How to Read a Poem:

1. Who is the speaker in this poem? What kind of person is he/she?

2. To whom is he/she speaking? In other words, describe the speaker's audience.

3. What is the situation and setting in time (era) and place?

4. What is the purpose of the poem?

5. State the poem's centralidea or theme in a single sentence.

6. Indicate and explain (if you can) an allusions. Do the allusions share a common idea?

7. Describe the structure of the poem. What is its meter and form? (Scan it.)

8. How do the structure of the poem and its content relate?

9. What is the tone of the poem? How is it achieved?

10. Notice the poem's diction. Discuss any words which seem especially "well chosen".

11. Are there any predominate images in the poem?

12. Note metaphors, similes, and personification. Discuss their effect.

13. Recognize and discuss examples of paradox, overstatement (hyperbole), and understatement (litotes).

14. Explain any symbols. Is the poem allegorical?

15. Explain the significance of any sound repetition (alliteration, assonance, consonance, etc.)

16. Discuss whether or not you think the poem is successful.

Figurative Language PowerPoint



Walt Whitman Voice Recording of "America"