Week 15: The
Romantic Temper and the House Divided
Sing Myself"--Walt Whitman
to the Week 15 Schedule)
to Exercise 6)
Table of Contents
How to Write an Analytical Essay about Poetry
Over the Readings
Write an Analytical Essay about Poetry
I. Read the Poem
1) Read the poem silently to yourself
to develop a sense of the poem as a whole.
2) Read the poem aloud or listen to someone
reading it aloud to reinforce your experience of the poem as a whole.
II. Analyze the Text of the Poem
1) Develop a paraphrase of the poem, framing
each complete thought in your own words.
2) Identify the units of thought in the
poem (in stanzas or shorter units).
3) Identify the main ideas conveyed in
each unit of thought and the shifts or breaks between each unit.
4) Write a preliminary summary--perhaps
only a single sentence--of each thought unit
III. Analyze the Elements of the Poem
1) Complete a scansion
of the poem, identifying the metrical patterns and the rhyme scheme
(if there is one).
2) Identify any recurring image patterns.
3) Identify any symbols emerging through
the image patterns and identify their meaning or references.
4) Identify any unique uses of language.
5) Identify any breaks in the scansion
and explain what seems to be the reason or purpose of the changes.
IV. Introduce External Support
1) Identify any features of the author’s
life or commentary that seem relevant to the creation, the purpose, the
theme, or motivation for creating the poem.
2) Identify any historical, social, political,
or philosophical elements that may seem relevant to an interpretation of
V. Interpret the Poem
1) Explain what the central “message”
of the poem means to you and identify the elements which have prompted
2) Explain alternative interpretations
that other readers might draw from the poem and identify those features
VI. Evaluate the Poem
1) Identify criteria (standards) on which
the poem should be judged.
2) Identify those elements of the poem
which relate to those criteria.
3) Describe what an effective example
of the standard would be like.
4) Explain why you feel the poem meets
or fails to meet the standard illustrated in your description.
Over the Readings
Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself”
1) Identify the five stages of Whitman’s
spiritual growth in “Song of Myself.”
2) In what themes and motifs does “Song
of Myself” echo Emerson’s “Self Reliance”?
Basic Concepts Related to the Readings
Romantic Conception of Nature and Spirit
Neo-Classical and Romantic Motifs
This page was last modified
on August 27, 2004,
and is maintained by
Dr. Geoffrey A. Grimes.