To analyze a poem, read it, consider the subject and context, study the poem's form, analyze word choice and question the purpose of the poem. Timing for analyzing a poem varies and requires knowledge of general poetry terms.
- Read the poem
Read the poem all the way through a first time. With a pencil, make notes in the margin. Circle noteworthy phrases or difficult-to-understand wording.
- Examine the subject
After reading the title and the poem, determine the subject of the poem, or try to figure out what the poem is about.
- Dig deeper into the subject
Read the poem again, and paraphrase the poem. Determine what the author's attitude toward the topic is based on word choice and phrasing. Try reading the poem aloud to gain a better understanding of the poem and subject.
- Put the poem in context
Look for clues in the poem about its historical and cultural context. These clues can include allusions to well-known figures or topics. Consider the poet's time period, age and culture.
- Study the poem's form
Using basic poetry terminology, analyze the form of the poem for rhyme scheme, meter, mood and tone. Look for figurative language, such as metaphors, similes and personification. Analyze how the language adds to the poem.
- Question the poem
Look over all the notes taken about the poem. For the best analysis, attempt to determine the purpose of the poem.