English 110AP/ Wong by ZWjNJ5QI


									English 110AP/ Wong


       The following questions can help you respond to important elements that
reveal a poem’s effects and meanings. The questions are general, so not all of
them will necessarily be relevant to a particular poem. Many, however, should
prove useful for thinking, talking, and writing about poetry.
       Before addressing these questions, read the poem you are studying in its
entirety. Don’t worry about interpretation on a first reading; allow yourself the
pleasure of enjoying whatever makes itself apparent to you. Next try to
paraphrase the poem to determine whether you understand what happens in it.
Try to get a sense of who is speaking and what the setting or situation is. Then
on subsequent readings, use the questions to understand and appreciate how
the poem works. Use these questions as a means to explore the meaning(s) of
the poem.

1) Who is the speaker? What does the poem reveal about the speaker’s
   character (i.e., age, sex, sensibilities, values, etc.)? How do you know?

2) Is the speaker addressing anyone in particular? If so, who, and why is the
   speaker interested in him/her? How do you know?

3) How do you respond to the speaker? Favorably? Negatively? Are there any
   special circumstances that inform what the speaker says?

4) Is there a specific time or place? How do you know? If past events are being
   recalled, what present meaning do they have for the speaker?

5) What does the title emphasize or suggest?

6) What are the themes or issues addressed in the poem? Are they presented
   directly or indirectly?

7) How does the figurative language contribute to the poem’s vividness and
   meaning? More specifically, do any objects, persons, places, events, or
   actions have allegorical or symbolic meanings? (Allegory—“A narration or
   description usually restricted to a single meaning because of its specific
   events, actions, characters, settings, and objects represent specific
   abstractions or ideas.” Symbol—“ A person, object, image, word, or event that
   evokes a range of additional meaning beyond and usually more abstract than
   its literal significance.”) If so, which, and what might they mean?

8) Do any allusions enrich the poem’s meaning? (“A brief reference to a person,
   place, thing, event, or idea in history or literature. Allusions conjure up biblical

    adapted from Michael Meyer’s Thinking and Writing about Literature
   authority, scenes from Shakespeare’s plays, historic figures, wars, great love
   stories, and anything else that might enrich an author’s work. Allusions imply
   reading and cultural experiences shared by the writer and reader, functioning
   as a kind of shorthand whereby the recalling of something outside the work
   supplies an emotional or intellectual context…” If so, which, and what function
   do they serve?

9) How does the diction reveal meaning? For instance, are any words repeated?
   Do any carry evocative connotative meanings? Are there any puns or other
   forms of verbal wit? Which and what do they suggest?

10) What is the tone of the poem? Is the tone consistent?

11) Is irony used? (“Irony is a literary device that uses contradictory statements
   or situations or reality that is different from what appears to be true. For
   example, it is ironic for a firehouse to burn down, or for a police station to be
   burglarized.”) If so, what function do they serve?

12) What sounds are repeated? Is there a rhyme scheme? If there are rhymes,
    what are their effects? Do they seem forced or natural? Do the rhymes
    contribute to the poem’s meaning?

13) Does the poem’s form—its overall structure—follow an established pattern?
    Do you think the form is a suitable vehicle for the poem’s meaning and

14) Did you enjoy the poem? What, specifically, pleased or displeased you about
    what was expressed and how it was expressed?

15) How might biographical information about the author help to determine the
    central concerns of the poem?

16) How might historical information about the poem provide a useful context for

17) To what extent do your own experiences, values, beliefs, and assumptions
    inform your interpretation?

18) What kinds of evidence from the poem are you focusing on to support your
    interpretation? Does your interpretation leave out any important elements that
    might undercut or qualify your interpretation?

To top