Writing poetry analysis – structure, outline and tips

In a poem analysis there are some things to consider. Above all, it is important that the text makes sense structurally, that the poem is described in detail, and that the analysis is well grounded and justified.

Preparation of the poem analysis

Before beginning the analysis, it is important to look at the poem in detail. At best, read through the poem several times and mark and stylistic devices and note their effect directly on the poem. It is also helpful to make notes on the basic structure of the poem (meter, number of stanzas, rhyme scheme, etc).).

Structure and outline of the analysis

A poem analysis is composed of several parts. It begins with the introductory sentence and a brief summary of the structure, content and design of the poem. This is simply a matter of describing the poem. Then comes the actual analysis, and the poem is examined in chronological order for stylistic devices and their effect. The analysis is then summarized and the most important features are highlighted again to show how they support the main message and meaning of the poem.

Step one: Introduction

The poem analysis is introduced by a classic introductory sentence. This sentence should include the title and author of the poem, the date of composition should be mentioned and the poem must be assigned to one of the literary historical periods. It is important to briefly describe the subject of the poem. An example of the introduction might look like this: The poem "Title" from Author was Date and thus belongs to the literary historical epoch of the era. It thematizes short description of the topic.

Step two: main part – structure and composition of the poem

The introduction is followed by the main part. First, describe the structure of the poem. The number of stanzas and verses, whether the stanzas or verses each form a sentence, and the rhyme scheme and meter must be identified. The cadence can also be named.
This is followed by the analysis of the design of the poem. For this, it is essential to master the stylistic means and to be able to recognize them. It is advisable to proceed chronologically, i.e. stanza by stanza, and at the end of the main part to bring the whole, i.e. all stanzas, into context. For the detailed analysis you go back to the preliminary work by selecting the most relevant of the marked stylistic devices and analyzing them in detail. In the analysis you should make sure that not only the stylistic device is mentioned, but also its meaning and function for the poem.

Step three: Conclusion

In the final part of the analysis, the results are linked and the most important details are highlighted again. These can be frequently used stylistic devices, or a choice of words that particularly emphasizes the theme of the poem. In contrast to the main section, the focus here is not on the stylistic devices, but on their relation to the theme.

Follow-up of the poem analysis

When the text is ready, it should be read for possible correction and the notes of the preparation should also be skimmed again to avoid that an important aspect has not been mentioned.

Tips for poem analysis

The most important lyrical periods are (in chronological order) Baroque, Sturm und Drang, Classical, Romantic, Biedermeier, Realism, Impressionism, and Expressionism. You can recognize them by motifs typical for the respective era.

The meter can be recognized by the sequence of stressed and unstressed syllables:

  • Iamb: xXxX
  • Dactyl: XxxXxx
  • Trochee: XxXx
  • Anapaest: xxXxxX

Typical stylistic devices that occur frequently are, for example, metaphors, enjambments, alliteration, anaphors, or personification.

There is the cross rhyme (abab), the embracing rhyme (abba), and the couplet rhyme (aabb).

If the last syllable in the verse is stressed, it is a masculine cadence, otherwise (the last syllable is unstressed) it is a feminine cadence.

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