MYTUTOR SUBJECT ANSWERS

310 views

How do I approach an unseen poem?

It is very important to remember when analysising an unseen poem that is NOT PROSE. This means the tools that you apply to the text must take into account the differences between the two. To make sure you distinguish your approach to poetry from your approach to prose, it is most important that you focus on FORM, VOICE and SOUND.

An essential component of poetry is FORM. How many stanzas are there? How long are they? What is their relation to each other? These are all questions that focus in on the form of the poem, as they interpret the thinking behind how the poem is structured. Are lengthy stanzas placed beside shorter ones merely by chance? Or is that a deliberate choice by the poet to weigh short, sharp clarity against longer, more aimless strands of the poem?

Noticing the difference between stanzas, and how they relate, is also crucial to understanding VOICE in poetry. Poets often play with the concept of voice, challenging your assumption that there is one speaker throughout. The  'I' from stanza 1 may not be the 'me' in stanza 2. The question as to who is speaking in any given poem is very rarely a straightforward one. Who are these voices? Where are they speaking from, and what are their motivations? Think of these voices as different masks, or characters, of the poet's voice. They may not be distinct personalities, but they may show different tones, dictions or accents which you can identify.

When analysing what these voices are actually saying, it is important to remember that poems are meant to read aloud, meaning that SOUND plays a crucial role. Does the poem use rhyme, and to what effect? Are they obvious nursery rhymes that chime together easily or are they more are they disjointed half rhymes that share some sounds but not all? Do the words look like they rhyme, like 'raid' and 'said', but actually don't? Are there internal rhymes in the poem and how does this affect how you read it? There are other sound techniques used by poets that you should look out for. Assonance (shared vowel sounds, as in the 'o' sound in 'row' and 'mouth') and Consonance (shared consonant sounds, as in the 'p' in 'help' and 'stop') are also important to look out for, especially if the poem does not use rhyme (or at least not obviously).

Poetry is an art which like scultpure has shape, like drama has characters and voices, and like music has sound. These elements must be incorporated into any analysis of poetry.

Thomas S. A Level English and World Literature tutor, IB English and ...

7 months ago

Answered by Thomas, an A Level English Literature tutor with MyTutor


Still stuck? Get one-to-one help from a personally interviewed subject specialist

75 SUBJECT SPECIALISTS

£20 /hr

Sophie L.

Degree: Romantic and Victorian Literary Studies (Masters) - Durham University

Subjects offered: English Literature, English Language+ 2 more

English Literature
English Language
-Personal Statements-

“I am a postgraduate student at Durham University, studying a Masters in Romantic and Victorian Literary Studies. I have been a tutor of English Language and Literature for three years now and I am extremeley enthusiastic about the aca...”

£20 /hr

Anna H.

Degree: English Literature (Bachelors) - Durham University

Subjects offered: English Literature

English Literature

“Hello, My name is Anna and I am studying for a degree in English Literature from Durham University. As much as I love my subject, I understand that it can be daunting to tackle the wide range of questions that can be thrown at you an...”

MyTutor guarantee

£20 /hr

Rachel P.

Degree: English Literature (Bachelors) - St. Andrews University

Subjects offered: English Literature, Religious Studies+ 1 more

English Literature
Religious Studies
English Language

“RACHEL PATEL About Me: Hi there, welcome to my profile! My name is Rachel and I am studying English Literature at the University of St. Andrews. Studying English at university has always been one of my greatest ambitions, so I'm excit...”

MyTutor guarantee

About the author

Thomas S.

Currently unavailable: for regular students

Degree: English & American Studies (Bachelors) - Manchester University

Subjects offered: English Literature, Politics+ 5 more

English Literature
Politics
History of Art
English and World Literature
-Personal Statements-

“I am a English & American Studies student at the University of Manchester. While my passion is the written word, I have always had a desire for knowledge about all the questions that surround works of literature. What were Dante's pol...”

MyTutor guarantee

You may also like...

Other A Level English Literature questions

How do I use a quote successfully in an essay?

How can I stop 'feature spotting' in an exam?

How do Dickens and Eliot present the pressures placed on an individual?

How do I effectively analyse a quotation in a text?

View A Level English Literature tutors

Cookies:

We use cookies to improve our service. By continuing to use this website, we'll assume that you're OK with this. Dismiss

mtw:mercury1:status:ok