Analysing poetry
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Analysing Poetry. The Basics. Aspects for Analysis. SCASI- still a basic tool for both poetry and prose Time- for poetry, this is an important aspect of setting Narrator- as part of character, narrator plays an important role in poetry Action- consider the changing flow of ideas in the poem.

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Analysing Poetry

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Analysing poetry

Analysing Poetry

The Basics

Aspects for analysis

Aspects for Analysis

  • SCASI- still a basic tool for both poetry and prose

  • Time- for poetry, this is an important aspect of setting

  • Narrator- as part of character, narrator plays an important role in poetry

  • Action- consider the changing flow of ideas in the poem

Aspects of style

Aspects of Style

  • Structure- type of poem, structure of both poem and ideas

  • Elements that support structure- caesura, enjambment, end stop, volce face

  • Imagery- look for and discuss patterns of imagery (how do they support thematic ideas? Consider senses)

  • Language- punctuation, syntax, level of formality, diction

  • Figurative Language

Style rhythm

Style: Rhythm

  • Rhythm refers to the “movement” of the poem, and is created through meter and stress patterns.



Syllable Stress: natural rhythms of language we use automatically. Poets use these natural stresses in their overall rhythmic effect

Emphatic Stress: deliberate emphasis on a word or part of a word for effect. The stress emphasizes meaning, or can change it.

Phrasing and Punctuation also influence rhythm (word order, length of phrases, punctuation and line breaks, and repetition, as examples)



Poetic metre is the pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables in a line of poetry.

Variations in pattern can mark changes in mood or tone, or signify change of direction in the movement of the poem.

Main patterns of feet

Main patterns of feet

Syllables can be divided into groups of two or three.

Each group is called a foot.

The number of feet in a line can vary.

5 basic patterns of stress

5 Basic Patterns of Stress

Iambic: one unstressed syllable followed by a stressed one. (Shakespeare)

Trochaic: one stressed syllable followed by an unstressed one.

e.g. Tyger! Tyger! Burning Bright

In the forests of the night


Stress patterns continued

Stress Patterns continued

Dactylic: one stressed syllable followed by two unstressed syllables.

Half a league, Half a league,

Half a league, onward


Anapaestic: two unstressed syllables followed by one stressed syllable.

Will’s at the dance in the Club-room below,

Where the tall liquor cups foam;


Stress patterns continued1

Stress Patterns Continued

Spondaic: two stressed syllables.

e.g. One, two

Buckle my shoe.

When i have fears by john keats

When I have fears by John Keats

When I have fears that I may cease to be

Before my pen hath glean’d my teeming brain

Before high-piled books, in charact’ry

Hold like rich garners the full-ripen’d grain:

When I behold, upon the night’s starr’d face,

Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance,

And think that I may never live to trace

Their shadows, with the magic hand of chance

And when I feel, fair creature of an hour!

That I shall never look upon thee more,

Never have relish in the faery power

Of unreflecting love! – then on the shore

Of the wide world I stand alone, and think

Till love and fame to nothingness do sink.

Style rhyme

Style: Rhyme

Rhyme can contribute to the musical quality of a poem. It affects sound and overall effectiveness.

The rhyme scheme can

  • unify and draw a poem together

  • Give in an incantatory quality

  • Add emphasis to particular elements of vocabulary



Internal rhymes: rhymes that occur within a line of poetry.

e.g. The fair breeze blew, the white foam flew,

The furrow followed free;

We were the first that ever burst

Into that silent sea




Sight Rhymes: (or eye rhymes) are lines that look similar but are incomplete or inaccurate.

e.g. “love” and “move” or “plough” and “rough”



Poets may choose to use these to deliberately weaken the force of the rhyme by making either the consonant or vowel different


Like twitching agonies of men among its brambles

Northward, incessantly, the flickering gunnery rumbles

-Wilfred Owen

These are called half rhyme, slant rhyme or para-rhyme

Analysing rhyme

Analysing Rhyme

  • The important thing is not spotting the rhymes or rhyme scheme, but rather identifying the effect of the rhyme scheme on the poem.

  • You need to explain WHY the poet has chosen to use language this way.

Possible effects of rhyme

Possible Effects of Rhyme

  • Make a poem sound musical and pleasing to the ear

  • Create a jarring, discordant effect

  • Add emphasis to certain words and give particular words added prominence

  • Act as a unifying influence on the poem, drawing it together through rhyme patterns

Possible effects of rhyme cont d

Possible Effects of Rhyme cont’d

  • Give the poem a rhythmic, incantatory or ritualistic feel.

  • It can influence the rhythm of the verse

  • It can provide a sense of finality (e.g. a rhyming couplet for a sense of “ending”)

  • It can exert a subconscious effect, drawing together certain words or images, affecting sound, or adding emphasis in some way

Mean time by carol ann duffy

The clocks slid back an hour

And stole light from my life

As I walked through the wrong part of town,

Mourning our love.

And, of course, unmendable rain

Fell to the bleak streets

Where I felt my heart gnaw

At all our mistakes

If the darkening sky could lift

more than one hour from this day

there are words I would never have said

nor have heard you say.

But we will be dead, as we know,

beyond all light.

these are the shortened days

and the endless nights.

Mean Time by Carol Ann Duffy

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