Reading poetry is like owning a fine painting. Art is always subjective so analyzing a poem is all about how you see it and what you read into it. This obviously does not mean that you can just read a poem and turn it into whatever you want. By properly analyzing a poem, you will see clearly what the poet intended and how it is meant to be understood.
Of course, you will be asked to write an essay on this subject and will most probably need some guidelines on where to start. The following points should assist you in forming the skeletal structure of your essay so that the writing comes a bit easier.
In your poetry analysis essay outline you will want to make space for dissecting the title. There is really no fancy way to do this. Just mention what the title implies and what you would expect the poem to be about after hearing the title. Some titles are longer than others; just be creative in describing it from your own perspective.
When you read your poem for the first few times, write down any words or phrases that make you feel something. This is usually what poems are meant to do; invoke emotion in the reader. By finding these and making a note of them, you will have a lot of resources to write extensive analysis on.
Your essay outline format should include a definitive look at what the poet’s primary message is through the poem. Does it convey anger, sadness, tragedy or excitement? Getting a better idea of what the poet’s state of mind was when the poem was written will be a critical part in your analysis. Bear in mind that the poet and the speaker are not always necessarily the same person. Identify which is which and feel free to analyze the emotional state of both.
Many poems have symbolic meaning embedded in the words. No word is put in a good poem simply to fill space or make the words rhyme. Analyze any words that may have double meanings and be sure to include these in your outline for when you start writing.
You can even consider reading the poem to family or friends. Ask them to give you some pointers about things they perceive. Perhaps they noticed something you missed? Write these down and consider which ones to use for your poetry analysis essay outline. Each point can yield surprisingly insightful results if you give them a chance. Do not be too hasty to throw away the opinion of someone else. This opinion may be shared by the person marking your essay.
Do not be surprised if the poem you are analyzing has a few language errors. These are usually intentional to give the poem a unique character. Punctuation marks and misspelled words usually mean something, so discover their purpose and note these when you start your essay.
Knowing how to analyze a poem effectively will reveal a love of poetry in you that you never knew you had. Stick to the basic guidelines of dissecting your poem and you will find that every poem is its own world of adventure. Often considered an acquired taste, poetry is most loved when it is thoroughly appreciated over and over again; just like the viewing of a painting, or the tasting of a good vintage wine.