Poetry Analysis: How to Analyze a Poem
Every author and poet has their own unique style that cannot be replicated. Based on how they think or what they are trying to portray, they create various poems to explore several ideas or theories that were on their mind.
By mastering how to analyze poetry, you also learn how to ask questions, see multiple meanings in simple things, and develop figurative thinking. Let’s give your brain a boost! Discover how to write poetry analysis from our blog post.
What Is a Poetry Analysis?
Poetry analysis is the process of reviewing the multiple artistic, functional, and structural pieces that make up a poem. Typically, this review is conducted and recorded within the structure of a literary analysis essay.
The nature of poetry is expressing complex feelings, which usually makes multiple meanings. To understand them, you must examine not only words, but also rhythm, images, obvious meaning, and implied meaning.
Writing a poem analysis essay requires one to take a more in-depth look at both the choices that a poet made and the overall effects of those choices. These papers need a detailed analysis of all of the parts that were used to form a work of poetry.
4 Pre-Writing Steps to Take
Read the Poem Carefully
It is essential to reread the analyzed poetry several times to get a full grasp of the numerous ideas and concepts. This also gives you an opportunity to make a note of the rhyme scheme (if there is one), the type of poem (limerick, ode, sonnet, lyric, haiku, free verse, etc.) and other poetic techniques that the poet used (such as enjambment, meter, end-stopped lines, figurative language, etc.).
- Limerick: Limerick is a stanza of five lines, with the first, second and fifth rhyming with one another and having three feet of three syllables each; and the shorter third and fourth lines also rhyme with each other, but having only two feet of three syllables.
- Ode: Its structure — 10-line stanzas rhyming, with the 8th line iambic trimeter and all the others iambic pentameter
- Sonnet: A fourteen-line poem written in iambic pentameter. Was made famous by non-other than Shakespeare! (Shakespeare invented the word "swag"... just saying)
- Lyric: A lyric poem is a comparatively short, non-narrative poem in which a single speaker presents a state of mind or an emotional state. Rather than tell a story, the speaker talks about his thoughts using a specific rhyming style.
- Haiku: Invented by the Japanese, a haiku is a three-line poem with seventeen syllables, written in a 5/7/5 syllable count.
- Free-Verse: Rather simple, free verse is poetry that does not rhyme or have a regular rhythm.
All of those elements of the poem are essential to know when one is writing a poetry analysis essay because they are a part of the poem’s structure and can affect the content.
Learn About the Background of the Poem
This means that you can find it beneficial to look up the poet, the date that the poem was written, and the cultural context of the work. All of that information typically gives the reader a more in-depth understanding of the poem, and it seems self-explanatory that one who has an enhanced comprehension of the poem would have an easier time analyzing that poem.
Define a Composition Dedicated to the Subject Matter of the Poem
This can be analyzed during the reader’s quest to determine the theme, tone, mood, and meaning of the poem. The subject matter — and the thematic elements that support the intended message behind the subject — is often an interpretive minefield.
Pick a Side Among the Various Theories That You Have Created
Often, people have different ideas about what a poet is trying to say by their use of a subject, so unless the message is implicitly stated, it is best to report multiple possibilities about what the poet may have meant and included evidence for these theories.
The amateur writer can try to elaborate on several existing ideas and theories. Be careful not to mistake this with choosing a popular opinion or biased one. They should be defending the one that carries the most weight or offers the most validation. As the essay is supposed to be an analysis, try to avoid opinions in favor of facts and conjectures that are backed by evidence from work.
How to Choose a Poem to Analyze?
A great way to choose a topic for a poetry analysis essay is to decide on one that would deal with information that you are already familiar with. For example, if the choice of the poem to analyze is up to you, then it may be beneficial for you to choose a poem that you have encountered before. If the choice is to be made between different subject areas within a poem, then you could find it easier to choose to focus on writing about an area that plays to your strengths, so that the statements made in the essay are conveyed clearly and confidently.
A poem analysis essay may seem like a daunting writing assignment at first, but if the topic, outline, and paper are composed following the steps mentioned above, the paper will no doubt, turn out very well.
Poetry Analysis Essay Outline
An outline for a poetry analysis essay can be very simple. It is merely a guideline for the writer to build upon. Put the title of the paper at the top of the page, then place the number one (1) underneath, just before the word “Introduction.” Under this, you can list brainstormed ideas for the introduction paragraph of the paper. The final portion of this section should be dedicated to the thesis statement of the paper.
Need a poetry analysis essay outline? Here is a basic structure to follow for your outline:
Following an outline for a poetry research essay is recommended to make sure you organize all your thoughts and statements you want to say. No matter whether you know how to write poetry — an outline will help identify areas that need to be explored in the analysis.
Starting with the title for the analysis can be something very basic or a clever quote, a statement from the piece. Moving onto the introduction to poetry analysis, this should open with a “hook” to get the reader's attention. Follow up with the Authors name and title for the piece. Add some interesting trivia or background info that is not known to the audience, but try to keep it short. To finish off the introduction to a poetry analysis, state your thesis.
The bulk of ideas and comparisons need to be explored here in a clear, focused way. When writing a poetry analysis, each paragraph should be devoted to one point or feature you are comparing. You can divide each point by using the corresponding letter from the outline. Try to make it a coherent and specific about what is being compared (example: when stating your ideas about what the poetic devices do to the piece check whether you state each one and do not generalize). Using transition words and phrases will keep the paragraphs flowing well and more helpful to read.
It's important when looking at how to analyze a poem to finish with a set-out conclusion. Firstly, start by restating the thesis in different words. Summarize the most important findings to prove the thesis. From this, you can draw up your own opinions and take a step back and say what it all means with one key idea. Lastly, try to leave the reader with something memorable to take away with them (a thought-provoking sentence or question about the poem).
Tips for a Poetry Analysis
We have put together some handy tips to help you with when writing a poetry analysis essay:
- If possible, choose a poem that you would like to write about. This seems like a simple enough idea but very relevant. If you have the choice pick a poem you enjoy.
- Try reading the poem to a colleague or friend and even just out loud to yourself. This will help discover any hidden information from the sound, and it’s always good to get a second opinion or extra ideas.
- Don’t be scared to double-check the meanings of words and phrases. This is vital to know how to write a poem analysis essay and to the best, you can. Some words may have had different meanings, cultural references and places all should be looked up if only half certain.
- Check if the conclusion has one clear central idea or theme. Do not put in many confusing ideas or conclusions as this will look like you have not evaluated the work with focus. To go beyond a simple poetry analysis for middle school, try to show how it links to broader themes and the outside world.
- Always try to look beyond the words themselves. Hunt for hidden meanings and any little clues upon which to build a picture. Anybody could know how to write a poem but to explore the hidden meanings within poetry takes time, skill, and a lot of research.
If you don't have enough time, get some help from the experts who can write a custom poetry analysis essay for you!
Poetry Analysis Essay Example
Ballad of Birmingham is the author of the poem that revolves around a little girl who would like to go downtown to take part in a freedom protest. Her mother, however, says that she cannot go because of the dangerous conditions outside. Her mother instead tells her to go to church despite the little girl's constant explanations that she would not be alone. Defeated and in a show of respect for her mother, the little girl gets dressed and goes to church. Her mother is contented that she would be fine at the church. Sooner her mother hears of an explosion that sets her racing downtown in search of her daughter. Unfortunately, she finds her daughters dress and shoes in the piles and rubbles. She is left wondering where her daughter is.