How to Read and Understand Poetry
Use two strategies together: MRS
and Question Asking.
Apply the MRS or Multiple Reading Strategy.
the title and the whole poem the first time just to check your own emotional reaction.
How does the poem make you feel?
- If your answer is "Confused," go back and
look up any vocabulary you did not understand.
- Read the title of the poem again. Authors tell
you the main focus of a poem by giving it a title that unlocks the
meaning of the poem.
Ask questions and read the poem again.
- Create your questions by using the 5W + H formula:
Who is speaking? Who or what is the poem about? What happens?
- Read the poem again. Ask yourself what symbols
the author might be using. If
necessary, use the
symbols dictionary. If the author is repeating words, images, or
actions, the author is telling you to pay attention to see the message that
is being sent to the reader.
- Trust yourself. It's okay for people to have
different interpretations of a poem.
Of course, you can also do a
Google search using the title of the poem plus the keywords explication,
explanation, symbols, analysis, or summary, but you'll find it more rewarding
to do the detective work on your own. It's cool to
discover that poetry is understandable. Have faith in yourself. You figure
out the meanings of songs every day, don't you?