Mnemonics for Poetry Analysis
Repetition of idea
Alliteration (and assonance)
Rhyme and rhythm
Symbol: Examine the title and text for symbolism.
Imagery: Identify images and sensory details.
Figurative Language: Analyze figurative language and other devices.
Tone: Discuss how all devices reveal tone.
Theme: Discuss how all devices reveal theme
Paraphrase: This means putting the poem or story into your own words.
Purpose: The poetry and prose used on AP exams deal with universal themes. Good literature is
specific and detailed in order to underscore more general concepts. The author’s purpose may
not necessarily be immediately clear, but an insightful reader will note related ideas.
Structure: If the piece is a poem, is it divided into stanzas? Is there any reason for these stanza
breaks? Does a sentence begin in one stanza and then move to the next one (enjambment)?
How does this affect meaning? If it is prose, how does the author develop the characters and
the plot? How do the traditional story elements manifest themselves?
Shift: Are there changes in tone, point of view, language? Just as a car shifts to accelerate and
accommodate hills, does the text move to reflect differences in attitude?
Speaker: Who is the speaker? Is there more than one? Is the speaker using first or third person?
How does viewpoint affect meaning? Be careful not to confuse the speaker with the author;
they are not necessarily the same.
Spelling/Grammar/ Diction: Are there any unusual spellings, words, or capitalization? Is there
inversion? Is the language unusual?
Tone: Is the tone positive or negative? What are the words that describe it most accurately?
Theme: Is a universal meaning offered, either explicitly or implicitly?
Title: Does the title give any hint as to the meaning?
Syntax: defining/effective sentence structure
Language: type used (refer to ‘language’ words) and connection to audience (do a SOAPS)
Literary Devices: metaphor, personification, hyperbole, etc.
Imagery: visual, auditory, tactile, olfactory, gustatory
Diction: connotative word choice
Detail: concrete aspects of the passage
Tone: identify specifically/provide a pair of different yet complementary tones (refer to ‘tone’
Organization: movement in the passage between tones, ideas, defining literary/rhetorical strategies
Point of View: perspective of the passage and significance
Title: Ponder the title before reading the poem
Paraphrase: Translate the poem into your own words
Connotation: Contemplate the poem for meaning beyond the literal
Attitude: Observe both the speaker's and the poet's attitude (tone)
Shifts: Note shifts/progressions in speakers and in attitudes
 Key words (but, yet, however, although)
 Punctuation (dashes, periods, colons, ellipsis)
 Stanza or paragraph divisions
 Changes in line or stanza length, or both
 Irony (sometimes irony hides shifts)
 Structure (how the work is written can affect its meaning)
 Changes in sound (may indicate changes in meaning)
 Changes in diction (ex: slang to formal language)
Title: Examine the title again, this time on an interpretive level
Theme: Determine what the poet is saying
Title: Anticipate Meaning. Questions?
Paraphrase: What's it about? One-three sentences
Figurative Devices: Look beyond the literal at figurative and sound devices. Give examples. How do
they affect meaning, feeling?
Attitude: Analyze narrator's and/or poet's attitude (TONE)
Shifts: Note shifts in tone, subject, speaker, situation, or diction.
Title: Re-consider the meaning of the title.
Theme: What is the poem saying? What is “message?”