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Analyzing Poems????
Posted by: Amber824 (97.89.7.---)
Date: April 06, 2009 02:38AM

I have been out of school sometime now and I just now got into college...this is my 2nd quarter and I am taking ENG 193...first day of class was last week and my first assignment is due this week. My teacher didn't really go through exactly what she is looking for so I'm hoping maybe someone here can point me in the correct direction and help me with this assignment.

I have to pick 2 poems out of my literature book and analyze them. I have to write at least a 250 word analysis for each poem.
I read online what to look for in analyzing a poem but I am not sure on how to start or finish analyzing a poem.

Can someone show me an example of a small poem that has been analyzed? I just want an idea of what I should write down and what my teacher is expecting.

Here's the poem I'm thinking about analyzing, not sure yet though..

Titanic by David R. Slavitt

Who does not love the Titanic?
If they sold passage tomorrow for that same crossing,
who would not buy?

To go down...We all go down, mostly
alone. But with crowds of people, friends, servants,
well fed, with music, with lights!Ah!

And the world, shocked, mourns, as it ought to do
and almost never does. There will be the books and movies
to remind our grandchildren who we were
and how we died, and give them a good cry.

Not so bad, after all. The cold
water is anesthetic and very quick.
The cries on all sides must be a comfort.

We all go: only a few, first class.

Re: Analyzing Poems????
Posted by: IanAKB (124.168.44.---)
Date: April 07, 2009 10:52AM

Amber, as you have probably discovered through your Internet research on analyzing a poem, there's no fixed definition of what consitutes such analysis.

It can range all the way from (at lowest level) nothing but pedestrian listing of obvious attributes, such as pointing out whether the stanzas have any recognised sructure, and whether there is any rhyme scheme, and whether the lines have any regular metre or rhythm; to (at a medium level) identifying and commenting on the effectiveness of any literary devices in the poem, such as simile, metaphor, alliteration, assonance, point of view, personification; or to (at the highest level) an appreciation of the poet's presumed intention and theme, and an assessment of how well that has been implemented, and whether the poem has special qualities that make it memorable and distinguish it from other poems on the same subject.

I really don't know what style of analysis your teacher expects, and what points he/she wants you to cover. Now that you are in college, I suspect your teacher expects you to create your own style, so long as you do it well.

You have asked specifically about starting and finishing an analysis. If you can, I suggest you lead off with a statement reflecting or encapsulating the main theme or point in your analysis. Then, if you can, finish with a statement that reflects or restates that theme or point, with any modification necessitated by the intermediate commentary.


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/07/2009 10:54AM by IanAKB.

Re: Analyzing Poems????
Posted by: IanAKB (124.168.44.---)
Date: April 07, 2009 11:27PM

Slavitt's poem satirises the vanity of those who prize glamour and attention-getting and fame above all else. We all have to die, he says ("we all go down"). But to do it accompanied by servants and lights and music, as a victim of the spectacular and famous Titanic sinking of 1912 - what a way to go! We'd all choose that great way if offered, he asserts.

I suppose dying by leaping from the blazing twin towers on 9/11 might be written about in a similar fashion - in 90 years time. It takes a century or so or for such horrible events to acquire a romantic patina.

Interesting to contrast the philanthropic philosophy about dying expressed by a character in a well-known poem that couldn't be more different, Macaulay's 'Horatius at the Bridge':

Then out spake brave Horatius,
The captain of the Gate
"To every man upon this earth
Death cometh soon or late;
And how can man die better
than facing fearful odds
for the ashes of his fathers
and the temples of his gods?"

Horatius achieved fame, but that wasn't his motive. He was prepared to die if need be, to save Rome from invasion.

Incidentally, Slavitt's statement that cold water is "very quick" may be true compared to some alternatives, but I donít imagine that that comparison comforted those who froze in the sea after the Titanic went down.

A most implausible episode in the recent Titanic film had the character played by di Caprio wading and diving for a considerable time in the seawater that had flooded into the ship, without shivering or showing any appearance of being affected by cold. In reality. that water would have been just as freezing as the open sea where it came from!

Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 04/24/2009 09:11AM by IanAKB.

Re: Analyzing Poems????
Posted by: jd3m3 (203.87.178.---)
Date: February 07, 2011 10:58PM

You will have to read a poem multiple times before even attempting to approach it for deeper meanings. Give yourself a chance to thoroughly and fully experience the poem.

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Re: Analyzing Poems????
Posted by: ssupreme11 (110.38.34.---)
Date: September 19, 2011 06:47PM

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