A. How to read a poem:
There is no single way. The best advice I can give you is to sit by yourself in a quiet place and read aloud slowly, several times, paying attention to the images, ideas, and feelings the words call into your mind, imagination, and heart. Poetry can be magical stuff, but it can't compete with ipods and cell phones, tv's and texting. Give it a chance to get inside you and stretch out.
B. Questions to ask of individual poems:
1. Who is the speaker of the poem? What qualities of personality does the poet provide? What kind of language does the speaker use? How does the speaker's mind work? What hints of personal history are given? Are there any specific facts about the speaker's identity?
2. What is the situation of the poem? Is there a social, cultural, historical, or familial context given? Does the poem refer to any specific events? Does it contain an account of an incident? Imagine the poem as a dramatic utterance—what scene is being portrayed?
3. What is the tone of the poem? Are there words that describe the attitude of the speaker toward the subject of the poem as a whole? Does the tone change as the poem develops? If so, where are those "turns" (shifts of tone or subject)? What is the tone of individual lines or sections of the poem?
4. How would you paraphrase the poem into a series of prose sentences. What clarity is gained from paraphrasing? What essential qualities are lost?
5. Does the poem have a basic meter? What is it? How does it either advance the musicality of the poem or provide emphasis to certain words and ideas? Where does the meter change?
6. What devices or poetic techniques does the poet employ? How does the poet use strong diction, concrete detail, sensory images, irony, or figurative language? How do these devices help us better understand some element of the poem's meaning? How does the use of language strengthen both the idea of the poem and its emotional content?
C. Define and be able to identify examples of each of the following terms:
sonnet (Elizabethan, Petrarchan)
symbol & allegory
TONE (apply to poems)