How can one perform a literary stylistic analysis on a poem?

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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The main characteristic of a literary stylistic analysis is that it investigates how the poem is written rather than the subject matter of a poem. Rather than talk about the meaning or theme of a poem, in a stylistic analysis you look at the specific details of language and literary technique. 

The first element of a stylistic analysis is usually to determine the meter of the poem. A poem can be written in either free verse or it can have a regular pattern of rhyme and rhythm. If the pattern is a regular one, you should describe it using the appropriate technical terms, such as "heroic couplet", "terza rima sonnet", or "anapestic tetrameter". 

Next, you should discuss genre. Although some poems are sui generis, many follow standard generic conventions, such as those of the elegy or pastoral. 

Finally, you should look for the use of figures of speech, such as simile, metaphor, alliteration, chiasmus, impersonation, gradatio, or allegory.

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