STRUCTURE

SCAN

1.      TITLE

Consider the title. What does it tell us about the poem?

2.      FORM I

Consider the shape of the words on the page. How many stanzas are there? How many lines are there per stanza? Is it written in any particular form?

FIRST READING

3.      FIRST IMPRESSIONS

After your first reading immediately make note of any first impressions about themes\emotions\mood\tone present in the poem.

4.      FORM II

At this stage you could consider the following elements of form.

5.      PUNCTUATION

It would be a good idea to mark all punctuation in bold on the page at this stage.

  • ·         Full Stops

  • ·         Commas

  • ·         Colons

  • ·         Semi-Colons

  • ·         Inverted Commas

  • ·         Exclamation Marks

  • ·         Question Marks

  • ·         Absence of Punctuation

This will also force you to notice any line breaks, enjambment and caesura.

LANGUAGE

 

SECOND READING

With the second reading we should perhaps concentrate on imagery and sound. Underline or circle any examples of the following you might find. Write down anything that occurs to you immediately.

6.      SOUND (video)

These poetic techniques add to the sound of the poem.

7.      IMAGERY

8.   READ THE QUESTIONS AGAIN

This time make sure you understand the questions being asked. Highlight the important words.

MEANING

 

THIRD READING

At this stage we should have a good idea what the poem is about. All of the above elements of structure and language feed into the meaning of the poem and all together express something that should be emotive and suggestive in nature.

9. QUESTION

  • Who’s speaking?

  • To whom is he/she speaking?

  • What prompted the poet to write this poem?

This is a good question to explore THEMES.

  • What attitude does the writer portray?

From the answer to this question you should have a good idea of the TONE of the Poem. The following words might help in describing the poet’s USE OF LANGUAGE.

  • Argumentative

  • Cerebral

  • Colloquial

  • Literal

  • Lyrical

  • Personal

  • Reflective

  • Satirical

10. ANSWER THE QUESTIONS

Usually the questions are quite general, often asking about the ideas, emotions or images evoked in the poem. You could be asked to specifically comment on the poet’s use of language but even if you are not you need to discuss it in your answers. Another common question is to write a personal response. Remember poetry is an artistic medium and like all art its purpose is to provoke a reaction in the reader. Your reaction boils down to how the poem makes you feel, but you need to be able to explain why you feel that way and how the poet has provoked this reaction in you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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