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How To Write A Quality Poetry Analysis Essay In A Proper Way

Poetry is wonderful, but sometimes it is difficult to 'translate', partly because it may have been written in a time when words and sentence construction may have been slightly different to today – Shakespeare may have different qualities and imagery in comparison to Yeats or Larkin.

The pressure is on to write an analysis of a poem. So, here is a plan.

  1. Read – for Reactions
    • Read the poem. Now re-read the poem more slowly. Make a note of any ideas that immediately come to mind.
    • Now read the poem again this time – make a note of what you feel (like or dislike) about the poem, refer to your previous notes. This gives you an idea of the reaction the poet was trying to evoke in the reader.
  2. Read for Literal Meaning
    • On this reading you need to look at the Literal meaning of the poem. Think of how this may translate into a conversation – how would you describe the story to a friend?
  3. Read for Connotative Meaning
    • Look for the key words and consider their meaning.
    • Decide why those particular key words were used. Were they used to play on the emotions of the reader?
  4. Look for Symbolism
    • What do you think that the poet was actually referring to through the representations?
  5. Goal seeking
    • What was the poet trying to say? What was the purpose of the poem?
  6. Identify the Poetic Tools
    • Now you have looked at the poem as a whole – you need to start analysing in more depth.
    • Poetic tools include the tone of the poem and its intended audience.
    • Is the speaker of the poem actually the poet or someone else? Is the speaker addressing a particular group of people or one person in particular?
  7. Structure and Organisation
    • Is it a story or is the poem a group or progression of ideas? Does each stanza take on one independent idea or does the theme flow throughout the poem?
    • Make a note in your essay of the physical structure of the poem.
  8. Rhyming Scheme
    • There are several types of rhyming schemes. Some will enhance the poem by giving it a musical rhythm, others will help deepen the meaning or place emphasis on the theme.
    • For impact the end rhyme may differ from the rhyme of the main part of the poem.
    • Are the rhymes 'true' rhymes or are they 'off-rhymes'.
  9. Other Poetic Devices
    • Identify tools such as alliteration, assonance, metaphor, simile and personification.
    • Determine whether the use of these tools have helped or hindered the poet in his work.
  10. Drawing conclusions
    • Did the poet achieve his goal? Did the tools that he used benefit the quality of the poem?

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