tips for poetry analysis

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tips for poetry analysis

Postby rita » Mon Jan 23, 2006 5:51 pm

Hello all!

I'm starting to fail miserably because I just can't seem to follow the steps required to analyse a poem(I also can't seem to remember the proper terminology, so that I may know I'm looking what I'm looking at is a simele or a metaphor but during the test my mind will go blank and I won't remember what these are...)

Does anyone here have a fail proof, step by step method for analysing a poem.

Does anyone have a fail proof method for analysing Blake( my teacher comes up with some rather unorthodox interpretations and justifies the oddness of her interpretation by saying that Blake was such a genius he is bound to be perpetually misunderstood,, particularly by modern day teens...)

step one( the only one I currently master) would be something like read the poem carefully several times...

any tips would be most appreciated

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Postby fuzzy » Mon Jan 23, 2006 9:30 pm

1) Master the jargon. If you went over what similies etc are in class, look over your notes.

2) Yeah, reading the poem always helps, heehee!!

3) I always used to anaylse poetry line by line- look out for the symbolic meanings behind stuff.

4) Apply the jargon to the poem; identify the similies, metaphors, alliterataion (eg- 'roaring rascal') etc

Hope this helps! :D
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Postby david456 » Mon Jan 23, 2006 11:52 pm

Providing you can back up your views with the poems lines, then you can't be wrong as it's your interpretation of things.

Fuzzy is right "identify the similies, metaphors, alliterataion (eg- 'roaring rascal') etc " If you are unsure on what these are type them into Google. I must admit. I didn't find poetry easy.
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Postby Thirteen-thirty-seven » Wed Jan 25, 2006 2:36 pm

Hello. I am also studying Blake at the moment. I can give you my opinion on particular poems if tell me which ones. Vicky (parnassus) will be more than willing to help you, as well.

For general advice on poetry analysis, there is abook called "The Ode Less travelled" by Stephen Fry. The main purpose of this book is to teach people to wtrite poetry. However, it is also helpful if you want to understand poetry. It is available both as a book and as a CD audiobook.
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Postby parnassus » Fri Feb 17, 2006 12:37 pm

I'm sorry, Rita, but this is the first time I've come across this thread! :oops:

Here are questions I try to answer when analysing poetry:

On the simplest level, what is this poem actually about? What kind of poem is it - an epic, a sonnet, a haiku? What is the metre?

Why has the poet chosen to write about this subject? If it is a very odd topic, could he be using it as a metaphor for something else? Are his motives political? Religious? Why has he chosen to use the metre and pattern of lineation that he has?

How does form cohere with content? This is an extension of the last 'why' question. How exactly does that precise line break, that unusually positioned comma, contribute to the poem's meaning? Is the effect semantic or purely prosodic?


When was the poem born? This question is not important for all poems - only for those that emerge from a particularly interesting historical context, or a pivotal moment in the poet's life, that may have shaped his writing.

It is important to identify things such as similes and metaphors, but only if you can do something with them and make them support your argument. It is not enough to say, "The fourth line is especially alliterative." That is only the what and a little bit of the how. Go on to talk about the effect the alliteration produces and why the poet may have chosen to use it. Don't aim to include as much specialist literary terminology if it isn't relevant to your analysis.

I always used to anaylse poetry line by line- look out for the symbolic meanings behind stuff.

This is only half of it. Poems can be dissected in this way, but you should also look for overarching meanings - sometimes a poet will use sustained metaphor, beginning in line six and finishing with the very last word of the poem. If you focus on each microscopic element of the poem you will miss the bigger picture. Take 'close ups', but make sure you view the poem from a distance as well.
"This above all, to thine own self be true." - Polonius, Hamlet.
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Postby rita » Sun Feb 26, 2006 11:22 pm

I'm sorry, Rita, but this is the first time I've come across this thread! :oops:

I forgive you most wholeheartedly! but do provide tips on essay writing thread!

Takk :)
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Postby Vez » Thu Apr 13, 2006 12:24 am

I used this system to make sure I'd got a good structure when analysing poetry - STIRRED

S is for Structure - is the poem a sonnet or have some other structure that's relevant? If not then leave this step out.

T is for Theme - What's the poem about?

I is for Imagery - What images and descriptions does the poet use? What do they symbolise.

R is for Rhyme - Does the poem rhyme? Why or why not?

R is for Rhythm - Does the rythm of the poem have any significance eg. a poem about a train sounding like a train.

E is for Emotion - What is the poet trying to make you feel and how does he/she do this?

D is for Diction - This is about the choice of words the poet uses. What do the words symbolise/mean?

There you go STIRRED. I used it all the way through GCSE with success and my cousin used it at degree level. You don't always have to use every part of it but it makes a good starting place.[/i]
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Postby dragoneatscheese » Sat Mar 24, 2007 12:30 pm

using flash cards help but reading the poam is always helpful ... iterature/
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Postby JamieB2712 » Sun Mar 25, 2007 9:05 pm

I still don't know the difference between a Simile and a Metaphor and overuse Juxtaposition, perhaps wrongly. Yet I got One of the Top 5 marks in the country in my GCSE. I think if you are creative and you can back up your analysis you should be okay when doing the poetry part of your exam
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