What does it mean when a student is asked to analyze a poem such as "A Thousand Million Questions"?I JUST DONT GET the analyzing part. It is very confusing.

Expert Answers
scarletpimpernel eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I understand your frustration because it is one shared by many students.  What normally happens when a reader studies a poem is that he/she looks for theme, poetic devices--such as metaphor, symbolism, or rhyme--and lists examples from the poem of those devices being used.

When a teacher asks you to analyze the poem, it is not sufficient to simply identify.  You do need to do that, but then take it a step farther.  The analysis results from your asking "Why"? For example: Why does an author use a specific symbol (how does that symbol connect to his theme or subject)?  Why does the author included assonance for specific words in a poem--is he stressing the meaning or connotations of those words?

Here's an example or analysis from the lyrics you mentioned ("Thousand Million Questions").

Lines 8-9 read:

"Why do we never get an answer when we're knocking at your door/ With a thousand million questions about hate and death and war?"

Analysis: In Lines 8 and 9 of the poem, the speaker refers once again to the metaphorical "door" and then identifies the subject of his questions: "hate and death and war." The writer chooses to phrase this list of weighty topics with the repetition of conjunctions (polysyndeton) rather than using typical commas because each word carries equal significance, and the repetition of the conjunction illustrates how compounded the problems of the day are. Similarly, the conjunctions cause the reader to slow down and ponder each word rather than skimming over a short series separated by commas.

The section in bold is the analytical part of the poem.  Yours does not have to be so long, but you need to discuss the "whys" of a work rather than simply the "whats" (identification).