How To Write A Poetry Essay
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A Guide On Writing A Poetry Essay
A poetry essay evaluates a poem. It analyzes the words, sounds, feelings, and topics that the poet uses in the poem. A poetry essay should include analysis of the topic, message, rhythm, and word choice. In addition, it should have both an introduction and a conclusion. Below is how to write a poetry essay:
- Introduce your poem with an introductory paragraph - Write the title of the poem and its author then give a brief summary of the poem’s contents.
- Write about the poetic language and imagery - Does the poet use precise and vivid vocabulary to create detailed images? What literary devices are used to enhance meanings? Answer these questions by explaining and analyzing specific examples from the poem. Tell how the poet creates those images.
- Write about sound and sense - Does the poet use rhythm and meter to create meaningful sounds in the poem? Which word sounds does the poet use to create pictures? Does the poet use vocabulary that appeals to the five senses? Answer these questions by explaining in your poetry essay how the poet’s choice of words creates meaningful sound.
- Write about emotion and feeling - Is the poet creating a feeling or mood? Does the poem evoke an emotional response? Answer these questions in your poetry essay by explaining what kind of response the poet is trying to evoke in his audience.
- Write a conclusion to your poetry essay - Explain what the author’s intentions were and whether or not he or she achieved that goal. Support your opinion with details from the poem.
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Poem Analysis Essay Guide: Outline, Template, Structure
Poetry analysis, which is similar to poetry review, involves analyzing the language and figures of speech used by a poet. It also entails sharing personal views regarding the poem and breaking down the poetic instruments utilized by the said poet. However, it’s not just about the words used (Headrick, 2014). It entails reading between the lines and understanding what made the poet come up with a particular poem. So it may require some background research on the author and history behind the creation of the poem.
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What Is A Poetry Analysis?
Poetry analysis may define as a critical review given on a poem, a reflection on the depth and gravity of a poem. It revolves around multiple aspects of a poem starting from the subject of a poem, its theme (meaning), tone, literary devices or speech figures, form to the feeling of the poet to how a reader feels about the poem. It is not only the analysis of techniques used in a poem, but poetry analysis provides a broader and wider picture of the poem, its reality, its hidden meanings between the lines, a study of poet’s mind, feeling and intention behind a poem. Different techniques used in poetry analysis are helpful tools in investigating and reviewing the poem. Behind every review or analysis vital research on poet (author), era (time frame), possible reasons, the background behind the conceptualization poem is vital.
One should read, understand and develop a thesis. Writing services also recommend researching more on the poet and his past works to understand the root of this particular idea.
If you have been asked to write a poem analysis essay, then it means to examine the piece and further dissect it into key elements including its form, techniques used and historical value. Then further appreciating the poem and highlighting to others these points, and gaining a better understanding.
It is also important to show as many ideas as possible that relate to the poem and then create conclusions on this.
To start writing a poetry analysis essay let's look at the prewriting stage.
How to Choose a Topic for a Poetry Analysis Essay?
- In the subject of the poem we mainly focus on the reasons such as why is the poem written or what is it all about?
- What is the context, the central content of the poem?
- Who wrote the poem and why?
- When and where the poet did write the poem, what or who has influenced the poet and what are the key features of the poem?
A topic should be chosen based on the theme you want to write. The theme is the message that the poem is trying to convey. You need to look therefore for concepts and notions that pop up in the poem and come up with an appropriate theme based on those perceptions or "feelings". If you can’t still figure out what topic you should choose for your analysis, it is recommended that you go through other poems similar poems and get a suitable topic for your analysis. Don’t also forget to cite your poem well. And also use in-text citations while quoting from the poem.
Related: COMING UP WITH ESSAY TOPIC IDEAS .
Poem Analysis Essay Outline
To create a good essay, it is needed to plan out the structure of a poem analysis essay so the writing stage will be easier and faster.
Here is an outline of a poem analysis essay to use:
Opening paragraph - Introduce the Poem, title, author and background.
Body of text - Make most of the analysis, linking ideas and referencing to the poem.
Conclusion - State one main idea, feelings and meanings.
Poem Analysis Essay Introduction
To start an introduction to a poem analysis essay, include the name of the poem and the author . Other details like the date of when it was published can also be stated. Then some background information and interesting facts or trivia regarding the poem or author can also be included here.
Poem Analysis Essay Body
When writing the main body of text keep in mind you have to reference all ideas to the poem so include a quotation to back up the sentence, otherwise, it will be a wasted comparison and not count. Be clear with your statements.
Poem Analysis Essay Conclusion
Now, this is where you should take a step back from analyzing the individual elements of the poem and work out its meaning as a whole. Combine the different elements of the analysis and put forward one main idea.
What is the poet trying to say, and how is it enforced and with what feeling? Then look at the meaning and what timeframe does this evolve over?
For example, is it obvious from the start, or does it gradually change towards the end? The last few lines can be very significant within a poem and so should be included in the poem analysis essay conclusion and commented on the impact on the piece.
Remember that you can always send us a " write an essay for me " text and have your assignment done for you.
How to Analyze a Poem?
Before even thinking about your first draft, read the poem as much as possible. If it's possible, listen to it in the original form. This depends on many factors which include if the poet is still alive?
Also reading aloud can help identify other characteristics that could be missed and even to a friend or colleague will give a chance to more insight. It is important to remember that poetry is a form of art painted with only words, this said it could take time to fully appreciate the piece. So take note of any first thoughts you have about the poem, even if they are negative.
Your opinions can change over time but still mark these first thoughts down.
So that to analyze a poem properly, you have to pay attention to the following aspects:
Title of the Poem
So let's go deeper into the poem analysis essay and look at the title. The poet may have spent a lot of time thinking about naming the piece so what can be observed from this and what further questions can be asked?
- What are your expectations? For example, the poem could be titled “Alone” written by Edgar Allan Poe and from this it is natural to assume it will be sad. After reading further does the reality turn out to be different?
- What is the literature style used? So for example, the work could be called “His last sonnet” by John Keats. From appearance, it is possible to deduce that it could be in sonnet form and if not why did the poet choose to mislead the audience?
- What is the poem about? In the poem, “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways” by Elizabeth Barrett, it already states what could be included and what to expect but if it differs from the title what would this suggest?
Literal Meaning of the Poetry
According to our to fully appreciate a piece, it is needed to understand all the words used. So, for example, get a good dictionary and look up all the unknown words. Then go through partly known words and phrases and check these too. Also, maybe check the meaning of words that are used a lot, but remember some text may have had a different meaning a century ago, so use the internet to look up anything that is not clear. Furthermore, people and places and any cultural relevance of the time should be researched too to get a deeper look at the poet's attitude towards the piece. Patterns might become visible at this point and maybe the theme of the poem.
Structure of the Poem
When looking at the structure of the piece this will reveal more information so pay close attention to this. Look at the organization and sections, this will unlock more questions:
- What does each part discuss?
- How do the parts relate to each other?
- Can you see formal separations?
- What logical sense does it have?
- Is there emotional sense that can be evaluated?
- Does having a strict format say anything about the poet?
- Also failing to have a strict structure does this reveal something?
Once you have observed the structure, it is possible to go deeper into the poem analysis essay and investigate how the speaker communicates the poem to the reader.
Tone and Intonation of the Poetry
So now it is possible to look at the poet and see what details can be obtained from them. Is it possible to see the gender or age of the speaker? Is there some race or religious references to pick up on? Then can we see if the speaker is directly communicating their thoughts and ideas to the reader? If not, what is the character the poet has created to convey the ideas or messages? Does the poet's persona differ to the character created and what can be analyzed from this? Also the mood of the speaker could be available now, are they happy or sad, and how can you find out this from the poem?
Once the poet is understood it is possible to move onto who or what the poem is designed for. Then you can see the purpose of the poetry, what does the poet want from the reader? It is also possible that the poet does not desire a response from the audience and is simply making a statement or expressing themselves.
For example, a poem about spring could just be a happy statement that winter has ended. Looking from the other side, this could be an attempt to attract someone's attention or maybe just an instruction to plow the field.
Purpose of the Poem
The subject of the poem can help identify the purpose, as this usually will be what the poet is describing. Then the theme can be identified also, and what does it say about the work? Are there any links between the theme and the subject and what can analyzed from that? The timeframe is also an important factor to consider, for example, the poet's goal back when it was written, may have changed and why? Furthermore, has the original purpose survived the test of time and can it be said to be the best indicator of success?
Language and Imagery of the Poetry
Until this point it was only possible to analyze the literal information available which is the denotative meaning.’ Now let's look at the imagery, symbolism and figures of speech, this is the connotative meaning.
This is where you should look for pictures described within the text and analyze why they have been depicted? So for example, if the poet thas decided to describe the moon this could set the time in the work or maybe the mood of the poem. Also look for groups of images described and patterns within this, what can be deducted from that?
So when looking for symbolism within the text this could be an event or physical object, including people and places that represent non-physical entities like an emotion or concept. For example, a bird flying through the air can be seen as freedom and escaping usual conforms.
In your analysis you will look at techniques like metaphors, similes, personification and alliteration to include just a few. It's important to identify the actual device used and why it was chosen. For example, when comparing something within the text using a metaphor then look at how they are connected and in what way they are expressed? Try to use all available clues to gain better insight into the mind of the poet.
Music of the Poem
Poetry and music have deep connections and can be compared together due to the history and uses throughout the ages.
Here are some things to look out for to help with those comparisons:
- Meter - This can be available to investigate in different ways, for example, iambic pentameter has a strict five beats per line just like a musical score if used what does it say?
- Rhythm - Just like with music, poem can have a rhythm but if there is no given meter, it is needed to look closer and observe what this does to the work. For example, a particular beat that is fast could make the poem happy.
- Special effects - Looking for not so obvious signs where the poet has written in a way so you take longer to pronounce words. Also it is possible to grab your attention in other ways, for what reason has the writer done that?
- Rhyme - There are many different types of rhyming techniques used within poetry, once identified look at how it impacts on the work like make it humorous for example? Be careful to look for unusual patterns for example rhymes within the lines and not just at the end of the sentences, even reading out aloud might help find these and then what does it this say about the poem?
- Sound effects - The depiction of different sounds can be powerful and also using different voices, look at what impact this has on the piece and why?
- Breaking Rules - Rhyme and meter for example can have very specific rules but what if the poet decided to break these conventional techniques and make something new, what does this add to the work and why
How to Write a Poem Analysis Essay?
Below you will find a compelling guide on how to analyze poetry with handy writing tips:
- Choose a suitable poem - If possible, before you start, pick the main subject of your essay, a poem that you would like to analyze. The more you find it interesting, the easier it will be to handle the task.
- Read it fully - If you are wondering how to analyse poetry, the first step you can’t go without is carefully reading the chosen poem multiple times and, preferably, out loud.
- Always double-check the meanings - When reading a poem, don’t forget to check for the meanings of unknown (and known as well) words and phrases.
- Collect all the details you need - To write a compelling essay, you need to study the poem’s structure, contents, main ideas, as well as other background details.
- Explore hidden meanings - When analyzing poem, be sure to look beyond the words. Instead, focus on finding broader, hidden ideas that the author wanted to share through his piece.
- Make an outline - Once you have analyzed poem, outline your essay and write it following the plan.
- Proofread and edit - Finally, once your essay is ready, take your time to revise and polish it carefully.
Poetry Analysis Template
To write a winning poem analysis essay, use the template below or order an essay from our professionals.
- Name of Poem
- Name of Poet
- Date of Publication
- Background or any relevant information
Form of poem
- Structure of poem
- Rhyme of poem
Meaning of poem
- Overall meaning
- How can we relate the poem to our life
- Literary devices
Form of the Poem
Poems are written in some ways, here one need to identify which structure the poet has used for the poem. The forms of poems broadly are stanzas, rhythm, punctuation and rhymes. Carefully analyze the length and number of stanzas , does the rhythm impacts the meaning of the poem, is there many punctuations or little, either the rhyme is consistent, or it’s breaking and what is the rhyme contributing to the meaning of the poem or is it random.
Theme, Meaning or Message of the Poem
In this part, we focus on the topic, main issue or idea of the poem. There are layers of meaning hidden in a poem.
- Meaning: surface meaning that what is actually or physically happening in the poem which a reader can sense.
- Deeper Meaning: the central idea of the poem or what is it actually about.
- Theme: in poetry, there is always a hidden meaning in every line, which depicts the message about life.
Numerous topics can be covered in poems such as love, life, death, birth, nature, memory, war, age, sexuality, experience, religion, race, faith, creator and many others.
Tone of the Poem
The tone of the poem shows attitude or mood of the language used by the poet. Analyze the different shades of the language used in the poem for example; is it formal, judgmental, informal, critical, positive, bitter, reflective, solemn, frustrated, optimistic, ironic, scornful, regretful or morbid.
Literary Device used in the Poem
Find out what the different literary devices are or what sort of figures of speech is used by the poet . Analyze these techniques and suggest their use in the poem by the poet. The poem can contain a symbol, similes, metaphor, alliteration, allegories, oxymoron, assonances, dissonances, repetition, hyperbole, irony.
Conclusion or Feel of the Poem
Lastly, analyze the emotions and feelings linked with the poem; of the poet and what do you feel when you read the poem. This is the very critical part of reviewing a poem because we analyze the inner depth of the poem, the intention & feelings of the poet, the targeted audience, does the poem reflect the poet’s persona, perspective or it does not match with the poet.
Poetry Analysis Essay Example
Analysis of Edgar Allan Poe’s Poem “Annabel Lee”
Written in 1849 and first published after the author’s death, Annabel Lee by Edgar Allan Poe is a beautiful story of true love that goes beyond life. In the poem, the author is commemorating the girl named Annabel Lee, whom he knew since childhood. Despite the young age, the love between the narrator and Annabel was so deep and true that even angels were jealous, and, according to Edgar Allan Poe, their jealousy was so severe that they killed the love of his life. The poem ends with young Annabel Lee being buried in a tomb, leaving the readers with a feeling that the author kept holding on to his love for her for many years after her death.
The two evident topics in the poem are love and loss. The entire narration revolves around the author’s agonizing memory, at the same time demonstrating to the readers the purity and power of true love that makes him cherish the memory of his beloved one even after she is gone. Apart from that, Edgar Allan Poe also discusses such issues of love as jealousy and envy. The author states that the love of the two teens was so strong that even angels in heaven were not half as happy as Annabel and Edgar, which caused them to invade the teens’ romantic “kingdom by the sea” and kill the girl.
The topics discussed in the poem, as well as the style of narration itself, give the poem a very romantic atmosphere. It follows the main principles of the romantic era in poetry in the 18th and 19th centuries, which Edgar Allan Poe was representing. At the same time, the author also gives his poem a sense of musicality and rhythm. The poem’s rhyme scheme puts emphasis on the words “Lee”, “me”, and “sea”. The repetition of these words gives the poem a song-like sound.
A significant role in Edgar Allan Poe’s poem is played by imagery, which emphasizes the author’s unique style. The main imagery used by Allan Poe in Annabel Lee is the Kingdom. The author uses this imagery to set the right tone for his poem and give it a sort of a fairytale feel. At the same time, this imagery is used to take the reader to a different place, though not specifying what exactly this place is. To confirm this - the author uses the phrase “the kingdom by the sea” multiple times in his piece, never specifying its meaning. This trick enables the readers to leave this to their own imagination.
Apart from the Kingdom, the author also operates with the imagery of angels and demons. The narrator blames them for their envy for their deep love, which resulted in the death of Annable Lee. Thus, the author gives a negative attitude towards this imagery. This brings us to another big topic of good and evil discussed in the poem.
Nevertheless, even though the angels’ intervention seems to be clear to the reader from what the author says, Poe’s choice of words doesn’t directly implicate their responsibility for the girl’s death. The narrator blames everybody for his loss. However, he does this in a very tactical and covert way.
In conclusion, it becomes clear that the narrator in Annabel Lee did not only pursue a goal to share his pain and loss. He also emphasizes that true love is everlasting by stating that his love for the gone girl lives with him after all these years. With all its deep topics, imagery, and musicality, Annabel Lee is now considered one of the best works by Edgar Allan Poe.
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Body paragraphs, write poetry: what is a verse paragraph and how to write a poetry essay.
A poem analysis essay evaluates a poem in a literary analysis. It analyzes the words, sounds, feelings and topics that the poet uses in the poem. A poetry analysis essay should include analysis of the topic, message, rhythm and word choice. It should have both an introduction and a conclusion, similar to normal essay writing or research paper.
Introduce your poem with an introductory paragraph that includes your thesis statement in the topic sentence. Write the title of the poem and its author. Paraphrase the poem’s contents without going too in depth. A brief summary on Edgar Allen Poe's "The Raven," for example, would state that the speaker of the poem is longing for his lost love and becomes beguiled by a raven that speaks only one word, "nevermore."
Write about the poetic language and imagery. Does the poet use precise and vivid vocabulary to create detailed images? What literary devices are used to enhance meanings? Answer these questions by explaining and analyzing specific examples from the poem. Tell how the poet creates those images. A good example of this would be the poetry essay found at Bookstove.com . The poetry essay analyzes Poe's use of simile and metaphor in "The Raven."
Write about sound and sense. Does the poet use rhythm and meter to create meaningful sounds in the poem or is it free verse? Does the poet use iambic pentameter or alliteration? Which word sounds does the poet use to create pictures? Does the poet use figurative language? Answer these questions by explaining in your poetry essay how the poet’s choice of words creates meaningful sound. For example, a poetry essay on Poe's "Raven" would show how the ABCBBB rhyme scheme helps to create a deeper sense of melancholy.
Write about emotion and feeling. Is the poet creating a feeling or mood? Does the poem evoke an emotional response? Do they use personification in their writing process or any figures of speech? Answer these questions in your poetry essay by explaining what kind of response the poet is trying to evoke in his audience through a particular poem. A poetry essay on "The Raven" would describe how the use of melancholy word choices and repetition, coupled with the creepy raven and mourning for the lost Lenore, create a deep sense of sadness and despair for the reader.
Write a conclusion to your poetry essay. Explain the author’s intent, point of view, writing style, and poetic techniques with the poem and whether or not he or she achieved that goal. Support your opinion with details from the poem. Also, do some research on background information. Is there a cultural context or historical context the poet is writing from? This could give the reader a better understanding of the poem.
Make sure to use quotation marks when quoting lines of poetry
You can use a writing service to check your spelling and grammar
How To Write A Critical Essay On Poetry
15 minutes reading time
- 01. How To Write A Poetry Essay A Level Style
- 02. Poem Analysis Essay Tips
- 03. Terms to Use in Poetry Analysis
It is one thing writing a descriptive thesis about a single subject , focusing on the ins and outs of the poem, its structure, its language and its style, but it is quite another to write a college essay in which you compare two or more poems .
Fortunately for you, we are here to explain to you how to outline your comparative discussion and how writing about poetic contrast during an exam is often easier than having to come up with numerous statements and ideas to write about just one single text.
For instance, we don't need to point out the fact that having multiple poems means that there is a higher number of points to discuss in your narrative composition. So, the pure fact that you are comparing two texts means that you can dedicate a whole paragraph, if not more, to simply pointing out the clear differences in the structure and flow of two poems!
Furthermore, if you are being asked to compare and contrast texts, it usually means that there are significant differences or at least an alternative point of view to pick up on. Whether these be in reference to the era during which they were written, the writing style that the poet has chosen to use, or the different angles adopted to emphasize the same theme or message, the chances are that you will find loads of avenues to explore in your descriptive essay .
Finally, by focusing your attention on comparison and contrast, you can develop a much better understanding and a deeper appreciation of each citation .
Check here to find poetry classes London.
For those on their way to completing their A Level exams and in need of some extra help and reassurance when it comes to their literature assessment, here are some tips on how to write an A-Level poetry essay.
How To Write A Poetry Essay A Level Style
Coming up with ideas for your research paper.
By the end of your A Level poetry course , you'll likely be familiar with a range of poets, poems and poetry styles but you may be surprised to know that the final exam often asks you to look at and contrasting two or more unseen poems .
Now, this doesn't necessarily mean that you will be faced with poems that you have never laid eyes on before, by poets you've never even heard of. All it means is that neither you or your teacher will know which revised poems might come up in the assessment . It may well be that a poem you did not study crops up, but by an author who you are quite familiar with.
Not having seen a particular poem before, far from what many people think, is not a disadvantage in a timed exam. In fact, some might say that it works in their favour.
Being faced with a whole new set of words and stanzas to analyse is quite refreshing and if you apply all of the things you have learned over your GCSE and A Level course then you should have absolutely no problem finding leads to follow or points to argue.
Remember that, even if you aren't very informed about the poet or the era during which they lived, you can often decipher hidden messages that might indicate when they were writing and what they were writing in response to . For example, if you find that a poem uses lots of words that are linked to battle, this evidence might be used to prove that the poem was written during the period of a war. Even though you may not know exactly which war, this still gives you something analytical to offer the examiner and a subject to use in your persuasive essay. Even if it is wrong, it may be an important element that the poet was trying to put in there.
In order to get this first impression that you can then report on in your text, be sure to read all of the texts thoroughly before starting to plan and write your essay . Your introductory paragraph, or thesis statement, might include a brief summary of each poem and set out a few observations that you'd like to look at in more detail further into your poetic analysis .
Remember that this will be a timed assessment so you only have so many minutes in which to read, plan, and write your essay. As such, don't give yourself too much to cover and find that you have to rush your conclusion to bring the comparison to an end (or worse, that you end up with an unfinished essay). Pick out a few points that are relevant to the question being asked and focus on expanding on them as much as possible during your critique.
Don't forget, if you want the examiner to see that you've noticed other things in the poems, then you can always refer to them briefly whilst backing up one of your other arguments.
Finally, remember to not only focus on the historical context or themes of the poem but to also demonstrate your understanding of intellectual poetry techniques . So, as well as exploring the ideas, attitude, and tone of the poems, be sure to look out for structure, form, and literary techniques used by the poet .
See some poetry classes here.
Structuring Your Timed Essay
When it comes to writing a paper, the main thing to remember is that you need to have an introduction, the main body, and a conclusion , just like any other term paper you have written in the past. Yet one thing that may not have crossed your mind as being imperative is to write an equal amount on each of the poems that you are discussing . Ultimately, without dedicating the same amount of time to each text, there is no way you can analyse the poems effectively in the comparative way the examiner wants.
Imagine if you wrote an essay where you discussed one poem for four paragraphs and then referred to the second poem in one single paragraph, the flow of the analysis would be completely off-balance and the examiner would only really be able to mark you on your direct analysis of the one poem that has taken centre-stage.
Ideally, each paragraph of your essay should address one or more specific poetic elements or aspects of the works in question. Furthermore, each paragraph should contain a dissection of both works, rather than expounding on only one poem. You might strive for something along these lines:
Poem XYZ expounds of the narrator's perception of his mother's love, whereas poem ABC describes a mother's unconditional love for her child.
With this opening line, you have pointed at the theme of the poems - parental love. You have also uncovered an important difference between the two: perspective. That opening sentence paints a contrast between the two works which you would explore in depth throughout the paragraph.
Note the use of 'whereas' in this sentence. Used as a conjunction, one of its meanings is, literally, ' while in contrast '. As your assignment is to compare and contrast, using this conjunction is perfectly acceptable.
On the other hand...
The students were eagerly anticipating their marked papers and the teacher did not disappoint. As soon as class started, she handed her students their essays back. One student in particular was dismayed to find that she had scored poorly. Most curiously, her teacher had written, across the top: how many hands do you have?
On the one hand, it is perfectly acceptable to use 'on the other hand' to preface a comparison or contrast. On the other hand, it is not acceptable to use it as the only indication of comparison throughout your entire essay!
In fact, that is what had cost that student points off her grade: every single comparison was introduced with the phrase 'on the other hand' , leading the teacher to wonder how many hands that essay writer intended to employ!
While some forms of repetition are considered literary devices - parallel structure being a case in point, using the same transitional phrase throughout your work will surely cost you in points!
It might help you to study alternate phrases and incorporate a few into your personal lexicon. That way, when one is needed, you have an entire arsenal at your disposal!
If you can, jot down a table or checklist of similarities and differences during your planning phase and then roughly set out the essay paragraph by paragraph to ensure that it looks even. Not only will this be a helpful guide as you start writing, it will also keep you on track. You don't necessarily have to keep the analysis paper in chronological order.
Your table might look something like this:
Once you have developed your ideas in such a brainstorming session, crafting your essay is a piece of cake!
Structuring an essay is actually much easier than people think. What the examiner wants to see is that you can clearly explain a point, justify it and then ask questions about why that is important to the overall text . So, for example, just like the essay as a whole, each point you make should ideally be made up of an introduction, middle section, and a conclusion.
The BBC Bitesize website likens this process with a sandwich, suggesting that the two pieces of bread are the intro and conclusion and the layers of filling are made up of each individual point you make in response to that argument. Others also talk about the technique being like a hamburger.
Remember, a plain beef burger with no sauce or fillings makes for quite a dry hamburger , and it's much the same with your essay.
Poem Analysis Essay Tips
Check What The Examiner Expects Of You Before you start writing any kind of poetry analysis, you should always be certain of what is expected of you . To find out what the English examiner is looking for in a good thesis, visit your exam board's website and look for the Mark Scheme, Examiner's Notes and any other documents you can find and cross-reference these with the specimen question papers to get a good idea on what you should be doing when your final exam comes around.
Although your English Instructor will no doubt offer you guidance and set useful homework and classroom tasks , don't underestimate the benefit of doing past papers. As such, do as many of the available specimen papers that you can and don't just settle for doing the bare minimum! We don't recommend using an essay writing service for your coursework or as an exemplary revision resource because you simply can't guarantee that they are genuine , professional writers nor can you be certain that work hasn't been plagiarized. Be confident and stick to your own work!
Proofreading Is Key Remember to leave yourself enough time at the end of a timed exam to read through your work, check for any obvious spelling mistakes, and to ensure it is coherent . It can be quite easy to get ahead of yourself when you are faced with a deadline so taking time to check over the wording on your literary essay can actually help you to strengthen your response. Depending on the requirements, you may like to use some of this time adding a bibliography, checking things like capitalization and looking out for repetition.
Practice Putting Poetry Into Your Own Words Putting a poem into your own words not only shows that you understand what the poem is about , it also helps you to gain a better understanding and a deeper appreciation of the message trying to be conveyed by the poet. Some poems, specifically those written centuries ago, are quite hard to read aloud so why not add an informal annotation underneath each line to make the wording a bit easier to decipher as you go back and forth between the poems during the exam?
Remember To Reference Any Quotations. You may have written down some distinctive quotes on your revision cards , or you may simply want to paraphrase what a poet or critic has said from memory, but either way, it is important that you do so properly. Any words that aren't your own should be referenced using quotation marks (if a direct quote) or by making it clear that a particular sentence is an opinion of another individual.
Brush Up On Your Poetry Terms You simply can't expect to rack up those top marks if you don't have the knowledge and expertise to back up your ideas . Showing that you know a wide range of literary terms and poetry techniques will help to impress the examiner. That said, it is just as important to understand what the terms mean as it is to know their names. The examiner won't be fooled if you simply reel off a list of terms, saying that they are included in the poem but without explaining where each one crops up and why.
Starting taking poetry courses online.
Terms to Use in Poetry Analysis
-Rhyme scheme: the pattern of rhyming words - typically, the last word of every poem line.
Rhyme schemes are generally indicated by a combination of letters , AB, CD and so forth. If you wish to describe a scheme in which alternating lines rhyme, you would use ABAB. However, if the first line rhymes with the last and the middle two lines rhyme, the designation ABBA would be correct.
Note: most Shakespeare quatrains are written in the ABAB scheme.
-Meter: which syllables in each line of poetry are stressed.
Poetry, by its very nature and definition, is meant to be rhythmic ; indeed that very rhythm contributes to the tone and meaning of the work itself.
By alternating stress with lack of stress when reading each line, you may arrive at a different tone for that work altogether!
-Iambic Pentameter: the perfect example of meter in poetry!
The name itself, pentameter, indicates that there will be 5 stressed syllables, each one alternating with an unstressed that should sound like so:
Consider this stanza:
As I was walking down the street one day, / The sun from behind clouds came out to play.
Here, not only do you have five feet - five stressed syllables contrasting with five unstressed, you also have an AA rhyming scheme!
The Bard make great use of the iambic pentameter when writing his sonnets... so do select rock songs!
-Metaphor: a figure of speech employing a known object or situation to represent something figurative.
A writer's job is to paint pictures with words. S/he does so by using words and phrases that create vivid images in the readers' minds.
Naturally, you are not expected to be an author on par with great historical essay writers such as Ralph Waldo Emerson or Lewis Carroll. However, you can and should make use of metaphors in your analysis, where appropriate. For example:
"The tone of poem XYZ sends the reader's heart soaring into a cloudless, springtime sky. However, poem ABC fills those skies with dark clouds, reflecting the author's own gloom."
As you might have guessed, in neither poem does a sky feature. Nevertheless, using the sky as a metaphor for the tone of the poems is apt in more than one way: the sky lies above us just as a poem's tone 'oversees' the words it comprises of.
Examples of well-known metaphors include:
- I am boiling mad!
- It's clear sailing from now on.
- I'll ask my teacher, but it will be an uphill battle to get her to change my marks.
- What pearls of wisdom will he dispense today?
Beware not to misuse a metaphor as a simile!
-Simile: a figure of speech that compares two unlike things (situations, objects, etc.)
Many people confuse similes with metaphors because their use and purpose is quite nearly the same. In each case, the writer is creating a visual for the reader to better get a sense of what s/he intended to convey.
Let us look at two examples of describing a madman:
'He was quite mad.' versus 'he was mad as a hatter!'
The first sentence conveys the impression that that poor soul was to be pitied; after all, he couldn't help being mad, could he? However, the second sentence indicates that not only is this man mad but he must be the very spectacle of madness!
Similes are generally recognised by 'like', 'than' or 'as', preceding the comparison. Here are a few examples of similes:
- Shopping is more fun than a barrel of monkeys!
- Her laughter is like crystal, tinkling in the breeze.
- He's as strong as an ox!
- This exam is so easy, it's like shooting fish in a barrel.
You might use similes in your poetry analysis to distinguish differences in tone (as different as night and day), theme (as grating as nails on a blackboard), structure (constructed like cookie-cutter houses) or content (it's like comparing apples and oranges).
-Setting: either a literal or figurative place where the action or situation occurs
Although it would seem like a minor consideration to the overall work, setting is critical to poetry (or any other type of writing) because it helps the reader develop a connection to the narrative.
It may used to help identify the characters, create a conflict for the character(s) to resolve or even be an antagonist that the characters must vanquish. It can help set the tone and the mood of the piece; most certainly it would act as a backdrop.
The works' setting may be explicitly described or merely implied. However they are presented, don't neglect to touch upon them in your essay!
In fact, a poem's setting offers a wealth of analysis opportunity.
-Allegory: a literary device, usually in the form of a metaphor, meant to deliver a broader message.
Should you read a story or poem that resonates on a completely different level , meaning you see a parallel between this work of fiction and real-world occurrences, you may have found an allegory!
Beware, however, that this supposed allegory is not a fable .
The difference between those two types of works is slight but profound. A fable is meant to reinforce a truth or precept while an allegory represents abstract principles.
You may be familiar with H.G. Wells' Animal Farm , a classic example of allegory meant to depict the overthrow of the Russian Tsarist system. However, in spite of the fact that this allegory uses animals - as most fables do, it could in no way be considered a fable.
Should you discover, during your exam, that one of your texts is allegorical and the other more of a fable, you may consider contrasting that aspect of those works in your essay.
-Alliteration: when the same letter or sound starts a series of words
If you entertain your friends with your ability to utter tongue twisters to perfection, you may already be familiar with alliteration.
In fact, the above sentence includes an alliteration!
Here is a stylistic element that, in poetry, could be used to emphasise a line or stanza of particular import, or even to stress an important characteristic - either of the narrative itself or of the poem's theme.
Alliteration is fairly common in poetry so, if the works you are comparing each contain alliterations, you might write a paragraph about the differences between them.
-Assonance: repetition of a vowel sound or diphthong
Whereas alliteration repeats consonant sounds; assonance does so with vowels . Assonance is quite common in proverbs; the vowel sounds those words have in common help make those phrases memorable:
The squeaky wheel gets the grease.
The second, third and sixth words all have the same consonant sound , making this sentence a perfect example of assonance.
Beware, though: the words must be noticeably close together ; within the same line or sentence. You can't scan the entire work for similar-sounding vowel combinations and call them assonance!
-Caesura: essentially, a pause
As the old joke goes: "And she talked on, never pausing for breath..."
In fact, we all pause for breath at strategic points in our verbal narrations, but how to find those breaks in poetry? Fortunately, poets make it easy for us through a variety of ways: punctuation, the natural rhythm of the work or by the 'll' symbol .
Caesura are broadly divided into 'male' and 'female' with the latter a softer stop than the former.
- Feminine caesura appear after non-stressed or short syllables ; such as a past tense (-ed) or progressive (-ing) ending.
- Masculine caesura occurs after long or accented syllables - those that end in a consonant pair(-rd, ck, st...), or plurals.
The use of caesura in poetry can be used to convey tone or mood; thus it makes an excellent instrument for comparing two works!
-Enjambment: no pause at the end of a stanza, line or couplet
In opposition of the caesura comes the enjambment, used to convey heightened emotion or a running thought , although sometimes it is used to trick the reader by presenting a conflicting idea in the very next line:
Among the bracken and thorns / Beautiful red roses bloom.
-Hyperbole: an exaggeration
Does one ever really think of poetry as humorous? It can be and one way that the writer demonstrates that literary tickle is with the use of hyperbole.
Still she, with skirts large as a circus tent, was only on his love intent.
Here, making use of a simile as a hyperbole to bring about a comical image (who could really have such a large skirt?) the writer meant to create a picture of a lovelorn woman pursuing unrequited love.
Naturally, one should not take the hyperbole seriously...
-Satire: a humorous, ironic, exaggerated or ridiculous criticism
Have you ever seen any political cartoons ? If so, you have had exposure to satire. Do you know any limericks? If so, you may be familiar with the use of satire in poetry.
Contrary to the overarching belief that all poetry must be beautiful, wistful and romantic, poetry can also be scathing and scorning.
Might you encounter such works in the course of your exam? If so, be sure to highlight the odes' satirical tones!
-Personification: literally render into a person.
Trees, animals... even emotions and situations can be personified in poetry. This is a way for the author to give the work life, motion... maybe even fluidity!
The peaks rear'd up, in a ring, as a band of patriarchs who would surround a newborn heir...
By turning an ancient mountains into kindly grandfathers who, most likely, watch over the people living in those shadows, the writer has personified the landscape into a benevolent protector.
Take note of any personification in the works you are assigned to analyse; as personification is a tool widely used in poetry , surely you could find points to compare between personifications!
Final thought: while anyone may notice the larger differences between two poems, perhaps, recognising and writing your comparative essay on these finer points listed above might earn you higher marks.
Good luck! Let us know how you get on, will you?
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Experienced writer with a love of developing stories and engaging readers. Jess is passionate about reading, learning and discovering new cultures through traveling.
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