Poetry Analysis

Poetry Analysis

Consider these following areas when analyzing poetry.


How are the stanzas arranged? Is there a purposeful design to how the stanzas and breaks are arranged? How does the structure contribute to the meaning? structural devices: recurring images or cyclical points, stanza, rhyme, fixed rhyme, genre (narrative, lyric, dramatic, epic), form (sonnet, limerick, etc.), repetition, anaphora, punctuation, enjambment, caesura, polysyndeton vs asyndeton

Check out the Rhetorical Tropes (Literary Terms) at https://www.mrsmacfarland.com/dp-curriculum/literary-terms

Word Choice

How does the author’s diction contribute to the meaning? How would you describe the poet's language?

euphonious vs. cacophonous

connotative vs. denotative

concrete vs. abstract

colloquial vs. formal

impressionistic vs. detailed

realistic vs. idealized

crude vs. sophisticated

exaggerated vs understated

imaginative vs. prosaic

descriptive vs. plain, vivid vs. obscure

loaded language vs. understated language

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Elements of Literature

How do literary elements help develop or enhance meaning? What tropes (figurative language) and sound devices are use to enhance the meaning?

types of imagery: visual, gustatory, olfactory, organic, tactile, kinesthetic

tropes: simile, metaphor, personification, allusion, hyperbole, litotes, apostrophe, symbolism, motif, synecdoche, metonymy, irony

sound devices: alliteration, onomatopoeia, consonance, assonance

Check out the Rhetorical Tropes (Literary Terms) at https://www.mrsmacfarland.com/dp-curriculum/literary-terms

Persona of the speaker

What do you know about the speaker of the poem? Is there a specific persona (the way the speaker behaves, thinks, or feels) that is being presented ? Consider what pronouns are used.

speaker, persona, first person point of view, second person point of view, third person point of view

types of statements: declarative, imperative (commands), exclamatory, interrogative (questions)

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How does the poet convey his attitude in the work through his language? Are there significant tone shifts, and how do they contribute to the main ideas?

negative tones: melancholy, caustic, irate, satiric, critical, indignant, bitter, condescending, judgmental positive tones: reverent, lighthearted, optimistic, hopeful, loving neutral tones:reminiscent wistful, apathetic, speculative, meditative, objective

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Time and Place

How does the setting influence the themes? How is the setting significant to understanding the main ideas? If the setting is not concrete, how does the imagery in the poem create an overall mood or atmosphere in the poem?

geographical: climate, terrain historical: politics, time period, events, wars, etc.

social: beliefs, custom, values, gender roles/expectations, class structure, etc.

atmosphere of the setting: mood developed by the author e.g. gloomy, ominous, foreboding, magical, etc.


How does the author’s language shape the development of theme? The theme is a universal statement about human nature. This is like life because….

  • How does the progression of ideas contribute to the development of a universal theme?

  • How does the language develop a universal insight of theme?

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