The Breakdown: What you should ask yourself
Ask the questions: WHAT, WHO, WHEN, WHERE!
What is the poem about?
- What is happening in the poem?
- What/Who is being described?
- Where is it taking place?
- When is it happening?
- What is being done/said/talked about/argued/expressed?
How does the poet feel? What is his/her attitude?
How does the poet portray these feelings to the reader?
What’s the tone of voice?
The following are some words used to describe someone’s tone:
serious, critical, chatty, concerned, casual, ironic, exaggerated, aggressive, light-hearted, bold, disrespectful, amused, sympathetic, sincere, happy, sad, sarcastic etc.
NB: The poet might use a combination of tones!
What is the EFFECT or ATMOSPHERE created by the poem?
The following are some words to describe moods:
serious, heavy, joyful, bitter, thoughtful, reflective, quiet, sad, calm, angry, peaceful
What is the overall idea/purpose/meaning behind the poem?
What is the main message that is being communicated by the poet?
(5) POET’S PURPOSE
What’s the reason for writing this?
Did he achieve his goal?
(6) TECHNICAL EXPERTISE
Identify the techniques which the poet used to show intent, meaning and effect in the poem
The following are the techniques to be implemented in analysing any poem:
(1) Type of poem & setting
(2) Structure of poem
(3) Rhythm i.e. beat/flow of words
(4) Choice of Language used i.e. simple, complex, dialect, figurative, suggestive, symbolic
(5) Punctuation (commas = continued thought ; full stop= thoughts have ended)
(6) Stylistic devices include: contrast, illusion, repetition, illustration, imagery, irony, climax, hyperbole, metaphor, personification, simile, oxymoron, rhetorical question, paradox, alliteration, onomatopoeia.