GCSE English Language Revision: How to Analyse a Poem

4th April 2017

GCSE English Language Revision

How to Analyse a Poem 


Poems have been a part of our literary tradition since ancient times and existed even before humans could write them down. Understanding poetry and its purpose can be very easy once you know how. Here are some helpful tips and tricks for analysing a poem for an essay or an exam.



  • Who wrote the poem, do they have some strong views?
  • Where was the poet from or living then?
  •  Was it written in a time of war or social change?
  •  Was there something important that they wanted to share/express?


STRUCTURE AND STYLE –  Types of poems include:

A Sonnet - It has a rhyming style, sometimes with the structure A,B,B,A

A Ballad - is a poem which tells a story, sometimes about love

Free verse - are poems without rules or structures

Blank verse - is in a structure but doesn’t have to rhyme

A Haiku - is Japanese, with 3 lines and 17 syllables

An Ode - is written to show respect or love to a person, place, idea or time



  • What does the title tell us about the poem?
  • Who is the speaker and who are they speaking to?
  • What is the mood of the poem and why did they chose that style?
  • What is the theme- e.g. nature, love or loss or something political?


IMAGERY - What kind of imagery (the sea, war, nature, urban landscape) is used and what’s the atmosphere?


STRUCTURE- What kind of punctuation and stanza shape and length is used? Does it have a certain rhythm?



He uses a metaphor – That’s the POINT.

The metaphor is …– That’s the EVIDENCE.

By using the the metaphor the poet creates…That’s the EXPLANATION.

Whenever you want to make a point you can use this helpful structure.



What is the subject matter of the poem- what is it really trying to say?

How did it make you feel, was it entertaining, sad?





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