Step One: Read through the poem.
Read through at least twice.
Read it aloud – this helps with the
important elements of sound
Follow the punctuation when
reading: pause at commas and stop
at periods – not the end of the line
Step Two: Pay attention to the title.
The title often contains a message
or important information.
Example: Langston Hughes’s poem
“Mother to Son”
Step Three: Look up unfamiliar words or
research historical references.
Use a dictionary to define
Research references (allusions) to
historical events or figures that
may be unfamiliar to you.
Step Four: Paraphrase the meaning of
Translate the poem line-by-line.
Write the language in your own
Step Five: Examine the speaker.
The poet is usually not the speaker.
The speaker is a character, just like
in a novel or play.
Is the speaker a woman, a man, a
Step Six: Think about all possible
Think about the nursery rhyme
“Jack and Jill”
Step Seven: Examine the words carefully
Look carefully at adjectives,
adverbs, nouns, and verbs.
What connotative meaning do
Step Eight: Look for symbols.
Examine the nouns.
Could any of them have a deeper
meaning or represent a larger
Example: the dawn, light, end of
Step Nine: Look for the main message of
What is the tone of the poem?
What is the overall meaning or
message the author is trying to
Step Ten: Examine the poetic devices.
See your chart of devices you may
analyze in relation to poetry.
Complete the chart by researching
the terms, using your text or the