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1. READ THE POEM.

Who is Speaking?
The poet and the speaker are not the same thing. The poet writes the poem, but
there is someone "speaking" in it who is not necessarily the poet.
Knowing who the poet is and when and where s/he wrote can sometimes provide
useful information which will help you understand what is being said. Remember: all
literature is written in a social, cultural and historical context, and understanding this
context can add greatly to your understand and interpretation of the poem.
The poet and the speaker are not the same thing. The poet writes the poem, but
there is someone "speaking" in it who is not necessarily the poet. The speaker in
poetry is similar to the narrative voice in prose fiction. S/he is not always identifiable,
but may be real or imagined, personal or impersonal.
When and Where is the Poem Set?
The setting of a poem is where the poem takes place. It may be located in a specific
place which has direct bearing on the poem's message. For example, William
Blake's "London" is, obviously, set in London and the poem critiques what was
happening in London at the time of the poem being written.
However, identifying the setting of a poem is not always as easy and obvious as
Blake's "London". A poem can be set anywhere, in the past, present or future, in an
imagined or real location. Knowing the setting of a poem can indicate the mood or
atmosphere that the poem is trying to convey, as well as help your understanding of
the poem's message.
POPULAR TOPICS
What are the Form and Structure of the Poem?
When a poet decides to write a poem, s/he also chooses a specific form that they
think will best convey their ideas. Poetry encompasses many modes: narrative,
dramatic, satiric, polemic, didactic, erotic, lyrical/personal etc. For example, the
sonnet form is used when the poem's message has something to do with love. The
ballad form is generally adopted for a narrative form.
The form of a poem is closely connected to its structure; that is, the arrangement of
lines and stanzas. Become familiar with the different poem structures and use that to
decide what form the poet has chosen.
What is the Subject Matter of the Poem?
The poet is trying to say something through his poem. S/he chooses the speaker,
setting and form to convey the theme or central idea. There are no limits to the
subjects poets choose to write about: it could be about events, actions, thoughts,
memories, arguments, polemic, and so on.

How Does the Imagery Contribute to the Poem's Meaning?


Figurative language and imagery are a part of everyday speech, but they are often
highlighted and emphasised in poetry. Words are not confined to their literal
meanings and are used to create sensory associations, be they visual and aural.
They are also a source of connotations that they have accumulated as their
meanings have altered. Imagery is used to discuss one thing through an indirect
reference to something else, and can add multiple layers of meaning to a poem.
What is the Tone of the Poem?
The tone of the poem expresses the attitude of the speaker towards the subject
matter, and is closely linked to the feeling and mood that informs the poem. The tone
is not static and may alter as the poem develops and more ideas are introduced.
Understanding the tone of a poem is an integral component in comprehending its
overall message. Factors such as diction, rhythm, speaker, setting and imagery can
inform the tone of the poem.
What is the Message of the Poem?
The things that happen in the poem - the actions, scenes or events - constitute the
subject matter, but the theme is portrayed through the central message of the poem.
It can be rather abstract and is a marriage of subject matter, speaker, setting,
imagery and tone. In order to glean fully what the poem is trying to say, you must
understand all the components that make up the poem.