How to Analyze a Poem

You don't need to be an English major to dissect poetry.

You will need

  • A poem
  • A biography of the author
  • Focus
  • 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.

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.

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.