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How to write a good comment on a poem or sonnet?

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enlishystudent | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 18, 2012 at 2:18 AM via web

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How to write a good comment on a poem or sonnet?

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susan3smith | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted January 18, 2012 at 5:06 AM (Answer #1)

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Analysis of poetry can be difficult, but there are a few important guidelines to keep in mind.  First, identify the speaker and the situation of the poem.  The speaker is not always the poet, and knowing if the speaker is a grieving son, a joyful nature lover, a murderous husband, or a thankful lover is helpful in determining the major ideas of the poem.  Next consider the basic situation.  What is being described or narrated?  Now,identify the tone.  How does the speaker feel about the subject of the poem? Is the speaker nostalgic, optimistic, mournful?  Does the speaker's tone change?  If so, how and when?   

Once these basics are determined, you should put them in your introduction. End your introduction with a sentence that states, as you see it, the main idea or purpose of the poem. 

 As you write about the poem, show how each stanza or line, if the poem is short, supports your interpretation of the speaker and his tone or attitude, the main idea or purpose of the poem.  Support your ideas with specific references to the poem.  Short relevant quotations are quite convincing.  Include in your discussion, an explanation of how the poet conveys ideas or tone.  Look at such techniques as imagery, metaphors, similes, and personfication as well as sound devices, such as alliteration, assonance, or rhymes.  It's quite important to understand how the poet creates tone or conveys ideas.  This blending of interpretation of ideas and discussion of the techniques used to convey these ideas will result in a solid commentary.  Good luck. 

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