Annotating the Poem

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A method for annotating a poem.

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Annotating the Poem

  1. 1. + Annotating the Poem Mary Ann Reilly Blueprints for Learning 2014
  2. 2. + What to Pay Attention to:The Title 1. Does the title immediately influence what you are about to read, or does it, at the moment you begin your first reading, remain mysterious or vague? 1. After you have thought about the poem, how do you think the title relates to it?
  3. 3. + What to Pay Attention to: Speaker 1. Who “tells” the poem? Are there things you can say about the speaker’s personality, point of view, tone, society, age, or gender? 2. Does the speaker seem attached or detached from what is said?
  4. 4. + What to Pay Attention to: Setting 1. Where and when does the poem take place? 1. Is there a particular occasion for the poem?
  5. 5. + What to Pay Attention to: Key Words, Allusions 1. Which words stand out, and why? 1. Pay exceedingly close attention to what individual words mean—and especially to what you think might be keywords, since this is where meaning can be concentrated. 1. Define what you do not know.
  6. 6. + What to Pay Attention to: Diction 1. Is the word choice distinctive? Does it add up to a kind of style—for example, is it elaborate, dense, simple, formal, conversational, descriptive? 1. How would you describe the level of language and vocabulary (register): informal, formal, common, casual, neutral, mixed?
  7. 7. + What to Pay Attention to:Tone 1. What is the attitude taken by the “voice” of the poem toward the subjects of the poem? 1. Is the tone serious, argumentative,distant, friendly, sad, playful, cheerful, conversational—or is it mixed, changing, or unclear?
  8. 8. + What to Pay Attention to:Word Order 1. Focus on how the words are ordered. Look for patterns. 2. Is the word order or sentence structure unusual in any way, and what is the effect of this? 3. Are there any noticeable patterns in the ordering of words? If so, how do the patterns contribute to meaning?
  9. 9. + What to Pay Attention to: Sound Rhythm & Rhyme 1. Do words at the end of lines rhyme? Middle of lines? Why kind of rhymes are they? Do they form a pattern (a rhyme scheme) that is regular or irregular? 2. Do the rhyming words have any relationship with each other? Does the rhyme concentrate meaning in any way?
  10. 10. + What to Pay Attention to: Imagery 1. Are certain words used in unusual, exaggerated, or metaphorical ways? What effect do these figures of speech have? (Such as personification)
  11. 11. + What to Pay Attention to:Theme 1. Is there one main problem/situation in the poem? How does the speaker think through that problem? 2. How do the ideas change from line to line, stanza to stanza? 3. Does the poem reflect a particular experience, feeling, or concept?

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