Hi! How do you analyze poetry?

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wordprof | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Poetry separates itself from other writing in distinct ways.  First, there is one narrator, often first-person ("I wish I were a bird all full of flight"). Second, it deals with the connotation of words (their emotional effect and the way the words have been used in the past) as much as or more than their denotation (definition).  Finally, the words are arranged by rhythm, sound, line length, and number of lines (iamb, trochee, etc.; rhymes and repetition of vowel and/or consonant sounds; tetrameter, pentameter, etc.; and stanzas).  So, the way to "analyze" a poem is to discuss these features, toward finding the poem's "meaning" (a term made irrelevant by "new criticism").  A better way to "approach" a poem is to ask yourself how the poem's structure (all of the above) functions to evoke whatever response you are feeling or sensing.

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