Reading a poem aloud is a good idea as some of the meaning may reveal itself when you intone it. While you read the poem, keep a paper and a pencil handy to write down anything that strikes you as being special.
When you read all your notes at the end, you may see that the meaning is revealed or you can use the jottings as starting points for further enquiry. Poets like to use poetic devices for special effects. This may help to highlight the meaning or hide it. Breaking the poem into segments will enhance your understanding further. The segments that can further your understanding are content, language, imagery, form and syntax. There may be instances where these segments overlap or merge.
Content: Your enquiry should focus on the speaker. Does the poet speak in his own voice or is it a third person who is omniscient who narrates? Are you able to gather the period referred to? Tone: Does the tone vary and does it influence content? Many poems start off on one tone but the by the end, it is quite different. All poems have some point of tension or conflict. Can it be identifies as philosophical, spiritual, social or emotional? How do the poetic elements affect the tension? Does remain or is it resolved by the end?
Context: What is the historical, social or political background of the poem? Does the poet have any professed views that affect his treatment of the poem?
Language: The choice of words can be a key to understanding the better. Is it casual or formal? Are dialectal forms of a language used? Does the language influence the emotional appeal? Do the words used have a special connotation? Are they concrete or abstract? What about repetitions? Rhythm: when you read a poem you may be able to discern a particular rhythm. It could be due to repetitions of sounds (alliteration), stresses or the natural cadence of the language.
Imagery: Most new readers find imagery confusing especially when they are abstract or indicate things strange to you. How does...