Writing an analytical essay about a poem is a challenging exercise in making a coherent, text-based argument that strengthens your reasoning and arguing skills. It also helps you to comprehend poetry more completely, thus enjoying it more. A good analytical essay reveals the deeper meanings of the poem and how they function in the reality of the text. The more original your ideas, however, the better you must defend every argument that you make with evidence from the text.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Challenging
Other People Are Reading
Read the poem out loud several times. Pay attention to the rhyme and meter. Underline any lines or words that you find part of the overall theme or literary devices such as similes and metaphors.
Research the poem. Find out if it was written with a significant historical context. For example, Walt Whitman's poem "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloomed," was an elegy for Lincoln reacting to post-civil war tendencies in America.
Create your thesis on any aspect of the poem: the theme, cultural context, versification, imagery or anything else.
Start your introduction by writing about the general idea of your thesis. For example, if your thesis is: "'The Waste Land' by T.S. Eliot is a meditation on loneliness as the human condition," start by writing about the manifestation of loneliness in art. State your thesis in the last sentence of this introductory paragraph, along with the title and author of the poem.
Write down three to four examples that support your thesis on a separate sheet of paper. This textual evidence should use the poem's versification, theme or literary devices.
Write two to three supporting paragraphs that defend your thesis using the examples you wrote in Step 5. Explain fully how the versification, themes or literary devices all work towards proving your thesis.
Restate your thesis in a new way at the beginning of your concluding paragraph. For example, for the thesis: "'The Waste Land' is a meditation on loneliness as the human condition," you would write: "In conclusion, T.S. Eliot's 'The Waste Land' contemplates the isolation of human existence through verse."
Tips and warnings
- Use the present tense when writing about a poem as opposed to the past tense, which is what you would use when writing about a novel.
- 20 of the funniest online reviews ever
- 14 Biggest lies people tell in online dating sites
- Hilarious things Google thinks you're trying to search for