- State what you believe to be the main idea or ideas of the poem, approaching it stanza by stanza.
- Note the key words or phrases repeated throughout the poem.
- Think about why the stanzas/lines are structured in a particular way.
- Explore the relationships throughout the poem.
- See if there are any recurring themes in the poem, and elicit what the poet is trying to say by writing about these.
- Who is the speaker in the poem? Is it the poet, or is it the poet taking on another voice?
- Who is the poet speaking to? Is it him/herself, is it a particular person, or is it the reader?
- What can we tell about the poet from studying the poem.
Tone: What is the poem's tone (sad, happy, reflective, morose, philosophical, etc.)
Rhythm: Is there a musical quality to the poem, does it rhyme, does it follow a particular rhythm or is the rhythm fragmented?
Techniques: Does the poet use writing techniques to enhance the language, e.g., alliteration (the repetition of consonants) and assonance (the repetition of vowels).
Imagery: What imagery does the poem use and how does it shape your meaning of the poem.
Symbolism: Does the poet use symbolism to illustrate his/her views and is it effective.
Words: These are the essence of a poem, and it is important you're aware of key words and expressions and how they form your understanding and appreciation of the poem.
Grammar and punctuation: Poets differ in how they express themselves. Sometimes words are not enough in themselves and poets might use unorthodox grammar or different punctuation to get their points across. Be aware of this.
Sound: Read the poem a couple of times over, listening to the sounds. Depending on the sound, a poem can be sensual, or sad, or maybe angry, or happy. See what emotions the poem has on you through listening to it.