TPCASTT Poetry Analysis Technique



Poetry Analysis Technique

Shauna Rynn Waters

What is TPCASTT?

• TPCASTT is an acronym of steps used to analyze poetry. The results of TPCASTT can be used to write an essay.

• There are seven steps in the TPCASTT process.

T -- Title

• Ponder the title before reading the poem

• Look at the title and attempt to predict what the poem will be about.

• Using the sample in front of you, let’s do this step now.

P -- Paraphrase

• Translate the poem into your own words

• Make sure you understand the literal plot of the poem.

• Write notes in the margin beside each major section of the poem so you can review these later

C -- Connotation

• Contemplate the poem for meaning beyond the literal level

• Look for any and all poetic devices and try to see how those devices contribute to the meaning, the effect or both of the poem

– Metaphor, simile, personification, alliteration, onomatopoeia, rhythm, rhyme, symbolism, and diction

• Analyze your sample poem now. Circle these devices and make margin notes about their meanings.

A -- Attitude

• Observe both the speaker’s attitude and the poet’s attitude (this may or may not be clear)

• This, of course, is TONE.

• Remember that these attitudes will probably shift or be mixed in the poem. Label all you see, especially if you see a shift.

S -- Shift

• Note shifts in speakers or attitudes

• See your handout for more information about indicators of shifts

• Are there any shifts in the poem before you?

T – Title (again)

• Re-examine the title. Try to see how the title fits with the work as a whole.

• This time, you are interpreting the title, not just predicting or looking at it literally.

T -- Theme

• Determine what the poet is saying


• Identify the theme by recognizing the human experience, motivation, or condition of the poem.

• Follow the steps on your handout to help you come to theme.

• Notice that theme is not a trite parable or axiom

• One work may have several possible themes

Weaving it together

• Now that you have an understanding of the basics of the poem, you are ready to pick and choose pieces of the TPCASTT process to answer whatever the writing prompt has asked you to address.

• You may not need everything you’ve labeled.


• “Siren Song” – in class

• Choose two poems from the packet to do for homework – due tomorrow