Take the time to analyze things

Poetry analysis

The Poetry analysis We encounter it for the first time in school and the first steps are often not that easy and certainly pose a challenge. After all, when analyzing poetry we not only have to examine some formalities, but also the poem for elements such as stylistic devices, rhyme schemes and of course analyze the meter.

This is difficult insofar as all of the areas mentioned naturally contain a lot of things that we have to learn by heart or at least understand fundamentally in order to be able to analyze a poem independently and then interpret it (→ poem interpretation).

However, we should have a little fun with the matter for a well-founded poem analysis, because in addition to the pure analysis, we of course also have to interpret and discuss the respective poem and a little between the individual lines (Verses) read the text.

Note: On this page we would like to show by way of example how such a poem analysis is structured, which things must be considered and how we can best write and formulate the analysis. Then we go into the most common sources of error.

What is a poem analysis?

The word analysis comes from the Greek and means roughly resolution. An object (in our case a poem) is broken down into its individual components and then systematically examined. Then the individual elements of the object (poem) are sorted, ordered and evaluated in some way by us.

In principle, one could compare this step with all other sciences, such as natural science. Because here, too, an object is broken down into its individual elements (analysis) in order to be able to understand it precisely or to be able to interpret it.

Now the poem analysis is not limited to thisto make individual parts out of a work, but also includes the interpretation of the poem. This means that the subsequent interpretation of a poem is always part of the poem analysis itself. In this interpretation we try to give meaning to the results of our analysis.

Conclusion: A poem analysis is the breaking down of a poem into individual parts (stanzas, verses or syllables). We assign a function to these elements, which we show based on our observations (rhyme scheme, stylistic devices, meter). We then interpret our findings from the analysis and use them to create a poem interpretation.

Prepare for the poem analysis

Now that we know what poem analysis is all about, we could start working now. However, it is advisable to make some preparations for the analysis in order to be able to find all the details in the relevant work and to be able to analyze them safely.

  • Obtain the appropriate one Working material. Ideally, we have a pencil, a ruler and colored highlighters to mark eye-catching passages in the poem. A dictionary can also be helpful.
  • Read Start by reading the relevant poem very carefully. Ideally, we look at the work several times and try to understand the individual verses exactly. What could be meant by a formulation and what is the content of it all about?
  • We can do this Ambiguities at the edge of the individual stanzas note and also try to put the individual elements in context.
  • Do the verses and stanzas have anything to do with each other and how do they relate to each other? Do some of the stanzas deal with the same topic? We should definitely look up unclear words in the Duden!
  • Also, try to time the poem. In which literary epoch is it set and what are the typical features of this time? Can these be found in the poem and can we learn something about the meaning?
  • In addition, we should now try to put the individual words into context and interpret them for ourselves.
  • There is no right or wrong. Because if we prove something based on our poem analysis, our interpretation can also differ from the opinion of other people. It is important that we create a coherent overall picture.
  • Important! We should note and underline all abnormalities. In no case just start, read the text as often as necessary until the structure and content are clear to us. Otherwise an interpretation can quickly backfire.

  • Note: Schools sometimes ask that we also take into account the life of the author in the analysis and see whether we can make a connection in the poem.

    In literary studies this is avoided, however, since a work should stand for itself. So it mainly depends on our approach whether the author's life should play a role.

Structure of the poem analysis

The structure of the poem analysis follows a very strict scheme and is usually always the same. Of course we can exchange individual elements and sub-items, but basically we stick to the given pattern when writing a poem analysis.

  • Initiation of poetry analysis
  • Main part of the poem analysis
    • content
      • Subject of the poem
      • What does the poem describe (season, experience or a time?)
      • Relationship between title and poem
      • The lyrical me. Who is speaking in the poem and how can you tell?
    • construction
    • language
    • Poem interpretation (→ poem interpretation)
      • What do the results of our analysis do?
      • How can that be determined?
      • What mood and feelings are evoked by language?
      • What is the relationship between content and function
      • ... and what do they mean?
  • Final part of the poem analysis
    • What does the plant want? (Intention)
    • Has our initial guess been confirmed?
    • Are there any unanswered questions that the poem doesn't answer?
    • What is our opinion?(Only if a teacher expressly requests it!)

Notes on the structure of the poem analysis

Above all, it is important to establish a connection between the individual elements and not stubbornly working through the given scheme or listing individual stylistic devices and features. We have to try to form a unity between analysis and interpretation, which means that all abnormalities in the poem analysis have to be functionalized.

The structure described gives us a pattern that we can simply work through. This always makes sense when we cannot find access to a work. Nevertheless, there are many sources of error if we strictly analyze a poem according to the given structure.

This also means that we cannot always adhere to the rigid structure in the analysis. The structure is just a poem analysis guide, not a dogma!

Sources of error in poetry analysis
  • Not correct: The form and the content are often not related to each other. After the description of the structure, only a reproduction of the content follows.
  • Correct: The form and content of a poem must always be related to each other in the analysis. In most of the works they even determine each other.

  • Not correct: Conclusions about content are often drawn too quickly. We have an opinion and do everything we can to interpret it in the poem.
  • Correct: Ideally, we read a poem several times and then analyze its structure in order to allow us a well-founded opinion in the poem analysis.

  • Not correct: Often there is hardly any subdivision in the respective poem analysis. This means that the individual sections of the shape are not visibly separated from each other.
  • Correct: You don't necessarily need subheadings in the poem analysis. Nevertheless, a clear structure is important and sections of meaning that we can separate with the help of paragraphs.

  • Not correct: Assertions are often simply made in the work, without being able to prove them exactly in the text or at all.
  • Correct: We have to be able to justify every interpretation or assertion that we make, and not because we want it, but find a correspondence in the poem itself.

Final words on poem analysis

Admittedly, some poems are really tough and cannot be captured in a few minutes. But sometimes they shouldn't be, which is why we make them the subject of poetry analysis in the first place.

It is therefore important to just start with the preparatory work (reading and understanding) and sift through the poem as often as necessary until you really understand it. Always make sure that we note down all features and abnormalities so that we can interpret and use them later in the poem analysis.

And even if we are writing an exam or written exam and are faced with time pressure, it makes no sense to simply write carelessly.

It is better to take your time and only do an analysis or interpretation when we have grasped all the essential things. Have lots of fun with it!