There are tons of tools to use in analyzing a poem, but the three simplest to begin with are these three:

  • Scan the lines. Scanning (or scansion) is when you map out a line of poetry to figure out the meter. For example, this is scanning:

    | i WANT| to GO | to REST | au RANT | this EVE |

  • Identify the form. When examining a poem to identify its form, you'll want to be aware of some of the common forms of poetry and the types of content with which they have become associated. The Poetry Handbook is an excellent resource for this type of stuff. Common forms include couplets, quatrains, and sonnets.

  • Examine the diction. This is the word choice that the poet uses, as well as how the lines are broken up. Look for similes, metaphors, and irony.

SoYouWanna know more? Check out our full-length article SYW interpret a poem?