Critical Appreciation

What is the format of writing a critical appreciation of a poem?

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In writing a critical appreciation, the reader must use their own point of view based on their understanding of the text. Ideally, the reader will discuss the poetic techniques used, as well as what they see as the poem's meaning, and then finalizing the argument by explaining how those two, the techniques and meaning, are tied together.


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To write a critical analysis of a poem, first discuss the poetic techniques the poet uses, then discuss the poem's meaning, both the denotation and the connotation. Finally, discuss how the poetic techniques reinforce the poem's meaning.

When you discuss the poet's techniques, you will want to comment on the rhythm, rhyme scheme, and meter. Traditional verse often uses standard rhythms such as iambic (alternate syllables are stressed beginning with the second syllable of the line) or trochaic (alternate syllables are stressed beginning with the first syllable of a line). To determine this, you may need to perform a scansion of the entire poem, noting the stressed and unstressed syllables. This will allow you to see how consistent the rhythm is. Meter refers to the number of feet (repeated syllable groups) in a line, such as trimeter (three), tetrameter (four), and pentameter (five). To determine the rhyme scheme, assign a new letter of the alphabet to each line that does not rhyme with a previous line, and label rhyming lines with the same letter. Note any repetitive patterns, for example, if the rhymes from one stanza interlock with those of the next stanza. Other poetic techniques include alliteration, consonance, assonance,personification, similes, metaphors, and symbols.

When discussing the meaning of the poem, first think about its denotation, or face value meaning. For example, William Wordsworth's "We Are Seven" is about the persona's conversation with a young girl whose siblings have died but whom she continues to number among her family members. Then consider the connotation, or deeper meaning. This will include the theme of the poem---the message or universal truth it conveys. This gets subjective, but as long as you can support your opinion from the text of the poem, your ideas are valid. Connotations of "We Are Seven" might include that children deal with death better than adults do, or that even death cannot separate people who truly love each other.

Finally, attempt to connect the poet's techniques with...

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