How do you analyze a poem with as much detail as possible?I don't feel like the poems I have to write an outline for and then a commentary have the features or set up to do so. I've learned how to...

How do you analyze a poem with as much detail as possible?

I don't feel like the poems I have to write an outline for and then a commentary have the features or set up to do so. I've learned how to write about a passage, but I feel like poems are a bit more complicated.

Expert Answers
stolperia eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Providing concrete suggestions regarding how to analyze a poem is difficult when you don't provide the specific poem(s) you could analyze. Because poetry frequently follows a different structure than prose, it may seem more difficult to identify elements within a given poem.

Whatever poem you have to analyze, there is some sort of structure - even if that means saying that it is free verse with no set meter or pattern of rhyme. Think about the word choice within the poem and what you hear when you read it aloud, what you feel while thinking about the meanings of the words, what you picture in your mind as you internalize the poem. Analyzing these emotional reactions could become part of your commentary. What story does the poem tell? Is there symbolic language that could be interpreted to give the poem more than one level of meaning? If so, what are the various interpretations, how are they related to each other, why would the poet want to convey these messages in this way?

The analysis process is much the same as for prose. You just have a different format as your starting point.

kelleypen | Student

When I analyze a poem, I look at it several ways.

First, I read it aloud to see how it makes me feel.  I do this not only for the meaning, but to find what words and phrases sound delicious to me.  I find where the sensory imagery is that makes it come alive--tactile, olfactory, gustatory, visual, and auditory images.

Next, I look for literary devices--onomatopoeia, alliteration, allusion, et cetera. I formally find the rhythm and rhyme scheme.  I look to see if the pattern is a closed or an open one.

Then, I listen to the tone, the overall feeling. I ask what it means to me.  I look at its historical context, and read about the author.  Does this change the meaning, deepen it, or leave it unaffected?  If I can find an audio of the poet reading it, I listen to it and hear how it differs from how I read it.

Finally,  I decide whether I like it or not and if I do,  do I want to make it mine and memorize all or part of it.  I take all these pieces, combine them, and write my analysis.