Here is a quick checklist to use when working on a poem:
- The title: Does it seem special? Can you see that it has any special meaning once you have worked with the poem?
- The speaker/voice in the poem: Is it a particular person? Is it the poet him- or herself? Is it a neutral voice?
- What is going on in the poem? Is it telling a story? Is it sharing a feeling or impression? Is it developing an idea?
- Are there any especially important words in the poem? Are there words with special connotations? What is the effect of some of the words the poet has chosen?
- Literary devices: What is the effect of metaphors, similes and symbols used? Do they help to create certain images in your mind?
- Tone: What is the poet’s or the poem’s attitude? Is the tone serious; sombre; ironic, satirical, angry, humorous, detached etc.
- Sound effects: Is there any rhyme, repetition, alliteration? If so what is the effect?
- Structure: Is the poem written in stanzas? How does the poem flow? Are there important breaks in the poem? Are certain words or punctuation or line lengths used to create a break within the poem?
- Free verse: If the poem is in free verse, do such things as structure, layout and repetition help to create an effect?
- Theme: So what is the poem about? What is its purpose, meaning? What does the poem make us see, feel, think or understand? How can you use points 1-9 to help you explain this?