It can be hard to understand what a poem means.It is possible to figure out what the poet is trying to say by annotating a poem.A way to take notes when analyzing a text is annotating.You need to read the poem multiple times to highlight important passages.You can make notes to yourself as you read.You can use your annotations to analyze the poem.
Step 1: You can read through the poem.
Don’t try to figure out what the poem means.Take a few moments to think about how the poem makes you feel.After you finish reading, ask the following questions in your notebook or margins: What is the subject of the poem?Who might the speaker be?What is the meaning of the poem?What do you think about the poem?When might this poem be finished?Did any of the images stand out?What?
Step 2: If you can, read the poem to yourself.
It is best to read a poem aloud because it is an oral art form.When you read aloud, you will be able to recognize the meter, rhyme scheme, and rhythm.You will hear how the poet arranged the words.When you start looking for sound devices later in your annotations, you will need to read the poem several times.You can read the poem in a quiet place.If you’re taking a test or a place where you can’t talk, you may not be able to read the poem loudly.Under your breath, quietly read the poem if this is the case.This isn’t the same as the other one, but it can help you if you’re trying to modify a poem during a test.
Step 3: Take a look at the poem.
The meter will help you understand the poem.The poem is read aloud.You should mark each soft and hard syllable with a “u” and “/” as you read.To mark the feet of the poem, draw a line between each set of syllables.A metrical foot is a single set of syllables in a poem.If a line of poetry has a meter, then a foot would be “u/.”Count the syllables in each line after you identify the number of feet.Three feet is trimeter, four is quadrangular, and five is pentameter.If you can’t identify the meter, try tapping a hand along as you read.For stressed syllables, tap softly.Look at the pattern of the tapping.It can take some practice, so be patient with yourself.You will most often see the iamb, which is 1 stressed and 1 unstressed syllable, but you will also see other patterns.
Step 4: If the poem has a rhyme scheme, determine it.
The rhyme scheme will help you decide if the poem is formal or informal.The rhyme scheme can be found using letters to mark repeating rhymes.Start with an A and use a new letter or the same letter for a repeated sound.Continue until you have finished marking the poem.The rhyme scheme of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 12 is called “When I do count the clock that tells the time.”
Step 5: If it has a form, identify it.
The structure of a poem can add to its meaning.You can see form by looking at the rhyme scheme and meter of the poem.The structure of the poem may have been chosen by the poet.The poem may be a sonnet, haiku, villanelle, acrostic, narrative, ballad, or blank verse poem.A poem with no form is called free verse.These are some of the most common forms in poetry.Informal and formal poems are more likely to follow a form.Informal poems can follow a form or be free verse.The rhyme scheme on the Internet can help you figure out which form the poem is.
Step 6: On your second reading, highlight important or confusing lines.
It’s not important to highlight everything in one pass.You need to read the poem many times to understand its meaning.Don’t stop the first time you read the poem.On the second reading, start your annotations.
Step 7: You can use multiple colors of highlighters to organize your thoughts.
Each color has something in common with a different piece of information.As you study the poem and write your notes, this will help you.Pink could highlight passages you don’t understand, blue could identify words you do not know, and yellow could represent passages that you think are important.You can use a system that works for you.It is okay if you only have one highlighter.You can use it to identify passages you don’t understand.
Step 8: You can analyze the passages if you highlight them.
The key passages in the poem can be identified using your yellow highlighter.Any passage that seems significant to you should be marked.You can highlight repeated words or lines.In your first readings, highlight anything that seems important or meaningful to you, and identify what you have gleaned from the poem so far.If you are writing a paper on the poem, you can draw quotes from your highlighted passages.
Step 9: You can look up words if you mark them.
A blue highlighter is used to indicate words that you don’t know or understand.Depending on what you can find, look them up in your dictionary or online.If you don’t know what the word means in the context of the poem, you can use context clues to figure it out.You can use online resources to look at how people interpret a word in a poem.Poems often use words that have multiple meanings.If you don’t know what a word is, write it down.This will help you with your analysis.Skipping over words you don’t know is not a good idea.It is important that you understand the meaning of that word.It will help you understand the meaning of the poem.
Step 10: To work out the meaning of the lines, highlight them.
To mark lines that don’t make sense, use your pink highlighter.You might struggle to understand the line because of inverted syntax, a reference you don’t know, or a seeming contradiction.You can spend more time on the line if you highlight it.The order of the words in a sentence can be rearranged.It’s normal to say fruit blossomed on the tree.It is okay if you use two colors on the same line.You might think a line is important but not understand it.You could mark it either yellow or pink.To keep the colors from bleeding together, highlight the top of the line in one color and the bottom in another.
Step 11: On the second reading, write notes on the poem.
After enjoying it for the first time, make notes on your paper.You can add new notes when you read the poem.Go back through the poem and look at the highlighted text in the margins.
Step 12: Write down your thoughts on the poem.
When you have a new thought, stop and write it down.At the end of each line, write down your reaction or any questions you have.Try to answer these questions for yourself as you read the poem.You can use these notes later to pull commentary for your analysis if you are writing an essay about the poem.If you can’t figure out the answer to a question, talk to your instructor.You can look for secondary sources online to help you understand the poem.
Step 13: To understand the meaning of the poem, identify literary devices.
A literary device is used to convey meaning in poetry.The poem is more interesting to the reader because of literary devices.The literary devices used in poetry include descriptions and abstract images.Referring to a clock as a pair of hands stealing hours is a form of language.There are objects, characters, situations, places, and words that have a meaning other than what is written.The whale is a symbol for nature and can’t be conquered.Simile is the comparison of two seemingly unlike things, such as “her memory is a cup of sorrows.”The poet refers to something using a word that is related to that thing.They might refer to blood as the life force in your veins.The greybeards pondered, instead of writing “The old men thought.” Hyperbole is an extreme exaggeration, such as “petals from a million roses.” Verbal irony is when someone says one thing but means another.A good example of sarcasm is when you have a bad day and say, “What a great day!”
Step 14: Listen to the sound devices used in the poem.
Sound devices make the poem richer.They allow the poet to convey meaning more easily.Alliteration is the repetition of the same letter sound in a line.The repeating “b” sound is what makes “Blackberries blooming on a prickly bush” possible.The repetition of a sound is called assonance.”Sweet tea flowed free” has a repeating “e” sound.Consonance is the repetition of a sound.”Tickets sold, I kicked the lock” has a repeating “k” sound.The sound is created by the meter.Off rhyme is when two words nearly rhyme but not quite.The words “off” and “loft” almost rhyme.
Step 15: The imagery of the poem can help you understand the themes.
You can enjoy the poem if you like the imagery.It might cause a sensation of sight, sound, smell, touch, or taste.Think about what the poet might want you to take from the passages that contain words or phrases that help you experience the poem.Take a look at the descriptive words and phrases in the poem.In Shakespeare’s Sonnet 12 we see trees that have lost their leaves and are now grey.Shakespeare is reflecting on the passage of time.
Step 16: What is happening in each section?
Making brief summaries for yourself can help you figure out the meaning of a poem.Pick out any notable images in the passage and write down what you think is going on.You can use this to analyze the poem later.We could summarize the first four lines of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 12 like this: “The narrator is watching time pass, which turns youth into old age.”
Step 17: The speaker of the poem should be named.
The narrator is the speaker in the poem.The speaker’s persona should be considered if you think they are the poet.What is their point of view?What do they think about it?The speaker isn’t always the poet.To understand the poem, you need to know who the speaker is.Could the speaker be a poet?Does the speaker have a name?Does the speaker have the same image as the poet?The language used in the poem tells me something about the speaker.The speaker has an attitude about him.What is the setting?What is happening in the poem?I don’t know how to describe this speaker.
Step 18: The tone of the poem should be determined.
The tone is the speaker’s attitude towards the subject.As the tone shows what the poet wants you to feel about the subject, it can help you understand the messages within the poem.Consider the language used in the poem and how it made you feel.Shakespeare’s Sonnet 12 has a dark tone, as the speaker describes time stealing away youth.It has a mocking twist at the end, as the speaker notes that having children can defy time as you live on through them.
Step 19: The line breaks in the poem, but focus on the sentences.
While line breaks are important to the structure of the poem, the poet still expresses their thoughts in sentences.When you are studying the poem’s meaning, stop at the line breaks.If the lines use end-stopped lines, notice.Enjambment means that thoughts continue across multiple lines or couplets, while end-stopped lines end with punctuation.Think about why the poet may have arranged their words in this way after you have gotten a sense of where the lines break.Does this arrangement place more emphasis on certain words?Stop at the line breaks if the poem lacks clarity.If the poet didn’t use punctuation because they intended for you to stop at the line breaks, then consider that.
Step 20: The setting of the poem can be found.
When and where the poem takes place is the setting.The context of the poem can be understood with this.The descriptions in the poem can be used to determine the setting.The historical and cultural context of the poem can help you understand it.The historical and cultural context of a poem can be determined by examining the language the poet uses, the situation the poem presents, and the background of the Poet.It’s a good idea to read about the era when the poet wrote the poem.Although historical and cultural context are important, don’t make them the focus of your interpretation of the poem.
Step 21: Determine the poem’s themes to comprehend its meaning.
The underlying messages in the poem are love and loss.The poem will have at least one theme that the poet is trying to get across.The heart of the poem will be the themes.What is the speaker’s attitude toward the subject?What do the images suggest about the subject?What are the events in the poem?What does the setting look like?How does the poem make you feel?Why did the poet write this poem?Who is the subject of the poem?
Step 22: Do you know what the meaning of the poem is?
The meaning of the poem may be added to by the title.Some poets choose a title to let you know what they were thinking about when they wrote the poem.Some poems may take their title from the poem itself.Shakespeare’s Sonnet 12 takes its title from its number in the sequence of poems.The title does not tell you anything new about the poem.If the title was “When I Look Upon My Love,” you could understand the meaning in more detail.