Poetry is one of the things I knew I would study in my English class, and I had been dreading it all semester. Before now, I didn’t really understand or appreciate poetry. I guess my issue with it before was that I felt like authors should just state what they mean. Poetry is often so short that so much is left up to interpretation. More often that not, I was confused after reading a piece of poetry, but I think that’s because I didn’t know how to read it. My English instructor simplified it in a way no other teacher had ever done for me, and going through her model, I have been able to pull so much out of so many different poems.
She taught me to start with the theme, the speaker, and the tone. Who is the poem about, what is he or she saying, and how is he or she saying it? From there, I look for diction and syntax, which is word choice and placement, as those things are usually chosen for a reason in poetry. Then I look at sound, figures of speech, and finally rhythm and meter. We looked closely at seven poems this semester and took our poetry test today. My favorite poems were “Those Winter Sundays” by Robert Hayden and “I Could Not Stop For Death” by Emily Dickinson. I identify so much with the former, and the latter is just so interesting to me. Dickinson personified death and wrote about him like he was a gentleman escorting her to her “eternity;” she was strangely upbeat about the whole idea.