How to Analyze a Poem: A Step-by-Step Process

Step 1: Read the title and the entire poem without stopping.

Step 2: Break up the poem into separate ideas and/or stanzas.

Step 3: Consider the title and author: what information does this convey?

Step 4: Paraphrase the surface meaning for each idea/stanza.

Step 5: Look for poetic devices within each idea/stanza: how do they help to convey a deeper meaning?

Sound Devices Figurative Language Diction
Alliteration

Assonance

Onomatopoeia

Rhyme Scheme

Repetition

Rhythm

Meter

Metaphor

Simile

Personification

Hyperbole

Allusion

Symbolism

Connotation

Denotation

Pun

Tone

Mood

Step 6: Establish whether or not the poem has a specific metrical pattern: does the pattern (or lack of a pattern) contribute to the theme?

Step 7: Analyze the structure of the poem: how does this contribute to the theme?

Step 8: Reread the poem with new understanding and appreciation.

Step 9: (If required) Write an analytical paper connecting the surface meaning to the deeper meaning.

Not sure how to write a poetic analysis? Use the poetic analysis frame below to get started! You can repeat the frame as many times as necessary to get your point across.

3 Responses

  1. Joseph B. Manyango

    That was an error from my compute. How could you determine the theme of a poem?

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