I need help annotating the poem "An Anthem."

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kmcappello eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Annotating a poem is simply putting your analysis of the work in writing.  Oftentimes, the annotation is made by writing notes directly on a copy of the poem.  Or, you may be asked to write a more formal annotation in the form of an essay.  Sometimes a teacher will give you instructions on specific things to look for when annotating a poem, but sometimes not.  If you have been given no specifics, there are still some steps you can follow when working with a specific poem.

The first thing you want to look at is the structure of the poem.  Is it a particular form or rhyme scheme?  Does it have a regular meter?  Do its stanzas have the same number of lines?  Are the lines short, long, or varied?  Remember when looking at the poem's structure to also consider how that structure affects or is in relation to the subject matter.

Next, look for literary devices.  Does the poet use devices that manipulate sound such as alliteration or slant rhyme?  Does he or she employ simile or metaphor?  Is there a particular point of view?  Are there characters or a story line?  Again, remember when identifying these literary devices to interpret how they relate to the poem's content.

When looking at the content itself, you might want to identify and discuss any dominant themes, along with any particular words or phrases that stand out or seem important.  Often, a poet will use repetition to draw your attention to a point he or she is trying to make.

There are many other things to look for, or listen for.  Does the poet evoke a specific tone or voice?  Is the language formal or casual?  How do the speaker of the poem and the poet compare or differ?

And finally, consider what this poem says to you in particular.  Do you like the poem?  Do you agree or disagree with the sentiments?  Are you confused?  Frustrated?  Excited?  Do words or phrases in the poem remind you of another poem, or a movie, song, dream, past experience?  Does the speaker make you think of someone else: a fictional character, a celebrity, a historical figure?  Remember to be honest here; if you don't like or agree with the poem, don't be afraid to say so.  Just explain why.

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An Anthem

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