How to analyze poetry


You would think that reading and analysis of the poetic work is like deciphering an ancient, forgotten language? But not fear! Following our tips, you will learn how to correctly interpret poems, to understand what is really meant by and what tools he used to convey his thoughts to readers.


Understand the meaning of a poem


Read a poem to oneself once


As you read the poem for the first time, pay attention to any of your “instinctive reaction”: any emotional reaction to the author’s words, some memories that you like or do not like poetry, etc. Think in this way: what feelings it evokes in me? Why? Why no emotions about it? Track your own reactions, you will be able to understand what feelings the author hoped to arouse readers.


For example, read “A Vagabond Song” Bliss Carman. Your first association can be brightly colored leaves, covered with frost. Or the transition from summer to autumn. These lines can also recall the time spent in the forest, when the leaves change color.


Read the poem again and find its literal meaning


The literal sense – this is the most obvious version of what the product, excluding any literary agents. Transfer poetry to spoken language. How would you retell this verse to a friend? Think in this way: what is the most common dictionary meaning of the word or phrase? This may be difficult, but remember that any verse, even seeming incredibly confusing, still composed of ordinary words, which have a literal meaning.


In “A Vagabond Song” said the poet, who observes how to replace the summer comes autumn. It seems that the fall – this is the most delightful is time, and the thought of how the leaves change color, his heart begins to beat faster.


Read the verse again to understand the subtext


Find in text of a few key words or phrases and try to understand what associations they carry. Ask yourself: why is the word, and not some other? Remember your first reaction: emotions often cause that implied rather than literal meaning.


For example, the word “mother.” The dictionary defines it “a female parent.” That’s right, but this word evokes in us a lot of emotions and feelings, imagination paints a different picture. You can think of the love and security, or your own mother. Emotions and feelings for that word, called its connotative, or implied value.


Take, for example, the phrase “gypsy blood” of the work “A Vagabond Song.” Technically, Gypsy blood – the blood of human origin Romanesque. But in the poem it is a wandering spirit, which the gypsies’ blood. ” The poet can have a home, but when autumn comes, it pulls him to the way.


Find the symbolic meaning of the poem


Record any allegory, which will see in the text, character references, etc. Think about what this could mean? Why?


In “A Vagabond Song” look for the word “native.” A string like this: “There is something in the autumn that is native to my blood.” In this case, the “native” does not mean that the narrator was born with the autumn in blood. This is only a symbolic reference to the fact that the poet feels kinship with the the spirit of autumn, it’s best at this time of the year and in the autumn he feels most alive. “Native” means coming from the inside, inviting and bringing joy for him.


Another example – the word “light”. This not only contrast dark; often “light” symbolizes the knowledge, truth, joy and spirituality.


Ask yourself: What author wants to say?


What is the pursues in this poem? What is the reaction of readers he seeks? Why? Try to determine the purpose for which the poet wrote these lines.


In “A Vagabond Song” Carman wants to reflect the beauty of the transition from summer to autumn. The poet wants to express the feelings that cover it in the form of new colors and sudden anxiety that impress him.


Understand which uses poetic means


Start analyzing different parts of poem


The analysis will help you understand “how” the author reaches a certain effect or purpose, but not the “which” purpose or effect he wants to achieve. This includes the study of poetic means, the narrative tone, target audience and others.


Identify the narrator and audience


Who exactly is the narrator? It is the poet? Even so, you should always take the narrator as “narrator” in your analysis. Speaking of listeners – to whom he appeals? It’s kind of a certain group of people? Does the audience to better understand who is the narrator?


In “A Vagabond Song” in the role of narrator speaks the poet himself. He appealed to all “vagabonds”, to the people to which falling leaves calling to go. For him, a vagabonds – all who gets joy from changes, not just wanderers.


Define the structure of poem


This is the story? Are there are thoughts that are collected in separate groups? Each verse has its own theme or a common idea runs through the whole work? What is the structure of the poem – it’s a long poem or a few verses or lines?


“A Vagabond Song” has three couplets, each of which has four lines. The theme of the poem – inspired by nature (in the autumn).


Identify rhyming scheme


There are many different rhyming schemes. Rhymes give the poem a musical, pleasant sound. They can also be used to make a deeper meaning, and form – strong. Is there any sense in a certain location rhyme? Whether it emphasizes an idea?


End rhyme – is the most common type of rhyme. When the last word in a line rhymes with the last word in the other line, it is called end rhyme. In “A Vagabond Song” line “And my lonely spirit thrills / TTo see the frosty asters like a smoke upon the hills” is an example of lines with end rhymes.


Internal rhyme – is when a word in the middle of a line rhymes with other strings. In one of the poems by Samuel Taylor Coleridge has the following lines: “The fair breeze blew, the white foam flew” ‘blew’ and ‘flew’ – this is an example of internal rhyme.


Full rhyme – is when words rhyme completely. For example, the word “cat” and “rat” is full of rhymes.


Incomplete rhyme – is when words rhyme not entirely. These rhymes are called dissonant. For example, the word “fate” and “saint” – they sound very similar, but have slightly different ending. The incomplete use assonance rhymes (consonant vowel when two words) and consonance (as in the words of the same consonants).


Consider a verse from the viewpoint of poetic means


Look for a sound means of expression (alliteration, assonance, etc.), figures of speech (sensory details, artistic images, etc..) And others. Answer the questions: “What means the linguistic expression used by the author How do these tools help him achieve the goal?”


What are the figures of speech used the author? Do you work in metaphors, comparisons or personification? In “A Vagabond Song” Carman personifies the autumn with a woman saying that “she calls every vagabond by name”. Animating the autumn, poet draws a parallel between the seductive women, tempting them, and in the autumn, which calls to enjoy its beauty.


Does the poet alliteration? Alliteration – is when the words in a string starting with the same letter. For example, “the terrifying tiger tackled the traumatized toad.”


How would you define the language of poem (or choice of words)? For some reason the author chose certain words? Do you think language of the verse is florid? Cutting? Sad? In “A Vagabond Song” it eccentric, full of passion. The author turns to red, the color of passion, throughout the poem. Blood, crimson leaves, red maple, the hills on fire – it all adds to the feeling of vitality and passion.


Draw conclusions


What is the theme or purpose of the poem? What methods to use author, to convey the basic idea? How he used this methods? If you have such a task – write down their findings in the form of an analytical essay.




If you still can not figure out what the author wants to say in his work, go back to the beginning and read the poem several times. Notice what emotions causes the verse. Often, the purpose of poet – simply pass to readers a certain emotion or describe a place or event.


Do not despair. Sometimes poetry is very difficult to understand. Everywhere need practice! Do not give up. In order to learn to understand and appreciate the complex poetry will take time.


analyze poetry