Does the title give any clues as to what the poem may be about? Explain what the title may mean or what it tells you about the poem that you are about to read.
Title Examine the LITERAL meaning of the title before reading the poem.
Paraphrase Translate the poem line by line into your own words. Resist jumping into interpretation; you are looking at literal meaning.
Connotation Examine the poem for meaning beyond the literal translation. Look for: Diction: word choice Imagery: word pictures (5 senses) Figures of Speech: metaphor, simile, personification, allusion, etc. Musical Devices: alliteration, onomatopoeia, rhythm, rhyme scheme, etc. Irony: surprising, interesting, or amusing contradictions Symbolism: word, phrase, or other object that stands for something else
Attitude Tone-- look for the speaker’s tone and the author’s tone. What are their attitudes toward the audience?
Shifts Note shifts in the speaker or attitude Occasion: time and place Key words: “but,” “yet,” etc. Punctuation: dashes, periods, colons Stanza length/change in foot: notice when the poem seems to speed up or slow down
Title Look at the title on an INTERPRETIVE level.
Theme First list what the poem is about (subjects) then determine what the poet is saying about each of these subjects. Express the theme as a complete sentence.
In addition to these items, make sure youcan answer the following questions: Who is the speaker in this poem? Who is the audience for the poem? What is the purpose of this poem? Does the author achieve it?
Literary Association What song, movie, book, or story comes to mind when you read this poem? Why does this other piece of literature remind you of this poem? What do they have in common?
Personal Association What does this poem remind you of from your own life?
One more thing… Use these symbols the first time you read the poem: * = This word or line is cool ! = This is something important ? = I don’t get it: I don’t understand this line or phrase