You don't need to be an English major to dissect poetry.
You will need
- A poem
- A biography of the author
- A notebook
- A pen
Step 1 Research Research the author to understand the poem’s context. The period of time the author lived in and the author’s personal experiences often influence their writing.
Step 2 Determine the form Determine the form of the piece, whether it is a fixed poem that follows a specific structure or written in free verse.
Look for breaks in the form. Poets break a poem’s form to emphasize a word or a line.
Step 3 Break down the meter Read the poem and break down the meter, or the stressed and unstressed syllables of each line. Notice if stressed words have significance.
Read the poem several times, and take notes on particular words or phrases that stand out.
Step 4 Identify devices of sound Identify how the poet uses devices of sound such as rhyme, repetition, assonance, and alliteration.
Step 5 Identify devices of sense Look for devices of sense, such as figures of speech, metaphors, similes, visuals, and symbolism. Determine the meanings of these devices in the poem.
Step 6 Determine speaker Determine the speaker of the poem, and the tone of the piece. Notice if the poet is speaking from personal experience or from another point of view.
Step 7 Form a thesis Form a thesis, or an argument for the meaning of the poem using what you’ve observed.
Did You Know:
Did you know? Walt Whitman comforted soldiers in the hospital during the Civil War, and their suffering provided him with inspiration for his poetry.