Does the title tell us anything? Is there
an introduction to the poem?
Who is speaking in this poem? The poet
may not necessarily be the speaker.
Does the poet address the subject of the
poem directly? Look out for the word "you". If
the poet does this, it creates a sense of
What is the poem about? In other words,
what is the main message (theme) the
poet is trying to get across?
What is the tone of the poem? Is it happy
or sad, nostalgic or bitter, for example?
Try to imagine the poet reading the poem aloud. What
tone of voice do you think he or she would use? This can
help you work out the mood of the poem. Watch out for
irony: the poet saying one thing but meaning another.
Does the tone of the poem change at all?
Sometimes a poet may be angry at the start
but calm and reflective by the end.
Rhythm: Is the pace of the poem fast or slow? Does this tell us anything
about the theme or the tone? (A slow rhythm is often associated with
sadness.) What effect does the rhythm have? Does the rhythm vary? If so,
why? Poems can have exciting moments in between calm, reflective ones.
Look at the images in the
poem. Are they effective?
Do you like them?
Look at the tense or tenses used in the poem. The present tense can suggest immediacy or an
unresolved issue. The past tense can indicate that the poet has come to terms with the issue. Does
the tense change at all? (Like in "The Lake Isle of Innisfree") What does the tense change tell you?
Think about the literary terms
you learned when studying
poetry. Start with sound. Is there
any alliteration, assonance,
onomatopoeia, etc.? Underline
these as you notice them.
What other poetic techniques does the poet use? Are there
metaphors, similes or symbols used? Are they effective?
Do they help to create a picture in your mind?
What kind of language is used in the poem? Is it modern? Is it easy to
understand? Is there slang? If so, why do you think it is used?