How to analyze a poem for A-level papers
Analyzing poetry is like removing a tumor. You need to pay close attention to all aspects of the tumor- size, how far it has spread, how quickly it is spreading etc- before you begin to remove it. One small inaccuracy can make the situation shoddier than what you started off with. Similarly, in poetry, all facets- language, structure, sound- need to be taken into consideration. If one (or more) of these features are disregarded, you will be miles away from the actual interpretation of the poem.
Even though this may sound juvenile, you must read the poem a couple of times before you begin to analyze it and look up any unfamiliar words you come across. After the first read, jot down any ideas or thoughts that come to mind. This step is surpassingly significant as it gives you, the reader, a general picture of the poem.
While reading the poem, try to figure out the mood of the poem. Think about how you feel at the end of the poem- joyful? miserable? annoyed? in awe? petrified? This will most likely be the mood of the poem. Also check to see if the mood is constant throughout the poem or changes within it and the implication of this.
Next, classify it into a lyric poem- a poem expressing the thoughts and feelings of the speaker- or a narrative- a poem telling a story. A lyric poem can be further categorized into a sonnet (a 14-line poem with a specific rhyme scheme) or an ode (a formal poem with a very somber tone). Examples of a narrative poem include a ballad (a poem that tells a story similar to a folk tale or prodigy) or an epic (a lengthy poem about a hero).
The three main things to consider while analyzing a poem are the structure or form, sound pattern and the language used in the poem.
The questions to ask yourself while analyzing the structure are how many stanzas there are in the poem, how many lines there are in one stanza and how long the lines are. These questions will help you...