2 Close Reading of Poetry There is no single way to do a close reading of a poem. Sometimes an impression is a way in; sometimes the “voice” in the poem stands out; sometimes it is a matter of knowing the genre of the poem; sometimes groupings of key words, phrases, or images seem to be its most striking elements; and sometimes it takes a while to get any impression whatsoever. The goal, however, is constant: you want to come to a deeper understanding of the poem. There are, nonetheless, steps you can take toward this goal—the first being, obviously, to read the poem very carefully—as well as specific elements you can look for and questions you can ask.
3 Remember: A poem is a concise verbal snapshot of a poet’s thoughts Poems work through the images they paint, the sounds they create, and the ideas they communicateHOW MANY TIMES SHOULD I READ A POEM? More than once, in order to hear the sounds and rhythms and to visualize the words Try to share the poet’s feelings and perceptions. Then ask yourself, “what does this poem say to me?”
4 Elements of a PoemThe music of poetry: Its Sounds Poetry needs to be read aloud to listen for words that rhyme and for rhythms that you can tap your fingers to, like music
5 The Images of Poetry: Its Pictures Let the poet’s words paint pictures in your mindPoets use sensory images to appeal to sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch
6 The Structure of Poetry: Its Shape Pay attention to how the poet has places the words on the pagePoets may repeat lines or words to emphasize important ideas
7 How to Read a PoemConversation with the poet: listening to what the poet is sayingGet involved in poetry reading! Ask questions about the poem Make comments Express your feelings
8 Before Reading:Find out how long it is and how many stanzas the poem containsStanza: an arrangement of a certain number of lines, usually four or more, sometimes having a fixed length, meter, or rhyme scheme, forming a division of a poem.Shape of the poem
9 Getting to Know the Poem Read it once: don’t think too much about what it means the first timePay attention to the punctuation (commas, periods)Listen to the sound of the wordsRead the poem slowly, this time thinking about what it could meanVisualize the words
10 Getting Into the Poem Look out for the poetic devices! List things that catch your attention repetitions comparisons rhymes images soundsListen to the tone of voice in the poem may express an emotion or an attitude. Is it serious, angry, happy?
11 You Are Reading This Too Fast By: Ken Norris Slow down, for this is poetryand poetry works slowly.Unless you live with it a whilethe spirit will never descend.It’s so easy to quietly cut across the surfaceand then claim there was nothing to find.Touch the poem gently with your eyesjust as you would touch a lover’s flesh.Poetry is an exercise in patience,you must wait for it to come to you.The spirit manifests in many guises:some quiver with beauty.Some vibrate with song.What is happening?Slow down, slow down,take a few deep breaths,read the poem slowly.read the lines one at a time.read the words one by one.read the spaces between the words.get sleepy, this is poetry.relax until your heartis vulnerable, wide open.
12 A Poison Tree By: William Blake I was angry with my friend; I told my wrath, my wrath did end.I was angry with my foe: I told it not, my wrath did grow. And I waterd it in fears,Night & morning with my tears: And I sunned it with smiles,And with soft deceitful wiles. And it grew both day and night. Till it bore an apple bright. And my foe beheld it shine,And he knew that it was mine. And into my garden stole, When the night had veild the pole; In the morning glad I see; My foe outstretched beneath the tree.
13 Practice Close Reading Little BoxesStopping by the Woods on a Snowy EveningMy Father Hurt