How would I write a critical appreciation of any poem? Please explain with an example.

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rmhope eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A simple way to structure a critical analysis of a poem is to follow a D-A-C format. "D" represents the denotation of the piece, or the face value meaning. Simply relate in straightforward terms what the poem is describing, or if it is a story poem, summarize the story. The "A" stands for appreciation. In this section, discuss the techniques the poet uses to create a powerful and/or lyrical effect. You might think about asking yourself why the poem is in your anthology, or why this poem has become famous or well loved. Think about both literary devices and sound devices. Literary devices include symbolism, figurative language (such as similes, metaphors, personification, metonymy, synecdoche, hyperbole, and understatement), and irony. Sound devices include rhyme, rhythm, meter, repetition, alliteration, consonance, assonance, and onomatopoeia. "C" stands for the connotation, or deeper meaning, of the poem. How do the face value meaning, the literary techniques, and sound devices work together to create a message about an important subject? 

As an example, here is a D-A-C analysis of "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud" by William Wordsworth. 

D: In this poem, the speaker tells us about taking a walk and coming upon a field thick with daffodils. Later, the speaker is able to remember that scene often, and each time it fills him with the same joy he experienced when he first saw the lovely field of flowers.

A: The poem is written in four six-line stanzas, each with a rhyme scheme of ababcc. Each line is consistently iambic pentameter in rhythm and meter. This gives the poem a lilting feeling, like taking a jaunty walk; the rhythm and meter reinforce the feeling of a happy outing. The poem uses two similes that compare the speaker to a floating cloud and the daffodils to stars. The first helps establish a peaceful mood for the poem while the second helps the reader visualize how many daffodils there were. The poet personifies the daffodils and the waves by saying they danced; the daffodils also "toss[ed] their heads." This helps create a happy mood. The number "ten thousand" is hyperbole, giving the reader a sense of the abundance of flowers the poet saw. The poet uses assonance in lines 21 - 22, repeating the short /i/ sound, which reinforces the contented feeling of the solitude the poet describes. In the final line, the alliteration and consonance of "dances with the daffodils" provides emphasis and creates a dancing rhythm. 

C: The poem points out how one happy experience in nature can have ongoing effects because the memories are so strong and so pleasant that they bring back the joy of the original experience.