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The Poetry Analysis Essay

July 20, 2015 - Posted to How to: Essay writing tips
The Poetry Analysis Essay

The Poetry Analysis Essay

Study of poetry is a “given” in any literature class, and it also pops up in English comp classes when students are asked to write analysis essays. Instructors may choose pieces of writing, often poetry, to be analyzed. Other essays, usually found in literature classes, might include a poetry explication essay or, more commonly, a poetry essay that involves analysis of a specific piece. Or, perhaps you will be asked to write a definition “What is Poetry” essay. For your content, you will have to do a bit of research and discover how others define poetry and attempt to combine the thoughts of many experts as you come up with your own definition. Let’s take a look at the two common types of poetry essays you are likely to encounter.

How to Write a Poetry Analysis Essay

First of all, you have to understand what analysis is in regards to poetry. Remember, a poem is a brief portrayal of an idea, feeling, or experience in a brief piece (except for poetic drama or epics). In that piece, the poet will appeal to the reader’s senses, imagination or emotions, in the portrayal of that theme.

Your job when you are given a poetry analysis essay assignment, is first to discover the theme – love, death, grief, joy, war, peace, revenge, etc. Then you must determine what specifically the poet is saying about that theme and how s/he chooses to make those statements. For example, the theme of Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven is death – actually, the death of a young woman he adored. Let’s look at what Poe had to say about death.

First, the raven represents death – that is quite clear. Death comes without much warning, rather softly actually, but its impact is forever. And the continual word, “Nevermore” speaks to so many things. He will never see his love again; he will never get over his loss; and the grief will be with him always.

As you can see, poetry analysis essays really deal more with the theme and its development, the symbolism, and the plot, if there is one.

How to Write a Poetry Explication Essay

While the analysis essay is more general in nature, the explicative essay on poetry focuses more on the detail of the writing itself. What techniques does the poet use to create a mood, to appeal to one’s senses, imagination, or feelings? What rhyme and meter scheme is used? What figurative language is used (metaphor, personification, alliteration, etc.)? Often in this essay, you will need to go through almost line by line to identify the techniques and to give examples of them from the text.

If we look at The Raven once again, the mood is established immediately. It is the dark of night; Poe is alone reading, without pleasure, but merely to pass the time. His use of repetition is obvious – the word “nevermore” adds to the gloominess of the scene as well as to his continuing grief. His soul also takes on life – it grows and it floats on the floor. These are the types of things than an explicative essay will include.

A majority of students do not love poetry, and yet there will be at least some reading and analysis of it in a couple of courses. If a poetry analysis essay is just not something you want to tackle, can take that burden from you!

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