How do you write a good comment on a poem or sonnet? 

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A sonnet is a specific type of poem. It generally consists of fourteen lines in two stanzas, one of eight lines and one of six lines. In the classic Petrarchan sonnet, the first stanza repeats an abba rhyme scheme, and the second stanza or sestet typically uses cdc dcd or ...

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A sonnet is a specific type of poem. It generally consists of fourteen lines in two stanzas, one of eight lines and one of six lines. In the classic Petrarchan sonnet, the first stanza repeats an abba rhyme scheme, and the second stanza or sestet typically uses cdc dcd or cdd cdc.

Interpreting poetry is highly dependent on the reader. There is no single right answer or interpretation. Some readers may respond more to the formal aspects, while others will be moved by the content; most of us appreciate a combination of both. The former US Poet Laureate Edward Hirsch has offered some insights to help readers “fall in love with poetry.” He notes that experiencing poetry is not simply reading; it is entering into a shared intimacy between writer and reader. The poet, for Hirsch, “activates my secret world”; they draw us into a community that is composed of other “solitaries” like ourselves, each of whom believes they have a unique insight.

Every insightful comment on a poem will have one common feature: honesty. The poet asks us to share an intimate experience of their own, and we as readers should reciprocate.

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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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