We encounter the poem analysis for the first time at school, and often the first steps are not so simple and certainly present a challenge. After all, we have to examine not only a few formalities, but poem on elements such as stylistic means, rhyme schema and, of course, analyze the measure.
This is difficult to the extent that all of the areas mentioned naturally contain a lot of things which we have to memorize or at least understand fundamentally in order to be able to analyze a poem independently and then to interpret it (→ poem interpretation).
However, we should have a little bit of fun for a well-founded poem analysis, because apart from the pure analysis, we have to interpret the respective poem naturally, to discuss and to read a bit between the individual lines (verses) of the text.
Note: On this page, we would like to show you how such a poetic analysis is constructed, what things should be observed, and how to write and formulate the analysis best. We will then look at the most common sources of error.
What is a poem analysis?
The word analysis comes from the Greek and means approximately dissolution. An object (in this case a poem) is divided into its individual components and subsequently systematically examined. The individual elements of the object (poem) are then sorted, ordered and evaluated in some form.
In principle one could also compare this step with all other sciences, such as science. For here, too, an object is decomposed into the individual elements (analysis) in order to understand it or interpret it.
Now the poem analysis is not limited to making a single piece of work but also includes the interpretation of the poem. This means that the later interpretation of a poem is always a part of the poetic analysis itself. In this interpretation, we try to give the results of our analysis a meaning.
Conclusion: A poem analysis is thus the decomposition of a poem into individual parts (stanzas, verses or even syllables). We attribute to these elements a function which we show on the basis of our observations (rhyme, stylistic, and measure). We then interpret our findings of the analysis and form a poem interpretation from them.
Prepare the poem analysis
Since we now know what the poem analysis is about, we could now start the work. However, it is advisable to make some preparations for the analysis in order to really find all the details in the corresponding work and to be able to analyze them safely.
Obtain the appropriate work material. Usually, we have a pencil, a ruler, and colored text markers to highlight eye-catching passages in the poem. Also a duden can be helpful.
Read the poem at the beginning very carefully. Usually, we look at the work several times and try to understand the individual verses exactly. What could be meant by a wording and what is it all about?
In doing so, we can write down ambiguities at the margin of the individual verses and also try to relate the individual elements in a context.
Do the verses and verses have something to do with each other and how do they relate to each other? Is it the same topic in some verses? Unclear words should we look up in the Duden!
Also try to sort the poem in time. In which literary epoch is it settled and what are the typical characteristics of this period? Can these be found in the poem and can we learn something about the meaning?
In addition, we should try to put the individual words in a context and interpret them for ourselves.
There is no right or wrong. Because if we use our poem analysis to prove something, our interpretation can also differ from the opinion of other people. What is important is that we create a coherent overall picture.
Important! We should note down all the conspicuousnesses and underline them. In no case simply start, but rather read the text so often until the structure and the content is clear. Otherwise, an interpretation can quickly backfire.
Note: At school, it is sometimes asked that we also take into account the life of the author in the analysis and whether we can establish a connection in the poem.
This is, however, avoided in the literary sciences because a work should stand for itself. It depends mainly on our approach, whether the life of the author should play a role.
Structure of poem analysis
The structure of the poetic analysis follows a very strict scheme and is generally always the same. Of course we can exchange individual elements and sub-items, but basically we stick to the given pattern when writing a poem analysis.
Introduction of poem analysis
Title of the poem
Name of author
Year of appearance if stated
Poem style (sonnet, ode, haiku, etc.)
The theme of the poem (nature poem, love poetry, etc.)
temporal classification (→ Literaturepochen)
Short description of the content (→ write content)
Intention of the poem (→ interpretation hypothesis)
Main part of poetic analysis
Theme of the poem
What does the poem describe (season, experience or a time?)
Context between title and poem
The lyric self. Who speaks in the poem and how does one recognize this?
Verses and verses
Reimschema (pair rhymes, cross rhymes, etc.)
Measure (metrum). Is there any verse at all?
What are the final syllables in the poem? (→ cadence)
Conspicuities in the language (many adjectives, only nouns, vowels, etc.)
How does the lyric self speak (happy, sad?)
What style and rhymes are used?
Sentence construction (Hypotaxes, Parataxen?)
Time form (present, preterite, future)
Poetry interpretation (→ poem interpretation)
What are the results of our analysis?
What is the reason for this?
What mood and feelings are caused by language?
What is the context and function?
… and what do they mean?
Conclusion of poem analysis
What does the work want? (Intention)
Was our initial assumption confirmed?
Are there still open questions which the poem does not answer?
What is our opinion (only if a teacher expressly requires it!)
Notes on the structure of the poem analysis
It is important, above all, to establish a connection between the individual elements and not to work stubbornly on the given pattern or to list individual stylistic features and features. We must try to form a unity between analysis and interpretation, which means that all the abnormalities in the poetic analysis have to be functionalized.
The described structure gives us a pattern, which we can simply work off. This is always useful when we do not have access to a work. Nevertheless, there are many sources of error when we analyze a poem strictly according to the given structure.
This also means that we can not always stick to the rigid structure of the analysis. The construction is only a guide for poetic analysis, no dogma!
Error sources in poem analysis
False: The form and contents are often not related to each other. Following the description of the construction, only the reproduction of the contents follows.
Correct: The form and content of a poem must always be related to each other during the analysis. In most of the works, they even determine each other.
False: content conclusions are often drawn too quickly. We have an opinion and do our utmost to interpret it in the poem.
Correct: Usually we read a poem several times and then analyze its structure, in order to allow us a well-founded opinion in the poem analysis.
False: Frequently there is hardly a subdivision in the respective poem analysis. This means that the individual sections of the mold are not visibly separated from each other.
Correct: It does not necessarily have to be intersections in the poem analysis. Nevertheless, a clear structure is important and meaning sections which we can separate by means of paragraphs.
False: claims are often simply made in the work, without being able to occupy them exactly at the text or at all.
Correct: Any interpretation or assertion we make must be fully justified, not because we want it, but a correspondence in the poem itself.
Concluding Words on Poetic Analysis
Admittedly, some poems are really hard chunks and can not be captured in minutes. But they are sometimes not at all, which is why we make them at all the subject of poetic analysis.
Therefore, it is important to simply begin with the preliminary work (reading and understanding) and to pierce the poem so frequently until you have really understood it. In doing so, always pay attention to the fact that we are recording all characteristics and conspicuities so that we can interpret and use them later in the poem analysis.
And even when we write an exam or written exam and are faced with a time pressure, it makes no sense to simply write thoughtlessly.
It is better to take your time, and then do an analysis or interpretation, once we have grasped all the essential things. Have lots of fun with it!