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    Analyzing poetry

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    We were assigned a poem to read and have been asked to analyze it. I've read the poem, but I have no idea what to say. Where should I begin?

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    With most poems, it is a good idea to begin with what might seem a bit obvious, but can be revealing--the appearance of the text on the page. Is there a level of experimentation with grammatical rules, capitalization, or spaces between words? Which rules are followed, which ones are broken, and where? Why do we suppose those choices were made? What's the impact?

    Where do the lines break? What's the result? Do we at first expect a different word to being the following line? Are we surprised by what is there instead? What's the effect of this?

    Next, it may be important to fully visualize what is happening in the poem. Who is speaking? What do we learn about this person? Who is the audience for the poem (or is there more than one)? What is being said to the audience? Which lines, and which phrases put forth that message?

    Do we agree with ...