Argument essay | jhgjh | Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges

The following questions will help you as you begin your study of a poem. (You might also be given or invent questions specific to a particular poem.) Answering the questions should provide useful information and a set of notes that will help you not only discuss the poem in class but write a paper about it. 1. What is your personal response to the poem when you first read it, when you read it later, when you hear it read? Is there any specific image, line, word, sound, or section of the poem that particularly strikes you, even if you can’t say why at this time? Does the poem remind you of anything in your own life? 2. What is in fact happening in the poem? Is there a story, a scene, a picture? Don’t worry about the theme or the symbolism of the poem until you notice what is straightforwardly and literally happening in the poem. 3. Is there a persona or speaker/character in the poem? Who is he or she? What specific clues are there in the poem that tell you what he or she is like? Even if the speaker of the poem simply seems to be the poet, characterize what you come to know about that voice. 4. Describe the world of the poem, the “setting,” both physical and social. 5. What is the relation or tension between speaker and world in the poem? Is it comfortable or uncomfortable? Does any change take place? 6. Experience the images in the poem, which are based on the senses of sight, sound, taste, touch, smell, and movement. List the images. Are there a number of discrete images or one extended image? Do the images form a pattern? Image and sound are the heart of poetry. Detailed work on this question on imagery and the one on sound that follows will provide you with solid evidence for your interpretation of the poem. 7. Pay attention to the sound of the poem. Read it out loud. If you can find a recording of the poet reading his or her poem, listen to that. Notice patterns of rhyme, rhythm, and repetition, for example, in repeated use of certain vowels or consonants. List any patterns you find. 8. How does the title comment on or extend the poem? Also notice any additional material, such as an epigraph or footnotes. Why are they there? 9. Pay attention to the beginning and the ending of the poem. Why does the poet begin here?Why end there?10. What is the mood or tone of the poem? What do you think creates that mood or tone—the images, the sounds, the speaker’s attitude? What emotions does the poem cause you to feel? 11. Finally, what does the poem “mean?” Notice that this is not the first questions to ask about a poem but almost the last, though if you are writing an explication or other type of essay on the poem, you might find the introduction to your paper beginning here, your thesis or interpretation of the poem being supported by the evidence you have gathered answering the previous ten questions. 12. You could now locate this poem—in relation to other poems by the same poet, to other poems written in the same historical period/place, and to historical issues and/or events contemporary with the poem

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