How to Write a Poem Analysis Essay: Key Points to Focus On

An essay about a poem may have to be larger than the very poem is. If you are confused about what to write, the tips below will help you.

  • Read the poem attentively to understand it.
  • It may be helpful to read it aloud more than once. As a result, you should be able to tell what this poem is about. For example, The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe is about a man who sits alone at night grieving about his beloved one.

  • Identify the most important lines.
  • Mark the lines that convey the key meaning of the poem as you see it. You will use them to prove your opinion on what the message of this poem is.

  • Identify the confusing areas.
  • Highlight – in a different way – the lines or words about the meaning of which you are not sure about. You will return to them later.

  • Decide on the main focus of your paper.
  • You may choose to write about the poem’s main themes; such as love, death, or war. Alternatively, you may focus on the genre. Does this poem fit into a specific literary movement, such as romanticism or modernism? What features does it possess that enable you to say so? Another option is to analyze the cultural context. Which historical events are portrayed or mentioned in this poem? What does it tell you about the ethics, philosophy, or economics of that age? If neither of these options appeals to you, take the most reliable path – analyze the use of rhyme, meter, or a particular figure of speech (metaphor, synecdoche, litotes, etc.) in this poem.

  • Mark the text.
  • After you choose your main focus, return to the poem and search it for evidence. If you are writing about metaphors, find and underline all examples of them. If you are writing about the theme of love, highlight the lines that seem appropriate. These marks will lay the foundation of your essay.

  • Explain the meaning of the poem.
  • Begin your essay with a brief summary of the poem’s main idea. Assume that your readers are not familiar with it.

  • Analyze how the use of tropes helps convey the poem’s main idea.
  • Use direct citations to prove your point.

  • Explain the confusing areas.
  • Return to the fragments that have confused you. Think of what these words or lines can mean in the context of the poem’s key message you have identified. Comment on them briefly in your essay.