Poetry: Areas to Cover when Writing an Analysis

  1. Title
  2. Themes
  3. Linguistic Devices/Dramatic Techniques: Dialogue, diction, metaphors, similes, personification, onomatopoeia, alliteration, hyperbole, etc.
  4. Poet’s purpose
  5. Characters or the persona’s characteristics
  6. Rhyme scheme
  7. Tone & Mood
  8. Pace
  9. Poem structure: Italian Sonnet, 4×4, blank verse, etc.
  10. Background: This is the time period in which the poem was written according to a particular mindset, or simply just according to a certain mindset like devotional poems for instance, as well as the writer’s background. Like Christina Rosetti: her poems were about death because she was suffering from cancer.
  11. Personal Response

Your personal response is very very important. Write about what the question is asking for with great focus and relate it to all the other elements listed above. E.g. “What linguistic devices are used in Plena Timoris by Thomas Hardy?” You would write with great focus on the linguistic devices like dialogue, diction etc. and relate it to all the other elements as much as you can. It never hurts to do background research about the poet before writing your analysis. It often gives you deeper insight into what the poem is about.

One comment I often received in my Poetry analyses was that the poet is different from the persona of the poem. Unless we are told that the poem is an autobiographical one, we mustn’t say that the poet is experiencing these things. Honestly, I never really knew how we were to find this out so I always stuck to saying “persona” to be on the safe side. Maybe different schools and teachers have different views about this. My teacher emphasized on this whereas another said it was always the poet was writing about himself. Find out from your teacher, to be sure.

Also see ‘Literature: Areas to Cover when Writing an Analysis’ to read about the elements of a story/prose.

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