Wondering how to write an impressive poetry analysis essay? Writing an academic paper about poetry can be one of the most challenging tasks for high school & college students who take a literary class, have no experience in analyzing different poetic works & have no idea where to start.
This type of a written assignment differs from a literary analysis of other forms of literature & makes specific demands on writers who try to analyze poems. It requires time and hard work. Want to learn how to do it?
Read this short simple guide to get a better understanding of the essay writing process that can make it easier and help you become a better writer. You can order quality papers written by professional writers & use them as examples you can follow in your own works, or use free essay writing software on EssayToolBox.com.
Need great ideas for your essays? Check other articles on our blog that can help you choose interesting topics and provide you with information about different aspects of the English academic style & paper format.
What Should You Know about Analyzing Poetry?
Literary analysis helps readers better understand literary works. The point of an essay on poetry is to carefully examine & sometimes evaluate a poem or some aspects of it – a theme, figurative language, genre, cultural context etc.
It’s important to understand that the goal of writing about poetry is to present an argument on a specific thesis statement about the poem. How can you do that? You should use your critical analysis of specific elements which the author uses in the poem – tone, structure, rhythm, rhyme, imagery, figures of speech etc., and explain how they relate to each other to support your thesis.
Your objective is to convince people reading your poetry analysis that you have supported your idea. Your content should be based on these principles.
- You should focus your composition on the topic you are discussing.
- Your paper must have one main idea that will govern its development.
- You must organize your writing. You should make sure each part contributes to explaining the meaning of the poem.
What Can You Write About When Analyzing Poems?
Poetry expresses complex meanings & feelings in compact forms. To understand the multiple meanings the poet wanted to express, you should examine all words & phrases in the lines from different aspects. They include such categories:
- Context of the poem (author’s personality & background, the country, the time of writing)
- Style or genre (e.g. epic, narrative, lyric, Japanese haiku, ode, satire, sonnet)
- Title (its meaning & significance)
- Themes (e.g. love, death, war, religion, nature or another significant concept)
- Poet’s tone (e.g. humorous, satiric, somber, playful)
- Mode (e.g. festive, provocative, mysterious, brooding, ominous, fearful, zany, jolly, cheerful)
- Versification (rhyme scheme & meter)
- Rhythm (e.g. conversational, confessional, meander, frolic, dance)
- Literary devices (simile, metaphor, personification, irony, litotes, synecdoche, metonymy, analogies, symbolism)
- Language (sibilance, alliteration, cacophony, euphony)
What Style Should You Use?
You should follow certain conventions when analyzing poetry.
- Use your verbs in the present tense rather than in the past tense.
- Use numerous quotes from the text. Explain what they mean & why they are significant for your argument.
- You can include outside criticism. Cite some points made by famous critics which are relevant to your argument.
- Use MLA which is the most common citation format for writing about poetry.
How to Analyze Poems - 10 Useful Tips
You should follow certain steps when analyzing poems.
- Read the poem aloud at least twice before you start analyzing it. The sounds are important when you need to appreciate the work of art; write down your first impressions.
- Start with the understanding of all individual words. Find a good dictionary & look up for the meanings of all the words which are not familiar to you. Use the internet to find information about places & people mentioned in the text.
- Determine the theme. It is the idea that the poet wants to express. You have to look at the work you are analyzing as a whole & try to discover the ways the various sections of it interact.
- Look at the title. Determine why it was chosen and what information it provides you with.
- Think about the tone. Determine the speaker and his/her mood.
- Look at the structure to understand how the poem is organized and how the stanzas or sections related to each other.
- Consider the rhythm & sound. Determine the meter & the rhyme scheme and think how they affect the meaning of the whole literary work.
- Analyze the language & the imagery. Determine the visual & emotional effects the words create. Find symbols and figures of speech & take time to feel the mood.
- Think how the poetic work relates to the historical context.
- Consider the poem as a whole. Synthesize the separate parts of your analysis to present the main idea you will discuss in your paper. Express your thoughts about what the author is trying to say in this piece of poetry.
Essential Elements of a Solid Academic Essay
All academic essays typically consist of an introduction which introduces a thesis statement, body paragraphs, and a conclusion.
The introduction of your paper should try to capture the attention of your readers. You should immediately introduce your subject. To do it, you may use
- a startling statement
- a brief anecdote
- a provocative question
- a quotation
- a combination of these elements.
The introduction ends with the thesis statement. It is a declarative sentence which states the point you are going to make and is the key to your essay’s success. You may present background information relevant to your thesis to help your audience understand the topic. You need to include the author’s name & the title of the poem you are going to analyze.
The body consists of at least 3 paragraphs that support & develop your central idea. It contains the explanation of your ideas. It should include the evidence from the text. Textual evidence may consist of a paraphrase, summary, direct quotations, & specific details.
Use the text evidence judiciously. It should directly relate to your topic, illustrate, and support the ideas you are developing in your academic paper. Every paragraph should begin with a topic sentence that introduces the main idea of the paragraph & relates it to the thesis statement.
The conclusion gives your paper a sense of completeness. You may restate and put your thesis using different words, present relevant comments about the piece of poetry you are analyzing from a different perspective, summarize the key points you made in the body. Need more tips on writing different parts of paper? Check other articles on our blog.
Don’t forget to give your paper a catchy title that grabs your readers’ attention and describes the approach you have taken in your piece of writing. Don’t make the title long.
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