Sunday, October 19, 2014

Some exercises for analyzing and evaluating poems

     In Thomas Arp's book, Perrine's Sound and Sense, page 29 he has included a list, not exhaustive, of questions you can ask yourself as you read and analyze poems.  You may not be able to answer all the questions in any given poem, but it should help you and me nonetheless! Here they are:

1.  Who is the speaker? What kind of person is the speaker?
2.  Is there an identifiable audience for the speaker? What can we know about it (her, him or them)?
3.  What is the occasion?
4.  What is the setting in time (hour, season, century, and so on)?
5.  What is the setting in place (indoors or out, city or country, land or sea, region, nation,                hemisphere)?
6.  What is the central purpose of the poem?
7.  State the central idea or theme of the poem in a sentence.
8.  a.  Outline the poem so as to show its structure and development, or
     b.  Summarize the events of the poem.
9.  Paraphrase the poem.
10. Discuss the diction of the poem. Point out words that are particularly well chosen and explain why.
11. Discuss the imagery of the poem. What kinds of imagery are used? Is there a structure of imagery?
12. Point out examples of metaphor, simile, personification, and metonymy, and explain their appropriateness.
13. Point out and explain any symbols. If the poem is allegorical, explain the allegory.
14. Point out and explain examples of paradox, overstatement, understatement, and irony. What is their function?
15. Point out and explain any allusions. What is their function?
16. What is the tone of the poem? How is it achieved?
17. Point out significant examples of sound repetition and explain their function?
18. a.  What is the meter of the poem?
      b.  Copy the poem and mark its scansion.
19. Discuss the adaptation of sound to sense.
20. Describe the form or pattern of the poem.
21. Criticize and evaluate the poem. 

     Hope this list helps us as we seek to understand poetry in more than just a glance will do!  Mine the depths and find the treasures hidden there! 

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