Tools for Creating / Discovering the Theme or Central Message in Poetry

Remember, the theme or central message is not necessarily directly stated. It is suggested
through the poem’s elements. When analyzing poetry, look for patterns of meaning. Notice
what the images, figurative language, and main idea of each stanza have in common. Consider
whether sound devices emphasize key words, and analyze how the form of the poem helps
support the meaning. Read through a poet’s eyes! Use your heart, mind, and imagination.

Poetic Structure Word Choice and Tone
*Lines of the poem are often grouped into *Words with positive connotations, or
stanzas. associations, express a positive attitude, or
*Each stanza conveys a central idea. positive tone.
*In free verse or concrete poetry, the actual *Words with negative connotations express a
shape of the poem may convey meaning. negative tone.
*Word should be chosen carefully!
Rhythm Figurative Language
*Stressed and unstressed syllables create a *Simile – A comparison that used the word
pattern of beats. like or as.
*Rhythm gives a poem a musical quality. *Metaphor – A direct comparison that does
not use like or as.
*Personification – Giving human traits to
things that are not human.
*Hyperbole – an exaggeration (I walked a
million miles.)
*Idiom – Words that do not take on their
literal meaning (It’s raining cats and dogs.)
Sound Devices Sensory Language
*Repetition is using a word, phrase, line, or *Creates images that appeal to one or more
image more than once. of the five senses. (sight, smell, taste,
*Alliteration is the repetition of consonant hearing, touch)
sounds at the beginning of words. *These images help the reader imagine the
*Onomatopoeia is the use of words that experiences described in the poetry.
imitate sounds.

Adapted from Prentice Hall Literature Text