- 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.
- TIP: 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.
- TIP: 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.
- FACT: Did you know? Walt Whitman comforted soldiers in the hospital during the Civil War, and their suffering provided him with inspiration for his poetry.
You Will Need
- A poem
- A biography of the author
- A notebook
- A pen