Critical Analysis Poetry Essay

Despite what your grade-school teacher might have told you, poetry isn’t all hearts and flowers, especially not when you have to analyze a poem in an essay. When you delve into the realm of poetry, you’re much more likely to stumble into madness and decay, especially if you are reading Edgar Allen Poe or Charles Bukowski!

Mwahahahaha…ha…ha.

Okay, I’m exaggerating (a little). Poetry can be fun. And full of puns. Like this one.

Regardless, don’t lose your head just yet–I have some tips on how to analyze a poem in a way that doesn’t bring doom and gloom to your grades.

Choosing a Poem to Analyze

The vast majority of the time, your instructor will tell you which poem to analyze. However, on the off chance that you have to choose a poem yourself, choosing the right poem can make learning how to analyze a poem much, much easier.

When you are choosing a poem, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you like the poem?
  • Do you have notes from class that could help you start your essay?
  • Do you understand the language in the poem?
  • Could you summarize the poem in your own words?
  • Are there resources online that you could use to understand the poem better?
  • Does the poem have obvious literary elements (rhyme, meter, metaphor, etc.)?

If you answered “yes” to many of those questions, then the poem you have will likely work great for your analysis.

What Is a Poetry Analysis?

Before you can really start writing your analysis, you need to know what your instructor expects of you. A poem analysis is much like any other literary analysis, but it caters more specifically to poems. For instance, since poems are typically short, the analyses are also often short. Few instructors will make you write a poetry analysis for more than about 3-5 pages. Whew!

However, the shorter length doesn’t let you off the hook. With your poetry analysis, you need to focus on two main aspects of the poem you choose: theme and the literary elements that proves that theme. Your thesis statement needs to contain both of those aspects, and you’ll spend your body paragraphs discussing examples of the literary elements and how they relate back to the theme.

Now, let’s get into more detail.

Summarizing and Paraphrasing a Poem

Learning how to analyze a poem gets a lot simpler when you start by summarizing or paraphrasing the poem and figuring out what the heck the poet is even talking about. I’m going to use “Desert Places” by Robert Frost to help you understand what I mean.

(And, no, I will not use “The Road Not Taken”! Frost did write other poems, people!)

Here’s “Desert Places” in case you aren’t familiar with it:

Snow falling and night falling fast, oh, fast
In a field I looked into going past,
And the ground almost covered smooth in snow,
But a few weeds and stubble showing last.

The woods around it have it – it is theirs.
All animals are smothered in their lairs.
I am too absent-spirited to count;
The loneliness includes me unawares.

And lonely as it is, that loneliness
Will be more lonely ere it will be less –
A blanker whiteness of benighted snow
WIth no expression, nothing to express.

They cannot scare me with their empty spaces
Between stars – on stars where no human race is.
I have it in me so much nearer home
To scare myself with my own desert places. (Frost)

MLA Citation

Frost, Robert, and Robert Hunter. “Desert Places.” Poemhunter.com. Web. 30 June 2015.

If I’m to summarize this poem, I might write something like the following:

The narrator walked past a snow-covered field in the late evening and felt insignificant next to the forests and the hibernating animals. The narrator becomes lonely and expects to become lonelier. As the narrator looks up at the stars, he or she realizes that nothing could feel as empty as he or she feels inside.

Note that you would not use the above summary in an essay. However, putting a poem in your own words can really help you understand the feeling of the poem and what the author is trying to convey.

If you wanted to go further in depth with your understanding, you could paraphrase the poem, which basically means rewriting every line in your own words rather than condensing the information.

Choosing a Theme to Write about

Once you understand what the poem is trying to say, you need to come up with a theme. A theme is a central idea in a poem. In “Desert Places,” Frost talks a lot about loneliness, and since the narrator in the poem is alone, I can say that loneliness and isolation are main ideas or themes in the poem.

When you are searching for a theme in your poem, look for concepts or notions that seem to pop up several times. Think about the feeling the poem might be trying to convey. That will often lead you straight to the theme.

If you can’t think of a theme, you can either talk to your instructor about it or look online to see what scholars say about the themes in the poem. Resources such as Sparknotes.com can also help you get on the right track.

Choosing a Literary Device or Element

To complete your essay topic, you need to choose one or more literary elements the poem uses to point toward the theme you chose. Here are some examples of literary devices you could be looking for:

  • Rhyme
  • Meter
  • Metaphor
  • Simile
  • Setting
  • Allegory
  • Alliteration
  • Caesura
  • Enjambment
  • Hyperbole
  • Satire

There are many more literary devices to choose from; see a longer list here. I would suggest choosing one or two devices for most essays. Make sure that you can relate them back to the theme you chose.

If I were to write a poetic analysis of “Desert Places” specifically on the topic of loneliness and isolation, I would choose rhyme as one of my literary devices.

Rather than a traditional a/a/b/b or a/b/a/b rhyme scheme for his quatrains (stanzas with four lines), Frost chose an a/a/b/a rhyme scheme. Since one of the words in each stanza does not rhyme with anything, it could be said that the poet has isolated one word in each stanza, which demonstrates the loneliness the speaker talks about in the content of the poem.

(Wow! Right?)

Mark where the literary device occurs in the poem and keep those notes for later. You can use them as examples for when you start writing your analysis.

Writing Your Thesis Statement

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: having a good thesis statement means that the rest of your paper will be a breeze. Essentially, a good thesis statement becomes a one-sentence outline of your paper.

Here’s what my thesis statement for my “Desert Places” analysis might look like:

In “Desert Places,” Robert Frost uses an unusual rhyme scheme, specifically an a/a/b/a rhyme scheme, to demonstrate the narrator’s isolation and loneliness.

This would be a great thesis statement for a short poetry analysis (1-2 pages). For a longer poetry analysis (3-5 pages), you might want to choose two or three literary devices that explicate your theme.

When you write your thesis, you might find this template helpful:

In [poem’s name], [poet] employs [literary devices] to demonstrate [theme].

Here, it is important that you are specific. In my example, I made sure to specify how the rhyme scheme was unusual rather than just leaving it at that. Make sure you do the same.

For more help building out a winning thesis statement, see Kibin’s thesis statement builder!

Analyzing a Poem in Body Paragraphs

Though writing your introduction and thesis statement is certainly half the battle, you need to win your audience over with your supporting body paragraphs. Think about it this way: your head wouldn’t do you much good without all the organs and systems that comprise your body.

(Didn’t think you were going to get an anatomy lesson in a poetry post, did you?)

As you write your body paragraphs, adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Keep your paragraphs to about half a page doubled spaced (shorter paragraphs improve readability).
  • Start your paragraph with your topic sentence, which should relate to everything you are going to say in the paragraph (think of it as the paragraph’s thesis statement).
  • Use only one piece of evidence per paragraph, either a quote or a paraphrased example from the text.
  • Always end a paragraph in your own words and make sure to include analysis (why the evidence supports your thesis statement) at the end of each paragraph.

By following those guidelines, you’ll set yourself up for an essay that knocks your instructor’s socks off.

A Few More Tips on How to Analyze a Poem

Though you have learned how to analyze a poem, I haven’t really mentioned how you can sound smart doing it. Now, this doesn’t mean that you should go crazy and throw in a bunch of fancy synonyms (see How to Become a Better Writer: Don’t Use Words that Sound Smart). What it does mean is using vocabulary that is appropriate for poems.

I already gave you a list of literary terms and their definitions, which should catapult you to greatness in your analysis already, but here are some important tidbits to remember when you write a poetic analysis:

  • Don’t assume that the poet and the speaker/narrator in the poem are the same person. Instead, refer to the person in the poem as “he or she” or just “the speaker” or “the narrator.”
  • Don’t use words like “obviously” or “clearly” in your poetic analysis. If it were so obvious, you wouldn’t have to write an essay about it.
  • Don’t spend time summarizing the poem in your essay. Assume your reader has already read the poem.
  • Don’t worry too much about working through the poem line by line or in order. Use the evidence that best supports your claim in the order that makes sense for your argument.
  • Don’t forget to cite your poem according to MLA formatting. Any quote you use should have an in-text citation.

Check out these examples of poetic analyses written by students like you for more inspiration and ideas.

Make Sure Your Paper Is Polished before You Turn It in!

If you are still stuck or nervous about writing your analysis, that’s okay. Sometimes, just getting something out on paper will give you the courage you need to keep going and revise what you’ve written to fit the above-mentioned guidelines.

As you’re revising, I highly recommend reading your analysis out loud. Doing so will help you find awkward or confusing areas so you can pinpoint what still needs work. You can also get a friend, family member, or professional editor to look your paper over. At Kibin, our editors are ready to polish your essay at any time of day or night.

Whether you need some advice on what you’ve written so far or want our talented editors to polish your essay into analytic gold, our editing services can help you!

Now that you know how to analyze a poem, put your skills to the test on your own essay!

Psst... 98% of Kibin users report better grades! Get inspiration from over 500,000 example essays.

What is poetry? How is it analyzed? What are the elements of poetry? Good questions! One good way to get started analyzing poetry is to go straight to the good, old Structure, Sound and Sense by Laurence Perrine, the purple-ish book usually assigned for English classes at MGCCC. Perrine's table of contents lists the elements of poetry. It divides the elements into chapters--one chapter on imagery, one on metaphor and symbolism, et cetera. It also includes poems in each chapter which represent uses of the poetic elements the chapter discusses. Read through these chapters--use them as reference tools--for further, more detailed discussion of the elements of poetry. However, the Writing Lab instructors decided it wouldn't hurt to write up a supplement to Perrine's book. This supplement will discuss the same information as Structure, Sound and Sense, but it will take up less space. A further advantage is that it will discuss the same ideas in clearer, simpler language. Pleas note that this handout discusses the basics of poetry; there is much more to know about it than there is room to discuss here.
Poetry goes beyond the rhyming of words. The object of writing a poem is usually to make a very complicated statement using as few words as possible; as Laurence Perrine says, poetry "may be defined as a kind of language that says more and says it more intensely than does ordinary language" (517). Thus every word and stanza is packed with meanings. Poetic language could be said to have muscle because, in a sense, it is powerful. When a poet writes, he is trying to communicate with the reader in a powerful way. He uses the elements of poetry to get his point across, and these elements consist of a variety of ways to use words to convey his meanings. In the analysis of poetry, then, two important questions the reader must ask himself are: What is the poet trying to say? How does he or she try to say it?

Individual instructors may have specific requirements for papers written in their classes. Those requirements take precedence over anything written in this handout. Otherwise, a critical analysis paper may be written in the same format that is taught for writing ordinary essays in Comp. I and Comp. II. A critical analysis includes an introduction, a thesis statement, perhaps a map of the essay, the body of the essay, and a conclusion. The critical analysis paper will consist of a proof or a demonstration of the thesis statement. Always begin with a thesis statement, which usually appears at the end of the introductory paragraph. The thesis of a critical paper should include a statement of the poem's theme; everything in the body of the paper should apply in some way towards proving the thesis statement.

In critical analysis, one looks both analytically and critically at a short story, a novel, or a poem and makes an argument about what the meaning of the story or poem is. What follows is a discussion of what the words "critical" and "analysis" mean:

It is helpful to think of analysis as decoding. Creative writers rarely say what they mean in a straightforward, obvious way, and this is especially true of poets. However, they are trying to communicate with readers. In doing so they use a variety of tools to enrich their purpose, and these tools are the elements of poetry. The combination of elements the poet uses makes up the "code" of the poem. Analysis means literally picking a poem apart--looking at elements such as imagery, metaphor, poetic language, rhyme scheme, and so on--in order to see how they all work together to produce the poem's meaning. By looking at a poem in terms of its elements, one decodes the poem. This guide is to help readers learn what to look for and what questions to ask in decoding a poem.
To criticize means to judge the merits and faults of a poem. Questions to consider in this regard are: What has the poet doen well, and what has he done less well? Has he successfully expressed his theme? Has he written a "good" poem or a "great" poem according to Laurence Perrine's standards?

The following are some initial helpful tips for reading poetry recommended by Laurence Perrine and explored in more detail in your textbook:

  • Read the poem more than once.
  • Use a dictionary when you find a word about whose meaning you are unsure.
  • Read the poem slowly.
  • Pay attention to what the poem is saying; do not be distracted by the rhyme and rhythm of the poem.
  • Try reading the poem out loud to get a sense of the way the sounds of the poem effect its meaning.

Denotation and Connation Words in poems have denotations, or literal, easy-to-understand dictionary meanings, and connotations, or figurative, less specific and less direct meanings. The latter is the more important in poetry than the former. The figurative, or connotative, meaning of a word means everything that the word might imply besides its direct, dictionary meaning.

For example, the literal, denotative meaning of the word apple is something like this: It is the fruit of the apple tree, anywhere from gold to dark red in color, and it has seeds and a sweet taste. The literal meaning of a word, its denotation, can usually be defined in simple, clear language and can be understood right away.

The connotative meaning of a word, however, is much different. A red apple in a poem is never merely a red apple, but probably implies a lot of different things. The red color may symbolize passion, fertility, anger--anything one can associate with the color red could be a possible meaning. The apple itself could symbolize the Tree of Life, it could symbolize knowledge, Adam and Eve and their Fall from Grace, the harvest in fall, the forbidden, Sir Isaac Newton or Johnny Appleseed--perhaps a combination of these things. In this way a poet uses a word or an idea in a poem to express a variety of ideas at one time, and so deepens our experience.

Thus, in reading poetry one should look at words as having two kinds of meaning. They have dictionary meanings, but also mean other things besides. One should look at individual words and at phrases in the poem and brainstorm; that is, one should think about the literal meanings, but then try to think of every possible idea that the word or phrase could imply. Importantly, words do not mean anything and everything in a poem. Thus the reader should look at the poem as a whole and try to figure out which implications make the most sense within that poem.

Images are very concrete "word pictures" having to do with the five senses--touch, smell, taste, sound, movement, and especiallysight. As Perrine points out, images make readers experience things vividly. To figure out the imagery in a poem, the reader should first make a list of every single mental picture, or visual image, that comes to mind as he reads the poem. He can then go back and find other kinds of ideas that have to do with physical sensations--sounds, tastes, smells and so on. Finally, he can go back and think about all the ideas these different images could imply--figure out their connotations, in other words.

For example, if a poet compares something to a ship, the reader might think about what ships look like, and then think about what it feels like to be on a ship. How do ships move? Where do they go? What sights, sounds, smells and sensations can we associate with ships and being on ships? After thinking about these questions, the reader can go back and attach these ideas that a ship implies to the thing to which the ship is compared, and finally try to fit these ideas into the overall meaning of the poem. See Emily Dickinson's poem "There is No Frigate Like a Book" on page 575 of Structure, Sound, and Sense.

Importantly, poets often place images in opposition to each other. This creates what is known as "tension." Tension is often an important clue to the meaning of a poem; it also creates drama and interest and is a key to paradox (see below). One should look out for strange contrasts in images in the process of analyzing poems, and think about the responses they arouse in a reader. Images can be part of similes and metaphors, though they are not always (see below).

Figurative language involves a comparison between two things--a literal term, or the thing being compared, and a figurative term, or the thing to which the literal term is being compared. As Perrine states, figurative language is a way of describing an ordinary thing in an un-ordinary way.
A simile is an explicit, or clear and direct, comparison between two things that are basically unalike using dead-giveaway words such as "like", "as though", "seems", "similar to", "than", or "as". For example, "The woman moved like a fish--she moved as though she were as weightless as a fish in water. Her movements were certainly as graceful and fluid as those of a sea creature. She seemed ready to swim away at any moment, like a startled school of fish." Here, the woman is the literal term, while the fish, sea creatures, and school of fish are all figurative terms.
A metaphor is a comparison that is not made explicitly--that is, it is not made clearly and directly and is not made with clues such as "like" or "as". It is, instead, an indirect comparison between two things that are basically unalike. In metaphor, the figurative term is substituted for or identified with the literal term, the thing being compared. This is done to make the meaning of a poem more forceful.

For example, the expression "The apple never falls far from the tree" contains a metaphor in which parents or family (literal term)is compared a tree (figurative term), while children (literal term) is compared to an apple (figurative term). The metaphor expresses that children are never very different from the parents or family from which they come. For further example, "The fire eye in the clouds survives the gods" (Wallace Stevens) also uses metaphor. Here, the sun is compared to an eye--one that has seemingly eternal life, and thus can watch the full course of human events. Here, one figurative term is "fire eye in the clouds" while the literal term is "the sun". The term "eye" may give the reader the idea that the sun is kind of like a conscious being, since conscious beings have eyes for purposes of perceiving the world; what a thing "sees" it can presumable think about in a conscious way. Also, the idea that the sun "survives" reinforces the idea that it is like a living thing, though it is not, in fact living. See also, "The Road Not Taken" and "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening," both by Robert Frost and appearing in Structure, Sound and Sense. These are good examples of easy-to-understand uses of metaphor.

Personification is a kind of metaphor, and it means to speak of an impersonal thing, such as a season, a natural element, any object, a country, etc., as though it were a person. For example, look at the line from the popular Seals and Crofts song, "Summer Breeze": "July is dressed up and playing her tune." Here the month of July is spoken of as though it were a woman. July is "dressed up", that is, July is in full swing--flowers are blooming and butterflies are flying, resembling the pattern of a summer dress. Also, to say that July is "playing her tune" is a metaphorical way of saying that birds are singing and nighttime insects and frogs are voicing their mating calls. Thus the figurative term, a woman in a dress playing a tune, is identified with the literal term, a summer month in which nature is at its peak of activity.
Synechdoche is a way of naming a thing: the word for a part of a thing is substituted for the whole. For example, in the sentence "I bought a new set of wheels this morning," the word "wheels" is substituted for the word "car." Wheels are part of any car; here the part is substituted for the whole. The following are further examples: "How do you like my new threads?" and "All hands on deck!" both represent synecdoche.
Mentonymy is a way of naming a thing: a thing closely related to the thing actually meant is used to name it. For example, "He came from excellent blood" substitutes the term "blood" for "family", and expresses the idea that an individual comes from a "good" family, perhaps a noble one. "Blood" and "family" are related because families are made up of people who have similar characteristics; people have blood, and people in families, being related to one another, are often said to share the same blood. Furthermore, "blood," a biological thing, is not part of a "family," which is a cultural institution. However, blood, part of the human body, can be substituted for "family," a group of biologically related bodies. Thus the figurative term "blood" is substituted for the literal term "family".
A symbol means what it is, but at the same time it represents something else, too. For example, "the straw that broke the camel's back" is a symbol of a last, remaining bit of patience with a difficult, ongoing situation.
An allegory is very similar to a symbol. Laurence Perrine describes it in this way: "Allegory is a narrative or description that has a second meaning beneath the surface one. Although the surface story or description may have its own interest, the author's major interest is in the ulterior meaning." (597) What this means is that in addition to the surface meaning of the poem there is also a more important, deeper meaning. Allegories relate especially to subject matter from the Bible and from mythology. For example, a garden in a poem may be not just a garden, but it may represent also the Garden of Eden and all of the ideas that accompany the idea of the Garden of Eden become potentially important in the poem. These might include ideas such as the seven days of creation, paradise, utopia, the Fall of Man, disobediance, human rationality, God's power, Eve's origin as Adam's rib, and so on. References to mythology are harder to catch because most Americans simply are not familiar with Greek, Roman, and Norse gods and goddesses and their stories. However, there are dictionaries of mythology in any public library, so use one if need be.
A paradox occurs when two things that should not be able to exist at the same time are said, in a poem, to exist at the same time. For example, it is impossible that it be both night and day, both spring and fall, both past and present at the same time. If, however, one were to say that night and day coexist in a poem, one would be expressing a paradox. Because human beings frequently experience two or more emotions at the same time (mixed feelings, ambivalence) or can see things from two points of view at the same time, they often use paradox in poetry to express such a situation. For example, if a poem were to say that the speaker of the poem is experiencing the past and the present at the same time, this may mean that his memories of the past are so vivid that the past seems to be existing in the present.

For example, "A poem should be palpable and mute/As a globed fruit" (Archibald MacLeish, p. 650 of Structure, Sound and Sense). This line expresses a paradox because poems are constructed through words--why should a poem be "silent"? A poem has the "silence" of a globed fruit because the poem should be able to communicate the non-verbal aspects of the fruit (the things we experience without words)--the fruit's roundness, its smooth or fuzzy texture, its sweet fragrance, its crunchy or soft texture once it's bitten into, and so on. These are all things which are not experienced nor understood in a verbal way but which a poem may paradoxically communicate through words. Thus a "silent poem" is a paradox.

Overstatement is very similar to exaggeration. To say "You'll tear down that house over my dead body!" is overstatement; what is actually meant is that the speaker will do everything in his power to prevent the house being torn down. He will probably not, in fact, submit to death in order to prevent that from occurring.

Understatement is the opposite of exaggeration--one states less than one's full meaning. To say "It is on warm side in July and August on the Gulf Coast" would be an understatement. In fact, it is blazingly hot on the Gulf Coast. See Burns' "A Red, Red Rose" and Frost's "The Rose Family" on pages 611 and 612 of Structure, Sound, and Sense for good examples of over- and understatement in poetry.

Irony is a situation in which one thing is said but another is actually meant, or in which the outcome of a situation is the opposite of what one would have expected it to be. Irony is packed into the line, "The fire eye in the clouds survives the gods." Human beings are often said to create their gods, beings frequently presumed by humans to be immortal, all-knowing, and all-powerful because they are presumed to have created things like the earth, the moon, the sun. Rather, this line of poetry emphasizes the mythical nature of gods and goddesses; their existence, so to speak, is tied to a culture, and once that culture has run its course, those gods can be said to have "died". It is the sun, supposedly created by the gods, which actually "witnesses" the passage of time and the events of human history. Thus the opposite of what one would think to be the true situation is occurring: The sun, not the gods, can make a better claim to being immortal and all-knowing because it "watches" the rise and fall of cultures and of the gods associated with those cultures. Furthermore, it is the sun which has, in fact, inspired human beings to create gods in order to account for its existence. See the section in Structure, Sound, and Sense that covers irony for good examples of this element in poetry.
Remember that a poem might be summed up in a literal, one-sentence statement, a theme. Also remember that along with that simplified statement a poem has other ideas connected with it. For example, "The fire eye in the clouds survives the gods" means literally that the sun has a very long "life expectancy" of several billion years. However, other ideas are associated with this literal meaning; the line expresses ideas about the nature of time, history and the "immortal" gods. For example "the fire eye in the clouds" implies that the sun is in some way godlike because gods are often said to live in the sky, amnong the clouds, on mountaintops. Likewise, those aspects of the sun are represented here. Furthermore, eyes see, and the idea of the sun as an "eye" implies an all-knowing and perhaps all-powerful quality; for instance, God's eye is depicted above a pyramid on US dollar bills, and so we are "one nation under God." The words "fire-eye" allow us to experience the sun in an entirely new way, above and beyond its being a star in the sky which produces heat. (See above discussions of metaphor and irony.)
Tone consists of the attitude of the speaker toward his subject matter. It involves practice working with the other elements--especially under- and overstatement, language, irony, imagery, the meanings and connotations (implications) of words--of poetry to judge the tone of a poem. In assessing tone, nevertheless, one might begin by asking oneself the following questions: Is the speaker involved or detached (uninvolved, unemotional?) How does he seem to feel about his subject matter? Is the speaker serious or joking, ironic or straightforward, condemning, approving or dispassionate, lighthearted or depressed, loving or angry? Does the tone change as the poem progresses? Is the tone mixed? For instance, is the speaker at once sad and apprehensive, happy and nostalgic, loving and angry?
To determine what musical devices are used in a poem, one should ask how sounds are arranged and used in a poem. What sounds and words get repeated? What are repeated but with slight changes? Is there rhyme? The following are kinds of musical devices. Keep in mind that the vowels are a,e,i,o,u and sometimes y, and the consonants are all of the other letters in the alphabet.

Alliteration--the repetition of beginning consonant sounds For example, "Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers."

Assonance--the repetition of vowel sounds found anywhere in a word For example, "mad as a hatter," "blackjack," "knick- knack, paddy-wack," "picnic"

Consonance--the repetition of cononsant sounds found at the ends of words For example, "knick-knack, paddy-wack," "bric-a-brac," "flip-flop"

Rhyme--also spelled "rime" rhyme is the repition of ending sounds between words; poems can have end rhyme, in which words at the ends of lines rhyme; this is what we usually mean when we say a poem "rhymes." A poem can also have internal rhyme, in which words inside of individual lines for example, "Go with the flow, Joe.">

The sounds used in a poem can effect its meaning and tone. The use of consonants, vowels and rhyme can effect the way the reader feels about the poem's subject matter; they can effect the poem's tone and reflect its meaning. One should think of the sounds of letters in terms of the range of feelings they may express. For example, lots of long vowel sounds accompanied by soft consonant sounds may contribute to a tone of sleepy restfulness in a poem. Short vowel sounds plus hard consonant sounds may express anxiety, quick movement, anger or happiness.

For further information on additional poetic devices, read first the glossary of terms for poetry in Structure, Sound, and Sense, and then refer to the page numbers in which they appear for more detail and example.

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