Poetry analysis is the process of investigating a poem's form, content, structural semiotics and history in an informed way, with the aim of heightening one's own and others' understanding and appreciation of the work. That is, a poem is a made thing : a creation; an artifact. One might think of a poem as, in the words of William Carlos Williams , [ full citation needed ] a "machine made of words". Machines produce some effect, or do some work. They do whatever they are designed to do.
For me, writing is exploration; and most of the time, I'm surprised where the journey takes me. To analyze a poem, you must break it down into all its important elements and explain how they work together to create an effect or reinforce a meaning. You may, for example, be required to do research in order to incorporate the opinion of literary critics into your own analysis. Or you may be asked to present only your own interpretation. This handout will help you break down a poem into its key elements and get you started on writing a thesis.
Poetry is a compact language that expresses complex feelings. To understand the multiple meanings of a poem, readers must examine its words and phrasing from the perspectives of rhythm, sound, images, obvious meaning, and implied meaning. Readers then need to organize responses to the verse into a logical, point-by-point explanation. A good beginning involves asking questions that apply to most poetry.
Help your students get the most out of poetry with these six practical steps. Happy National Poetry Month! Check out these six ways to analyze a poem. Have your students read the poem once to themselves and then aloud, all the way through, at LEAST twice. Feel free to play a recording of the poem or show a video of someone reading the poem, too.