How do I do a close reading of a poem?

Relevant for both GCSE and A Level: Every student will have a different way of doing a close reading of a poem. What is important is that a student finds a style with which they are comfortable and confident with and can replicate under exam conditions. The aim of a close reading is to present a deeper analysis of the poem, so there are some key steps, whatever your style is, that a student must follow in order to write a clear, cogent and close analysis of a poem. Firstly, it is essential to read the poem carefully. Then read it again. Read it whilst keeping in mind key terms such as ‘voice’, ‘form’, ‘register’, ‘rhetoric’, ‘genre’ etc and make a note of or highlight what stands out to you. Knowing your key literary terms is essential for a good close analysis. Especially in poetry, word placement (syntax) is often used to emphasise a word or phrase, so consider what message the poet is trying to relay. Gaining an understanding of the general message of a poem can help before delving into close analysis. Remember that no close analysis will aim to cover everything; that’s neither possible nor desirable! Choose a few key points and really focus on them. Although close analysis can be tricky, a little bit of practice with breaking down poems line by line can help to make it an easier process.

Illustration of a video tutorial

Need help with English Literature?

One to one online tuition can be a great way to brush up on your English Literature knowledge.

Have a Free Meeting with one of our hand picked tutors from the UK’s top universities

Find a tutor

Related English Literature A Level answers

All answers ▸

How do I use different interpretations in my essays (AO5)?

How do you write an essay on Shakespeare?

How to I use critics in my essays?

How do I start my answer?

We're here to help

contact us iconContact usWhatsapp logoMessage us on Whatsapptelephone icon+44 (0) 203 773 6020
Facebook logoInstagram logoLinkedIn logo

© MyTutorWeb Ltd 2013–2022

Terms & Conditions|Privacy Policy