How do I do a close reading of a poem?

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In order to close read a poem, I would recommend reading the poem over a few times, and to start with highlighting anything that stands out to you. This could include alliteration, capitalisation of words, unusual punctuation and similes or metaphors; making notes around the edge of the page can be useful when doing this, and will help you with a consideration of themes. With poetry, word placement at the beginning or end of a sentence is often used to emphasise a word, so consider what the poet is trying to draw your attention to. A good way to approach a tricky poem is to ask yourself how it makes you feel. Is it a sad or a happy poem, or is it a bit of both? Once you get the general gist of a poem, you can start considering things such as the rhyme scheme, as this is just as important as the content. If the poem has an irregular rhyme scheme (having rhymes but not in an obvious pattern), it might mean that the poet is trying to emphasise the words that do rhyme, for example. Poems can be very difficult, but if you take your time and take them line by line then they are a lot more manageble! 

Megan  T. GCSE English Literature tutor, GCSE History tutor

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