What are the main steps to critical appreciation of a poem's subject and theme? 

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lhc eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In poetry, as in other forms of literature, one should consider the social or historical context of the poem, the author's intention, if it is known, and the literary elements the author has used to communicate his or her message.  For example, to understand appreciate William Butler Yeats' poem, "Easter, 1916," one must know that Yeats was an Irishman, and that the poem refers to an Irish uprising against the British the week of Easter in 1916.  To read it as anything other than a political commentary is to largely miss the point.  Poets use rhyme schemes to create rhythms, as in the example of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's "The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere," which has a drumlike progression of stressed and unstressed syllables that serves to mimic the sound the reader imagines of Revere's horse as its hoofbeats clatter across cobblestone.  Symbolism is an important element in many poems.  In Robert Frost's "Nothing Gold Can Stay", the reader is invited to contemplate the temporary nature of the color of leaves, sunrise, and ultimately and metaphorically, all good things in life, none of which are permanent.  Poets sometimes use personification to illustrate their ideas, as in this poem called "The Sound of the Sea," also by Longfellow, when he writes, "The sea awoke at midnight from its sleep. . . ."  Good authors, both in poetry and narrative, use imagery to create pictures in a reader's mind.  Consider these lines from Frost's "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening": 

". . .He will not see me stopping here to watch his woods fill up with snow/. . .The only other sound's the sweep of easy wind and downy flake/ . . .The woods are lovely, dark, and deep. . . ." 

Dark woods filling with snow, cold wind, soft flakes--all these images created by Frost add up to a poem that one can almost see and hear unfolding before one's eyes. 

shewa55 | Student

setting is the situation in which Tips on using the editing buttonspoem is written.

speaker is the speaker of the poem it may be poet or place or things.

theme is the main idea of the poem.

subject are the objects of the poem.

figurative language is the critical terms which are used in the poem,ie simile,metaphors.alliteration.epic simile,oxymoron,etc.

these things are very important for critical appreciation of poem.