Before you begin, have students read and choose meaningful poetry.  Classic poets like Emily Dickenson and Robert Frost are always excellent choices!  This link will take you to Classic Poetry:

ANALYZING:  Keep in mind that all words in a poem have some kind of meaning to poets.  They choose words very strategically to not only include evident meaning, but also implied meaning.  Make your poetry analysis fun by turning it into a detective game!  Give your students magnifying glasses while they examine a poem!  Give them a copy of the poem and supply highlighters and colored pens!  What can they find?  Here are 15 steps to reach an effective analysis!

1.  Poet:  Who wrote the poem?  Is he/she from a specific time period?  Can you guess his/her age at the time of writing the poem?  Male or Female?  Does the poet have a specific career?  Politics, religion, music?  Does he/she write about specific subjects?  Historical, cultural?

2.  Read the poem three times.  This will allow you time to process the words in the poem.  Say it out loud, together with another person, and then to yourself.

3. Setting: Does the poem suggest a time period or places?  Is there a time frame?  Is there an indication of a season?

4.  Title:  Read the title.  Does it tell you anything?  Is there a tone?  Does it mention the subject?  Is the title obvious to the poem?  Does it show historical significance? 

5.  Type of Poem:  narrative, limerick, haiku, lyric, epic, etc.   Is it fiction or nonfiction?

6.  Subject: Does it suggest meaning to the poem?  What is your initial thought about the subject?  Go back later and see if you change your mind! 

7.  Speaker:  Male, female, either.  Point of View:  Voice in first person (I, my, me, mine) or Second Person (He, she, you)  Does the speaker have an opinion about the subject?

8.  Change:   Change in feelings, positive to negative, beginning to end, young to old, past to present, simple to complex, compare/contrast, analogy, etc. 

9.  Poetic Devices:  Each of these poetic devices may be placed in the poem.  The poet puts it there for a reason.  Does your poem have any of them?  

ALLITERATION-  Repeating the beginning sound of words.  Ex. Slimy slugs slither slowly on the sidewalk.

ALLUSION-  Refers to something without mentioning it directly.  Ex.  You are a regular Einstein. 

IMAGERY-  Creating a picture with words.  Ex. The thick fuzzy coat was a blessing in the winter blizzard.

METAPHOR-  Comparing two unlike things.  Ex.  A good laugh is sunshine in a house.

MOOD-  The atmosphere that creates an emotional situation.  Ex.  Depressing, cheery, mysterious, scary

ONOMATOPOEIA-  Sound words.  Ex.  Bang, ding, pop!  Is it located at the end of each line?

PERSONIFICATION-  Giving an object or thing a human quality.  Ex.  The wind whistled its happy tune.

REPETITION-  Repeating words or phrases.  Ex.  Leaving my friends, leaving my home leaving my room, leaving my memories

RHYME- Similar ending sounds.  Ex.  School, tool, rule  or approximate rhyme:  least/ freeze

RHYME SCHEME- Showing a pattern of rhyme.
Ex. Roses are red    A
     Violets are blue   B
     Sugar is sweet    C
     And so are you.   B

RHYTHM-  (musical quality) Does is meander, march, dance, or is it monologue?  Does it increase or decrease in speed?

SENSES- See, hear, smell, touch, taste.  Does the poem concentrate on just one sense?  Is it a pleasing sense or displeasing? 

SIMILE-  Comparing two unlike things using like or as.  Ex.  She was as pale as a lump of sugar.

THEME-  An idea that is continuously developed.  The heart of the poem.  The message.    Ex.  Love, liberty, patriotism.

TONE-  The attitude of the poet to the subject.  Ex.  Playful, serious, teasing, sorrowful?

10. Punctuation: Look at the punctuation.  Does it show meaning or change the meaning?

11.  Go back and look at the title again.  Does anything change?

12.  Look at the first and last lines.   Does it provoke emotion or a lasting thought?

13.  Mark the Poem:  Use a highlighter and color pens to mark the poem.  Write in the margins, highlight important words, phrases, or repeated/ patterns of words, circle difficult or confusing words, make a list of all the verbs, draw lines to make any connections throughout the poem, and underline poetic devices.

14.  Take Notes.  This is your interpretation.  Keep in mind that there may be multiple meanings of a poem and you may have a different thought than others. 

a.  Restate the poem in your own words. 
b.  Think outside the box.  Look for both evident and implied meanings. 
c.  Explain any of the above steps. 
d.  Were you emotionally moved or touched by the poem? 
e.  Do you have an opinion? 
f.  Do any words stick in your mind? 
g.  Did this poem or poet make an impression?  Why?

15.  Written Analysis:  Organize your notes into a summary of your thoughts.

Optional or for GT Differentiation:   Research the author-  does this influence the poem?


How can you make poetry analysis REALLY fun?  Use lyrics!   Yes, songs and raps are forms of poetry!  Students love to listen to the songs and analyze them.  They will beg you for more!  Grab this free lyrical analysis form!

Poetry Slam- Loaded with Anchor Charts for Poetry Types, Elements, and Analyzing!
Poetry Lyrics- Includes lyrics for a variety of genres with questions for analyzing!
Poetry Portfolio- A student booklet with poetry types- including directions!
Poetry Elements Cards- Great for studying!
Test-  Assess student knowledge!

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