Poetry analysis is focused on:
THEME AND MEANING AND
POETIC GENRE AND TECHNICAL
(rhyme, rhythm and meter).
Poems will carry characteristics and concerns of the
time in which they were written
Having some knowledge of these characteristics and
expectations will help you understand individual
LITERAL PERIOD DEF…….
By a LITERARY PERIOD we mean a span of time
which is thought to display some typical features
which differentiate it from the periods which
precede and follow it.
LITERAL PERIOD DATES FROM WAY
450-1066 Old English (or Anglo-Saxon) Period
1066-1500 Middle English Period
1500-1660 The Renaissance
1558-1603 Elizabethan Age
1603-1625 Jacobean Age
1625-1649 Caroline Age
1649-1660 Commonwealth Period (or Puritan
1660-1785 The Neoclassical Period
1660-1700 The Restoration
1700-1745 The Augustan Age (or Age of Pope)
1745-1785 The Age of Sensibility (or Age of Johnson)
1785-1830 The Romantic Period
1832-1901 The Victorian Period
1848-1860 The Pre-Raphaelites
1880-1901 Aestheticism and Decadence (fin de siècle)
THEME AND MEANING
There are often two types of meaning: literal and
The literal meaning of a poem is what actually
happens in the poem, on a purely superficial level
The figurative meaning is generally associated with
the theme, and is usually more abstract (i.e., a
concept, rather than a concrete physical
It is the meaning behind the action
WORDS CREATE PICTURES IN YOUR MIND
IMAGERY IS THROUGH:
• DETAILED DESCRIPTION
One chief way of conveying theme is through the use of
symbolism, the concrete representation of an abstract
concept. These objects are so universal that they have a
meaning in themselves,
For example, one commonly used symbol for peace is the
dove, and so when one flies over a battlefield we may
take this as a symbol of a ceasefire, that peace is on its
way. If the dove is shot down, we may take this as a
symbol of the shattering of hope for peace.
A simile is a comparison of one unlike thing to
another, whereby the comparison is explicit (i.e.,
directly stated) using a comparative such as "like"
or "as". Examples: "The clouds drifted past as
lazily as swans on a summer night," "The evening
smothered us like the heavy down quilt on my
A metaphor is a comparison of one unlike thing to
another, whereby the comparison is implicit (i.e., not
directly stated), and there is no use of a comparative.
Examples: "The clouds drifted past, lazy as swans on a
summer night," "The suffocating quilt of the evening
descended upon us, stealing our breath and weighing us
A ballad is fundamentally a song that tells a story.
The folk ballad is traditionally an anonymous poem
that has been passed on through oral tradition
(spoken aloud or sung) from generation to generation
or by travelling entertainers like bards or minstrels. A
literary ballad is one that is not anonymous, but it is
written down by a poet as he composes it, and it is
not necessarily meant to be sung
Most ballads tend to follow these elements:
the beginning is often abrupt;
the language is usually simple;
the story is told through dialogue and action; and
there is often a refrain, or chorus.
Although there are exceptions, most ballads have
four-line stanzas (not counting musical refrains)
and follow an ABAB or ABCB rhyme scheme.
A ballad with six lines per stanza is not
An epic poem is usually a very long poem of several
thousand lines relating the story of a hero and his
struggle against impossible odds. This is one of the
oldest forms of poetry and was usually recited orally by
professional storytellers or singers over several nights,
often at a court or feasting table. In fact, the oldest
poem in any modern European language is the Old
English (Anglo-Saxon) epic Beowulf.
A lyric is traditionally fairly short, between four and
sixty lines, and usually expresses the feelings and
thoughts or a single speaker in a personal and
subjective fashion. The range and variety of lyric verse
is immense and lyric poetry composes the bulk of all
poetry. If the poem is not narrative or dramatic (which
usually follows the other genres given here), it is
probably a lyric poem. Most poems fall into the general
categories of love, lamentation (sadness) and the
dealing with the natural world).
A sonnet is a poem of fourteen lines in iambic
pentameter (see Meter). For high school
purposes, they are usually divided into two main
Petrarchian, or Italian Sonnet and
- Shakesperean or Elizabethan Sonnet
Petrarchan, or Italian Sonnet
This sonnet consists of an octave (eight lines)
rhyming ABBAABBA and a sestet (six lines)
rhyming CDECDE or CDCDCD.
This octave develops a thought, and the sestet is
a comment on it, a completion of it, or a volta
('turn') on the idea.
This is the most common type of sonnet.
Shakespearean, or Elizabethan Sonnet
This type of sonnet derives its name from the
many sonnets composed by William Shakespeare
in this form.
It is composed of three quatrains (four lines
each) rhyming ABAB CDCD EFEF, each one
with a different idea building upon the one
before it, and of a couplet (two lines)
rhyming GG, with the conclusion.
TWO TYPE OF VERSES
Blank verse consists of unrhymed five-stress
lines, properly iambic pentameter (see Meter).
Much of the poetry of Milton, Wordsworth,
Coleridge and the Romantics were composed in
blank verse. For example:
For you I'll hazard all: why, what care I?
For you I'll live, and in your love I'll die.
Free verse has no regular meter, line length or
rhyme, and often depends on natural speech
Although a poem can be both a lyric and free
verse, this latter term is usually more apt for
longer pieces, especially when elements of the
narrative or the dramatic are present.
FORMER. L, IMAGERY IN POETRY TEP 424
RESOURCE, 16 NOVEMBER 2011
DU TOIT DODD. M, INTRODUCTION TO BASIS
POETRY ANALYSIS AND FORMS OF POETRY, 14
NAKAZAKI. C, LITERARY DEVICES AND POETRY
NOTES, 21 DECEMBER 2011
SAMSON. N, BASIC ELEMENT OF POETRY, 04
NARACA. A,ELEMENTS OF POETRY, 14 DECEMBER
Although most people are familiar with rhyme, it may be formally
defined as the use of words in which there are similarities in an
accentuated vowel and the consonants that accompany it. It is
said to have two chief functions:
it echoes sounds and it is thus a source of artistic satisfaction.
There is pleasure in the sound itself and in the coincidence of
sounds, and this is associated with music, rhythm and beat;
it assists in the actual structure of verse, organizing it and
opening and concluding the sense. It is thus used to 'bind' the
It is the pattern of stressed and unstressed
syllables to communicate rhythm. The best
way of analyzing a regular meter is to
write out at least two lines, writing "/" (a
sharp accent) above stressed syllables (those
that carry more emphasis) and "U" (a short
accent) above unstressed syllables
For example, read the following line aloud and notice what
syllables you pronounce more forcefully:
U / U /
/ U / U /
The world is too much with us late and soon
A line following the above pattern is common in English
literature, especially in sonnets (see poetic genres), and is called
iambic pentameter. "Iambic" means it follows an "unstressedstressed" pattern, and "pentameter" means that it has five sets of
two syllables each, amounting to ten syllables.
Be sure to note that not all stressed/unstressed syllables
fall in an alternating pattern like the above.