How to Write a Critical Analysis of a Poem
When you know how to write a critical analysis of a poem, you can enable the readers of your critical analysis to understand the language and symbols that the author of the poem uses better. A critical analysis is a form of subjective writing in which the writer expresses his/her evaluation or opinion of a text. A poem on the other hand is a form of writing that takes the nature of a song and a speech and it is almost rhythmical in most cases and usually metaphorical exhibiting different formal elements which include a stanzaic structure, rhyme and meter. A critical analysis of a poem therefore should break down a poem and study its parts to give the evaluation or opinion of the entire piece.
A step-by-step guide on how to write a critical analysis of a poem
While writing poems, authors are very deliberate with their choice of words as well as the format that they use to convey meaning. Most poets hope that their poems will be read aloud. This is why they strive to maintain high lyrical quality. Others strive to maintain interesting rhythms in punctuating the elements of their poems. As you write a critical analysis of a poem, depict an intimate appreciation of it.
Step 1: Read the poem
To critique a poem, you should read it severally to understand what the speaker is saying or what the main message of the poem is. If there are unusual or difficult words, find their meaning. In most cases, the title will give you the summary or general meaning of the main idea or thought that is being presented.
Step 2: Know who the speaker is
The speaker in a poem can be an elderly person, a child, a shepherd, a student, a swordsman, a sailor, a milkmaid, an animal or an object such as a chair, a place or a mountain. Speakers in poems speak differently.
Step 3: Identify the main theme of the poem
Start your critical analysis by identifying the major or specific theme in the poem that gives it a larger meaning. To identify this theme, you need to consider or study the entire poem including its title. Maybe the poem that you are analyzing is about losing innocence, growing old, or importance of preserving the environment. The overarching or major theme of a poem can come out clearly or it can be hidden in its presentation and words.
Step 4: Establish the context
The context gives the location and time of a poem. This is usually what prompts the creation of a poem. A poem can be prompted by a political event which has a great importance in the history of a country.
Step 5: Identify inter-textuality
This implies that a poem looks back to another poem. This is also called reference. If a poem has this aspect, include it in your analysis and show how it enhances the message or its delivery.
Step 6: Identify the genre of the poem
Genre is simply the category. There are characteristics and rules of each genre. For instance, a poem that comprises of a long narrative dealing with demi-gods or divine figures and describing incredible journeys or terrible wars that determine humanity fate is called an epic poem. A sonnet on the other had is a short poem with 14 lines in which intimate emotions are expressed. Other poem genres include mock-epic, lyric, ballad, parody and ode among others.
Step 7: Create a checklist for your critical analysis
You should come up with a checklist that will guide you as you review or analyze the poem. A checklist will enable you to analyze or dissect the poem into separate pieces in order to understand it as a complete piece better. For instance, you can come up with a checklist that includes the title, genre, viewpoint, setting, meter, rhyme scheme, context or conflict. Make the elements in your checklist your guide while writing the critical analysis of the poem.
Step 8: Review the poem’s plot
While reviewing the plot, answer the following questions after reading the poem:
- What is going on in the poem?
- Who is affected by what is going on?
Your answers to these questions will enable you to understand what exactly the poem is describing. This will enable you to apply the meaning of the poem in the analysis.
Step 9: Analyze the poem’s rhyme scheme
Note that, not every poem has a rhyme. Nevertheless, most poems are written with the hope that they will be read aloud and therefore they have a rhyme scheme. Perhaps, this is one of the most important steps of a guide on how to write a critical analysis of a poem because you must read and analyze the poem carefully to notice its rhyme scheme. Before you conclude that the poem under analysis does not have a rhyme scheme, read it aloud with a friend or alone. Listen to its sound instead of simply looking at its words. This will enable you to identify its rhyme scheme and analyze it.
Step 10: Analyze the format
A poem can be a free form. This means that it does not have an identifiable pattern. It can also have a unique writing scheme. The format of a poem is usually a deliberate choice of style or act by the writer. Describe the format chosen by the author in your critical analysis and what it could mean as well as how it hinders or help in communicating the message.
Step 11: Analyze the used figurative language
Poetry uses a wide range of literary devices which include personification, metaphor, simile, metonymy and irony. Apart from constituting the body, these devices also demonstrate the control of language by the author. Therefore, it is highly important that you evaluate and analyze the use of figurative language in the poem.
Step 12: Create a thesis statement
On the basis of your comprehension of the meaning of the poem, create a thesis statement for your critical analysis. Note that while writing any academic piece, you should have a strong, clear thesis statement.
Step 13: Gather evidence from the poem to support the controlling idea or thesis statement
In the body of your critical analysis, cite actual lines of the poem to support your thesis. This will make your critical analysis credible and strong. Readers will get clues of where your thesis statement came from because it will have adequate supporting evidence from the poem.
Step 14: Write the analysis
At this step, you already know how to write a critical analysis of a poem and you have all the information required to write a critical analysis of a poem. Use your checklist to write your critical analysis.
Your critical analysis should include the following:
The introduction should include:
- Title of the poem under analysis
- Author of the poem
- Publication information
- Purpose or topic statement
- Thesis statement that indicates your reaction to the poem
- Description or summary of the poem
Provide a summary or brief description of the poem that you are analyzing critically.
- Evaluation or/and interpretation of the poem
Use your checklist to analyze or evaluate or discuss different aspects of the poem as described in the steps of this guide.
Draw conclusions from your analysis. Tell readers what was the goal or theme of the poem that you were analyzing, tools that were used in conveying the main idea or theme of the poem, how they were used and whether they were effective.
Bonus tips on how to write a critical analysis of a poem
While writing a critical analysis of a poem, try to help the writer and the reader know how the poem would have been made better. Provide suggestions on how the writer can improve the work. However, point out instances where the author is inconsistent or not clear and then provide concrete advice to the writer.
When critiquing the work of another person, be constructive. Do not say unnecessarily harmful things about the poem. If you must say something negative about the poem, provide supporting evidence.
- Review the content of the poem
In your critical analysis, say whether the author was redundant in terms of the used imagery or chosen words. For instance, did the author use varying syllables, meters and vowel rhymes? How did the author choose the words to use in the poem? Did the author use irony, similes, metaphors or symbolism properly? Were they used consistently?
- Use a sample of a critical analysis of a poem
To easily know how to write a critical analysis of a poem, use a critical analysis sample as your writing guide. A good sample will enable you to know where and how to present different elements of your analysis. You can find an example of a critical analysis of a poem here.
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Every author and poet have their own unique style that cannot be replicated. Based on how they think or what they are trying to portray, they create various poems to explore several ideas or theories that were on their mind.
Poetry analysis is simply . Normally, this review is conducted and recorded within the structure of a literary analysis essay. This type of essay writing requires one to take a deeper look at both the choices that a poet made and the overall effects of those choices. These papers require an in-depth analysis of all of the parts that were used to form a work of poetry.
Table Of Contents
Steps To Take Pre-Writing
In order to compose a poetry analysis essay, one must first read the poem carefully. It is definitely important to reread the literary piece several times so as to get a full grasp of the numerous ideas and concepts. This also gives you an opportunity to make note of the rhyme scheme (if there is one), the type of poem (Limerick, ode, sonnet, lyric, haiku, free verse, etc.) and other poetic techniques that the poet used (such as enjambment, meter, end-stopped lines, figurative language, etc.).
- Limerick: Limerick is a stanza of five lines, with the first, second and fifth rhyming with one another and having three feet of three syllables each; and the shorter third and fourth lines also rhyming with each other, but having only two feet of three syllables.
- Ode: Its structure - 10-line stanzas rhyming, with the 8th line iambic trimeter and all the others iambic pentameter
- Sonnet: A fourteen-line poem written in iambic pentameter. Was made famous by non-other than Shakespeare! (Shakespeare invented the word "swag"... just saying)
- Lyric: A lyric poem is a comparatively short, non-narrative poem in which a single speaker presents a state of mind or an emotional state. Rather than tell a story, the speaker talks about his thoughts using a specific rhyming style.
- Haiku: Invented by the Japanese, a haiku is a three-line poem with seventeen syllables, written in a 5/7/5 syllable count.
- Free-Verse: Rather simple, free verse is poetry that does not rhyme or have a regular rhythm.
All of those elements of the poem are essential to know when one is writing a poetry analysis essay because they are a part of the poem’s structure and can affect the content.
After covering the technical aspects of a poem, it is best to learn about the background of the poem. This means that one may find it beneficial to look up the poet, the date that the poem was written, and the cultural context of the work. All of that information typically gives the reader a more in-depth understanding of the poem, and it seems self-explanatory that one who has an enhanced comprehension of the poem would have an easier time conducting an analysis of that poem.
The final element of writing a poetry analysis essay is a part of the composition dedicated to the subject matter of the poem. This can be analyzed during the reader’s quest to determine the theme, tone, mood, and meaning of the poem. The subject matter – and the thematic elements that support the intended message behind the subject – is often an interpretive minefield.
Often, people have different ideas about what a poet is trying to say by their use of a subject, so unless the message is implicitly stated, it is best to state about what the poet may have meant and include evidence for these theories.
However, it is important to generally pick a side among the various theories that you have created. Though the author could have tried to portray several different ideas in theories, .
The writer should be careful to not mistake this with choosing a favorite opinion or biased one. They should be defending the one that carries the most weight or offers the most validation! As the essay is to be an analysis, opinions are to be avoided in favor of facts and conjectures that are backed by evidence from the work.
How To Choose A Topic
A great way to choose a topic for a poetry analysis essay is to decide on a topic that would deal with information that one is already familiar with. For example, if the choice of the poem to analyze is up to the writer, then it may be beneficial for the writer to choose a poem that he/she has encountered before. If the choice is to be made between different subject areas within a poem, then the writer could find it easier to choose to focus on writing about an area that plays to his/her strengths, so that the statements made in the essay are conveyed
A poetry analysis essay may seem like a daunting writing assignment at first, but if the topic, outline, and paper are composed following the aforementioned steps, the paper will no doubt, turn out very well.
Poetry Analysis Essay Outline
An outline for a poetry analysis essay can be very simple, as it is just a guideline for the writer to build upon as the first draft is written. It would probably be best to put the title of the paper at the top of a page, then place a Roman numeral one (I) underneath, preceding the word “introduction”.
Under this, one can list brainstormed ideas for the introduction paragraph of the paper. The final portion of this section should be dedicated to the thesis statement of the paper.
After that portion of the outline is finished, one can move on to the body paragraphs. Each of the Roman numerals used to label this part of the outline should denote a different subject area with respect to the poem that will be discussed in the essay. Letters under these numerals may be followed by subtopics within each subject area that are to be dealt within individual paragraphs (or sentences, if it is to be a shorter essay) within the body of the paper.
The final section of the outline is where the last Roman numeral is used in front of the word “conclusion”. The conclusion of the paper should contain a restatement of the thesis, preferably in different, yet recognizable wording. It should also include an overall concluding statement about your summarized viewpoint of the analyzed piece.
Poetry Analysis Essay Example
Essay Writing Advice From Our Professional Team
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When it comes to poetry analysis, the tricky thing is to pinpoint literary devices and explain their meaning. When you pinpoint a literary device used in the poem (e.g. an anaphora) you want to explain its effect in the poem, not simply state that the author of the poem used an anaphora. As the article articulates, the structure and background of the poem is very important, but in case of analysis, it is of utmost importance to stress how background, structure, and literary devices influence the overall meaning of the poem as a whole. What message is it sending and what is it trying to say? Other literary devices that you should pay attention to are diction, imagery, and allusion. The background of the author will not always be available to you. For example, while you are taking an AP exam, pay attention to specific images and words that they use or the cultural references they make can really help you pinpoint where the author is from and assist you in writing your essay.
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