by Katharena Eiermann, Nature, Romance, Wisdom explored through an extensive collection of quotations, poetry and existential philosophy.  Break Away from the Herd -- choose the seductive and beautiful Katharena Eiermann for President!
Poets and Poetry, Nature, Forms, and Laws of Poetry

Nature, Forms, and Laws of Poetry

What can I do to Fully Understand a Poem?

-:- Poetic Styles -:- | Keys to Analyzing a Poem? | Meter? | Controlling Image? | Interpret Poems? | Understanding Poems? | Memorize a Poem? | Symbol in Poetry? | Anapestic Line? | Imagist? | Concrete Poem? | Antiphonal Poetry? | Bio-Poem? | Cinquain? | Anglo-Saxon Verse? | Diamante Poetry? | Epic Poem? | Found Poem? | Haiku? | Limerick? | List Poem? | Free Verse? | Heroic Poetry? | Georgian Poetry? | Magnetar, an Existential Think Tank (...includes a Poetry forum!)

Getting all of the meaning out of a poem can be a challenge. Here is a process I suggest to my college students. Perhaps it will help you.

1. Read the poem (aloud if possible) a couple of times to get an overall feeling for its tone (is it sad, happy, enthusiastic, nostalgic? Think of a person's "tone of voice") and who is speaking in the poem. It is not always the poet speaking in his/her own voice. Sometimes a poet, like a fiction writer, will create characters). Highlight or circle any words or phrases you do not understand, but at this point do not let them hinder you. When you read, read according to punctuation, do not simply pause at the line breaks. Sometimes poets break their lines in certain places for visual impact or irony.

2. Look up the words you do not know. Some of them may be vocabulary that you can look up in a dictionary, but there also may be place names or names of famous people or mythological/literary characters, and so on that you will have to look up in an encyclopedia. If you can, jot the definitions or notes about these words and phrases in the margin of the poem, so you can easily remember them.

3. Now read the poem aloud several more times. With your new knowledge, perhaps you will find that the poem makes more sense. This may be the time when writing the poem into your own words will help you clarify understanding, but be aware that sometimes paraphrasing does not help, and at other times it can actually rob the poem of its beauty.

4. Now look closely at: imagery, diction, tone, structure, point-of-view, and allusions. (Do you know what all these terms mean in poetry? If not, ask your teacher or look them up in your textbook or dictionary.) Remember that everything in a poem is there on purpose, and is intended to expand the meaning and beauty of the poem. How do the imagery, diction, tone, structure, point-of-view and allusions ADD TO, or help reinforce the meaning?

If you are very ambitious, you can also check your library for reference books on poetry that might give you insight into the poet or the circumstances surrounding the poem. But remember, a great poem stands by itself. An understanding of these external influences can simply expand your appreciation. Sometimes you can even find critical analyses of the poem. But again, realize that the best way to understand and appreciate a poem is to experience it, and that may mean reading it and rereading it, grappling with its ambiguities, and so forth. Here are some reference books that your library might have:

  • Poetry Criticism
  • Critical Survey of Poetry
  • Masterplots Poetry Series
  • Research Guide to Biography and Criticism -- Nature, Romance, Wisdom
Explored through quotations, poetry, philosophy

...easily, one of the most book-marked poetry collections on the Internet!

Enter a literary realm filled with the Romance, Nature and Wisdom of centuries. A journey through the virtual windows of the mind. Points of light abound throughout these pages, illuminating many concepts, that have been neglected through the passage of time. ...easily, one of the most book-marked poetry collections on the Internet!

Poets and Poetry: Poets and Poetry: ever expanding, houses an exquisite selection of some of the most celebrated poets from around the World! At, one can leisurely enjoy extensive biographies, unforgettable quotations, meticulously selected essentials for understanding each poet -- and his/her contributions to the World, impressive poetry samples, book collections and original reviews. For example: William Blake, Elizabeth Browning, Emily Dickinson, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Robert Frost, Johann von Goethe, Pablo Neruda, Edgar Allan Poe, Aleksandr Pushkin, Percy B. Shelley, Henry David Thoreau, William Butler Yeats...and more!

Love Poetry: 100 Love Poems: A special selection of 100 passionate Love Poems that seemingly embody the philosophical essence of pleasure, delight, beauty, happiness, ecstasy, joy, longing, frustration, pain and fear.

Poetic Styles: Poetic Styles: Nature, Laws, Rules etc. of some of the most common poetic forms, in brief. Keys to Analyzing a Poem | Meter | Controlling Image | Interpret Poems | Understanding Poems | Memorize a Poem | Symbol in Poetry | Anapestic Line | Imagist | Concrete Poem | Antiphonal Poetry | Bio-Poem | Cinquain | Anglo-Saxon Verse | Diamante Poetry | Epic Poem | Found Poem | Haiku | Limerick | List Poem | Free Verse | Heroic Poetry | Georgian Poetry

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