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How to Write a Poem Analysis

No matter how long or complicated the poem, the first steps are the same:
1. Read the poem on your own looking for general understanding.
2. Read it again to do the same thing. This time, start jotting down ideas.
3. Read it aloud (you will more easily hear meter, rhythm, rhyme, and the meaning may
become more clear).
4. Go through the poem, line by line, and make notes all over it. This should help lead you
to conclusions about the poems:
a. Theme(s) and Tone.
b. Structure (and how this helps express the theme or point of the poem).
c. Use of poetic devices (metaphors, similes, etc. these should make the poem
more interesting but may also help express the tone, theme, etc.).
5. In some cases, you may want (or be required) to do some research and find others/critics
who agree with your analysis. If you do, be sure to quote them and include the article in
your Works Cited page. It is easy to find professional analyses of famous poems or poets.
You may want to check your interpretation against others. On the other hand, what really
counts is your analysis. It doesnt matter if some old professor agrees with you. So long
as you explain your interpretation and it makes sense, the essay should be fine.
6. Create an outline or do some more prewriting to organize your ideas.

CREATING A THESIS:
The essay/analysis needs a thesis.
The thesis should be at the end of your introductory paragraph.
The thesis will probably be something along the lines of, _(Poets name)_ uses ___(add
some info here about the poems structure, use of poetic devices, etc.) to express the
theme that _____. NOTE: Please dont use that exact sentence. But try to include the
following in your thesis statement:
o A basic statement about the poems theme/meaning. *You should answer the
basics question: What is this poem telling us?
o How the poem achieves this meaning (through the use of poetic devices, imagery,
etc.). Maybe the structure actually helps express the idea. Take a hard look
before you start writing.

THE ESSAYS STRUCTURE: *Write a formal essay in MLA format.


The Introductory paragraph could be about the author, the style of poem (sonnet,
haiku, free verse, etc.), the basic topic the poem addresses, etc. Just make sure it is at
least SIX sentences long, leads up to the thesis, and that you dont give away too much
of the essays meat in the introduction.
The body of the essay should guide the reader through your interpretation. This
should be done line by line in a short poem. Be sure to point out poetic devices where
you find them and explain how these help express the poems meaning. You should
quote the poem AS OFTEN AS POSSIBLE.
The conclusion paragraph could review your main points in backing up your thesis. It
could also take the idea (theme) and leave us with a final note about what the poem is
saying about life. Maybe you can find a way to branch out and apply it to the real world.
It should also be about SIX sentences long.