify any connotations and denotations?

  1. Look at the title again?

Does it add to the meaning of the poem?

It is useful to number the lines of a poem before you start analysing and writing feedback. Use specific examples and as always, be kind.

This is a basic guideline. I’ll be discussing the specific devices and tools as the year progresses.

Types Of Poems:

  1. Poetry 101: Kinds Of Poems: The Ballad
  2. Poetry 101: Kinds Of Poems – The Villanelle
  3. Poetry 101: Kinds Of Poems – The Limerick
  4. Poetry 101: Kinds Of Poems – The Haiku
  5. Poetry 101: Kinds Of Poems – Free Verse
  6. Poetry 101: Kinds Of Poems – The Sonnet

General Posts

  1. Poetry 101: What Is A Poem?
  2. Poetry 101: How To Analyse A Poem
  3. Poetry 101: Creating Figurative Language Using Literary Devices
  4. How To Write And Talk About Poetry When You Don’t Have A Clue
  5. 17 Of The Most Powerful Excerpts From Poetry
  6. 15 Good Reasons To Write Poetry

 by Mia Botha

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This article has 1 comment

  1. Cathy Cade

    That’s helpful. I don’t call my entries poems: they’re merely verse. I don’t have a poetic soul, I’m afraid. But it’s useful to know what I’m looking for in others’ work and, who knows, I might get around to applying some of it to my own.

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