Poetry Explication

Poetry Explication
The Art of Examining and
Analyzing Poetry
Title, Paraphrase, Connotation, Attitude, Title (again), Theme
STEP 1: Begin by Examining the Title
• What images come to mind?
• Examples:
– “The Chimney Sweepers” by William Blake
What other
ideas, words,
associations do
you make with
this image?
– “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” by William
*Title, Paraphrase, Connotation, Attitude, Title (again), Theme (TP-CATT)
Examining the Title (cont’d)
• What emotions come to mind?
• Examples:
“Never Try to Trick Me with a Kiss” by Sylvia Plath
“O Captain! My Captain!” by Walt Whitman
“In the Moonlight” by Thomas Hardy
“When You are Old” by William Butler Yeats
“The Promise of the Morning Star” by Amy Powell
*Title, Paraphrase, Connotation, Attitude, Title (again), Theme (TP-CATT)
STEP 2: Read the Poem and PARAPHRASE
*Title, Paraphrase, Connotation, Attitude, Title (again), Theme (TP-CATT)
Step 2: When you paraphrase ask yourself…
• Who is the speaker?
• Who does the speaker address?
• What conflicts or themes does the poem
present, address, or question?
• What happens in the poem? Is there a
• Where is the speaker? Physical
location? Setting?
• When does the action occur?
• Why does the speaker feel compelled to
*Title, Paraphrase, Connotation, Attitude, Title (again), Theme (TP-CATT)
Who is the Speaker/Persona?
• Who is doing the talking?
– The speaker is the character or persona created by
the poet
– Describe the speaker
• TITLE: “Mother to Son”
• POET: Langston Hughes
Step 3: Analyze your connotation with the poet’s word choice
• The words the poet selects and the way
they are phrased can alter the meaning of
the poem
• Connotation- the association we make
with words
-Let’s give it a try…
*Title, Paraphrase, Connotation, Attitude, Title (again), Theme (TP-CATT)
Look for the Literary Devices
• Stanzas-two or more lines of poetry that together form one of the divisions of
a poem
– usually of the same length and follow the same pattern of meter and rhyme
– almost like the poem is broken up into “paragraphs”
• Rhyme Scheme -pattern of rhyme throughout the poem
– Blank Verse- poetry written in iambic pentameter (10 syllabus per line)
– Free Verse- poetry composed of either RHYMED or UNRHYMED lines
that have no set meter (pattern of syllabus)
• Alliteration-repetition at the beginning
-Peter Piper picked a pack of pickled peppers
• Repetition- sometime the poet will repeat a specific word or phrase to
emphasize an idea, feeling, or perhaps to create rhythm in the poem (beat)
• Assonance-repetition of vowels
-Fleet feet sweep by sleeping Greeks
• Consonance-repetition of consonants sounds within the
-Rap rejects my tape deck, ejects projectile
Find the Figurative Language
• Metaphor- comparison of two unrelated things
• Simile- same as metaphor except you use “like” or “as” and the
comparison is more obvious
• Personification- inanimate objects given human characteristics
• Symbolism- an object comes to represent something else entirely
(sometimes it’s very obvious and other times it’s left to the reader
to interpret the symbolism)
• Allusions- references to other works or events outside the poem
(can be referring to something in history or another author/poet)
• Hyperbole- an exaggeration is made for emphasis
– example: “I’ve told you a million times to clean your room”)
• Onomatopoeia- words are used to imitate sounds
– Examples: buzz, boom, bang
• Imagery- when a word or phrase that appeals directly to the
reader’s senses
Step 4: Examine Speaker’s Attitude
• After exploring the word choice, literary
devices, and figurative language evaluate
what the speaker’s attitude or tone is
towards the subject of the poem
• Include critical adjectives when pinpointing
the attitude or tone in the poem
*Title, Paraphrase, Connotation, Attitude, Title (again), Theme (TP-CATT)
Step 5: Examine the Title (again)
• Try to examine the title again on a more
interpretive level
• What new insight does the title provide in
understanding the poem?
*Title, Paraphrase, Connotation, Attitude, Title (again), Theme (TP-CATT)
Step 6: Evaluate the Theme
• What does the poem say about the human
experience or human nature?
• How does it relate to life?
• What subject or subjects does the poem
address? What do you learn about them?
• What message or idea does the poet want
to leave the reader with?
*Title, Paraphrase, Connotation, Attitude, Title (again), Theme (TP-CATT)
Step 7: Research the Poet
• Research the background of the poet to
see what influences or events may have
inspired the poet to create a poem on the
given subject
Well, son, I'll tell you:
Life for me ain't been no crystal stair.
It's had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor -Bare.
But all the time
I'se been a-climbin' on,
And reachin' landin's,
And turnin' corners,
And sometimes goin' in the dark
Where there ain't been no light.
So boy, don't you turn back.
Don't you set down on the steps
'Cause you finds it's kinder hard.
Don't you fall now -For I'se still goin', honey,
I'se still climbin',
And life for me ain't been no crystal stair.
Example 1:
There once was a big brown cat a
That liked to eat a lot of mice. b
He got all round and fat a
Because they tasted so nice.b
Example 2:
Whose woods these are I think I know. a
His house is in the village though; a
He will not see me stopping here b
To watch his woods fill up with snow. a
My little horse must think it queer b
To stop without a farmhouse near b
Between the woods and frozen lake c
The darkest evening of the year. b
Say the first thing that pops in your
head when you hear the word…
Examples of Metaphors…
“Sea of Troubles”
“Time is a Thief”
“Life is a Roller Coaster”
I like to chat all the time
I am very helpful in an emergency
I often play games with my owner
I sometimes interrupt when my owner is busy
I can drop a beat in the middle of the street
I feel important because I go everywhere my owner
What am I?
Imagery Example
Write down the four senses the poem appeals to…
“Stainless blue sky,
jubilant voices of children
crisp bite of a swollen apple,
the afternoon sun hugs our shoulders…”
We were both young when I first saw
I close my eyes, and the flashback
I'm standing there...
That you were Romeo,
You were throwing pebbles,
And my daddy said, "Stay away from
And I was crying on the staircase,
Begging you, "Please don't go".
And I said,
"Romeo, take me somewhere we can
be alone.
I'll be waiting, all that's left to do is run.
You be the prince, and I'll be the
It's a love story, baby, just say, 'yes'."
Allusion Example
'Cause you were Romeo,
I was a scarlet letter,
And my daddy said, "Stay away from
But you were everything to me,
Begging you, "Please don't go".
And I said,
"Romeo, take me somewhere we can be
I'll be waiting, all that's left to do is run.
You be the prince, and I'll be the princess,
It's a love story, baby, just say, 'yes'."
"Romeo, save me, they're trying to tell me
how to feel.