There are a lot of poems written by excellent poets which have absolutely no basis in the poet's life, and by trying to make a connection, you could actually be limiting your perspective of the poem. It is more difficult to get the "right answer" if you trying to make everything fit the biography. A better place to start is with the language, structure and syntax of the poem itself. Here are a few questions to ask yourself as you read a poem:
1. What is the title? Does the title suggest any idea of the topic or theme of the poem?
2. Read for the SENTENCE, not the line. Try to paraphrase each sentence.
3. As you read try to identify who the speaker of the poem is. Who is "telling the poem?" What is his/her attitude about the subject of the poem? Do not assume the speaker is the poet.
3. Make sure to be careful of pronouns -- try to identify the antecedent so that you know for sure what the pronoun represents.
4. Pay attention to "shift" words such as but, therefore, so, etc. These kinds of words signal a change in tone or purpose from previous lines.
5. Take note of the connotations of the diction of the poem.
6. Take note of other literary devices used. What purpose is served?
7. What is the overall theme of the poem? What truth of life is explored through the poem?
Take your time; use your checklist; and don't get discouraged! At the end of the day, the poem is just words on a page.