How To Analyse Poetry

Updated: Apr 5, 2019

With exam season almost over, it’s time for a final quick English revision post. Today, I’ll give you my top tips for what to look out for in terms of form, language and structure within unseen poetry texts.


  • Identify the type of poem – Is it a sonnet, ballad, narrative, epic, ode, elegy? Or is it something else?

  • Note the number of stanzas and how many syllables and lines the poem consists of – What does this suggest about the message of the poem?

  • Is there any rhyming? – Is there internal, end, half, eye, alternative, envelope, feminine or masculine rhyme? Any homonyms or homophones? Any rhyming couplets or rhyming triplets? (If requested, I’ll make another post explaining different types of rhyme)


  • Language – Is it colloquial, persuasive, etc.?

  • Alliteration

  • Onomatopoeia

  • Hyperbole

  • Metaphors

  • Similes

  • Motifs

  • Repetition

  • Oxymoron

  • Personification

  • Pathetic fallacy

  • Imagery

  • Symbolism

  • Consonance

  • Assonance

  • Emotive language


  • Consider the setting of the poem

  • How is time used? Is it linear (chronological) or cyclical (returns to where it started)?

  • Does it have a dramatic opening?

  • Does it have a dramatic ending?

  • Meter – Are there any iambic pentameters? (I will do another post to explain meter if requested)

  • Enjambment

  • Foreshadowing

  • Juxtaposition

  • Contrast

  • Is there a pivotal moment?

I hope these helped you. Feel free to get in touch with any requests!

Good luck, Sophie x

Note: This picture belongs to Wix.

  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Instagram