2 TitleExamine the LITERAL meaning of the title before reading the poem.There are two kinds of titles.Interactive Titles – have some sort of interplay with the poem itself and can affect its meaning.Naming Titles – may give less crucial informationIf a poem lacks a title you can do this step with the first line of the poemDoes the title give any clues as to what the poem may be about?Explain what the title may mean or what it tells you about the poem that you are about to read.
3 Paraphrase Translate the poem line by line into your own words. AND I MEAN TRANSLATE…WORD FOR WORD!!!Find SYNONYMS for every word.Resist jumping into interpretation; you are looking at LITERAL meaning.Summarizing is NOT paraphrasing
4 ConnotationExamine the poem for meaning beyond the literal translation. Identify and figure out the figurative language.Look for:Diction: word choiceImagery: word pictures (5 senses)Figures of Speech: metaphor, simile, personification, allusion, etc.Musical Devices: alliteration, onomatopoeia, rhythm, rhyme scheme, etc.Irony: surprising, interesting, or amusing contradictionsSymbolism: word, phrase, or other object that stands for something else
5 AttitudeAfter identifying a subject/topic of a poem then you identify how the speaker or poet feels about it.Tone-- look for the speaker’s tone and the author’s tone. What are his or her attitudes toward the audience and his or her subject matter?
6 Shifts Note transitions/shifts in the speaker or attitude Occasion: time and placeKey words: “but,” “yet,” etc.Punctuation: dashes, periods, colonsStanza length/change in foot: notice when the poem seems to speed up or slow downAlso look for shifts in subject, attitude, mood, and motif.
7 Title Look at the title on an INTERPRETIVE level. Examine the title again. Figure out how the title illuminates the poem. Remember a naming title may not mean much. Remember you can do this with the first line of a poem if it lacks a title.
8 ThemeFirst list what the poem is about (subjects) then determine what the poet is saying about each of these subjects.Express the theme as a complete sentence.With this step, you are determining what the poet thinks about the subject, what insight or message about life is the poet revealing to the reader.