How do you analyze a poem?

How to Analyze a Poem

There are many ways to analyze a poem; you can start by asking yourself these questions:
  • The number of stanzas or lines per stanza sometimes helps determine the poem's meaning.
  • The meter. Is there a beat, rythym, rhyme scheme/pattern?
  • The thematic structure. Does it have an introduction, a problem, or a situation? How does the plot develop? Is the problem explained any further? Is there a climax, conclusion, or solution to the problem? How so? Where in the poem is the introduction, problem, climax, resolution?
  • What literary terms (similie, metaphor, rhyme, personification, assonance, alliteration, etc.) does the poet use? What effect do these techniques have on the people, things, ideas, and meanings of the poem?
  • What is the poem about? How do the literary terms used help the speaker in the poem convey their message? How do the different parts or events in the poem contribute to the overall big picture (the meaning)?

Try to use this as a starter. The teacher is probably looking for more about meaning and not just literal structure of the words. Analyze its ideas and concepts or how they relate to the poet's message, and if they are symbolic of anything that has happened in the past (like Bible stories) or something that happened during the time the poet wrote that poem you're analyzing.
It's easy to analyze a poem. You already know how to.

1. Look for a beat. Is there a rhythm or a pattern?

2. Find the hidden meaning. Looking between the lines is a good technique.

3. Find the visual details and emotions.

You can put these together to analyze the main idea of a poem. Depending on what you're finding, you could just switch out these tips for others!