Poetry Paper #1


In 600-700 words, analyze a poem of your choice.

Please focus your choices on a poem written in English

The poem needs to be published over the last 100 years(1922-2022).

And your poem choice must be from a digital issue of POETRYMAGAZINE at Poetry Foundation online:   


  • In your introduction, briefly (2-3 sentences) write about why you chose the poem.
  • Then (still in the introduction) briefly lay out what specific elements of poetry you’ll discuss.
    • A good strategy is to pick only one-to-three elements of poetry that are really strong in the poem; there are so many technical elements of poetry and you’re writing a relatively short paper (500-700).

Here’s a brief list: metaphors, simile, voice(s)/style, meter,rhyme scheme, stanzas, number of lines per stanza or one long poem (why), linebreaks (why), imagery, personification, synecdoche, litotes, alliteration, etc.

  • Then develop a thesis or main idea that explains YOUR INTERPRETATION of the poem. Include this in your introductory paragraph.
  • Then in your discussion of the poem (body paragraphs), show how the elements of the poem (the language as well as the poet’s craft choices) come together to create the effect or express the idea suggested by your main idea (your interpretation of the poem). 
    • Your main idea is, essentially, your interpretation of the poem
  • Write about  one or more of the poetic elements (or poet’s craft choices) i.e. metaphors, symbols, similes, stanza breaks, line breaks, use of capitalization & punctuation, litotes, metonymy, hyperbole, personification, apostrophe, synecdoche, sounds in the poem, rhythms, meter, rhyme schemes, lack of rhyme schemes, etc.) that lead you to or that helps you prove or show that your interpretation of the poem is a valid one and readers need to accept it as true.
  • End the paper with a bang, not a whimper. In other words, wrap up the paper by leaving a strong impression with your readers. Give them something to think about.

Important!**  Include acopy of THE POEM you’re analyzing with your paper. Don’t assume I’ve read thepoem, so briefly summarize or paraphrase the poem in your introduction. You canassume, however, that I’m extremely knowledgeable in the technical language orelements of poetry. I won’t read papers that DO NOT include the text of thepoem with the paper.


Important!**   Includean MLA style Work Cited page at the end of your paper.

Consider some of the following:

  • What is the poem aiming at? 
  • In other words, what might it want to accomplish in the reader?
  • How does it attempt to get there? And does it succeed?
  • Is the poem primarily trying to say, do, or be somethingi.e. to express some content, to create an effect, or to exist like an object?
  • How do you know?
  • What is the paraphrasable content of the poem?
  • What story is the poem telling, if any?
  • How is the poem using the material aspects of language (the sounds, meter, or rhyme, and even the look on the page, if that is relevant) to create an effect or a meaning?
  • Describe that affect.
  • Note in particular any unusual or striking poeticstype of line or stanza, meter, language devices or figurative language–i.e. metaphor, simile, irony, apostrophe, symbol, personification, hyperbole, litotes, synecdoche, metonymy, and imagery, etc.

Note: Every poem has a poetics,whether the form is open or closed. If you choose an open formpoem, it will not be enough merely to note that the poem is in open form. Youstill must discover the poetics (poetics is NOT limited to meter and rhyme).

Reminders: This is to be an essay, not a collection of answersto the above questions. Remember also to include a copy of the original poemwith your paper. Be sure to give your essay an original title.

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