Notes On Analyzing Poems

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Analyzing poems

Writing Your Paper : Questions To Answer Before Writing

Most likely you will not be able to simply write a few lines for each device, rather you must group these devices together. A proper order of paragraphs may flow like this:

I. Dramatic Situation A. Who is speaking? B. To whom is that speaker speaking? C. What is the situation? D. What is the speaker's tone? II. Imagery
III. Theme
IV. Kinds of language

1. Figurative a. Metaphor (implied comparisons) b. Simile (comparison using 'like' or 'as') c. Personification (giving human characteristics to an inanimate object) d. Metonymy (the use of an attribute or quality of an object to represent the object itself) e. Synecdoche (substitutes a significant part of something for the thing itself)

2. Rhetorical a. Irony (opposite of what is meant) b. Hyperbole (exaggeration) c. Allusion (reference to something) d. Pun (play on words) e. Paradox (contradictory) f. Oxymoron (self contradictory term) g. Litotes (form of understatement) V. Syntax (sentence structure)

A. Length B. Transposed elements C. "Unusual" sentences

VI. Conclusion

Useful phrases for text analysis and literary appreciation

The writer/ orator/ poet/ novelist/ ...

- wants to achieve the purpose of
- is based on
- wants to produce the effect that
- is aiming at
- wants to contrast sth with sth else
- arouses the reader's emotions (feelings/ interest)
- evokes the attitude of
- focuses the reader' s intention on
- expects the reader to
- wants to produce the effect that
- appeals to the reader's senses/ feelings/ emotions/ reason (Vernunft) a word/ a phrase/ ….
- is a clue to the message of the poem
- is a clue to the poet's intention
- is a means to gain strength and freshness of expression
- is a device to underline ( emphasize/ stress) the idea/ topic/ subject is

- presented
- introduced
- expressed
- developed
- restated
- illustrated

- suggests/ indicates the poem/ story/ extract
- achieves coherence by
- establishes unity by
- brings about the effect
- is divided into the rhythm
- adds to the musical quality of the poem
- makes the lines run more quickly/ slowly
- affects the poem as a whole

How to Analyse a Poem

· How to approach a poem

1. Read a poem more than twice before setting out to analyse it according to the

following questions:

2. What sort of poem is it: descriptive, narrative, reflective?

3. Who is speaking? Some lyrical I or the poet himself?

4. Who is addressed?

5. What kind of situation is presented?

6. What are motifs / what is the theme of the poem?

7. What is the poet´s main intention?

8. Can you describe the relationship between the title of the poem and its subject?

9. What is the prevailing atmosphere?

10. What is the predominant tone of the poem?

· Useful Expressions for Interpretation

The poem consists of / comprises three stanzas.

The first stanza is composed of four lines / The number of lines varies greatly.

The poem has a rather complex / simple sentence structure.

It can be divided into … parts. / It is not divided into stanzas.

In the … part of the poem, the sentence is not complete.

The usual word order has been changed because …

The phrase … links the … stanza to the next one.

There is a break between the … and the … stanza.

The different stanzas are unequal in length.

The lines vary in length, they have between … and … syllables.

2. The subject of the poem is …/ It deals with … / treats the theme of …

The person speaking is …/ seems to be …

The motif of … appears for the first time in stanza …

The poet addresses … / His (main) intention is to …

The poet narrates … / describes … /