How to Read Poems
Poetry is one of the most beautiful art forms, but many people who are just starting out with poetry find the task of reading a poem and truly understanding the meaning behind it to be intimidating and confusing. Luckily, learning how to read poems and getting the full experience that the poet intended is not as difficult as it seems as long as you follow these helpful steps.
Analyze the Title
Poets put just as much effort into their titles as they do the poems themselves. Titles provide important context and information regarding the purpose behind the poem. Keep the title in mind as you read the poem, and finish the poem by re-reading the title. Some titles only make sense once you’ve read the entire poem, and the poem may reveal more meaning once you’ve recalled the title after reading.
Read the Poem Slowly
Poetry requires slow reading and careful attention. Each word is carefully selected for a reason, and every line is lovingly crafted for the sake of conveying a specific message to the reader. Take your time, and slowly absorb everything the poet is trying to convey.
Look Up Any Words or Phrases You Don’t Know
Poetry commonly implements words and phrases with which you may be unfamiliar. If you’re confused about any words or phrases, don’t be ashamed to look up their definitions and meanings. Not only does this ensure that you’ll get the most out of your experience as you read poems, but you’ll expand your vocabulary in an enjoyable manner.
Follow the Rhythm
Poems follow meters, which are rhythmic structures that put emphasis on certain words, lines and syllables to create a particular meaning or effect. Meters are a complicated topic to explore, but you don’t have to worry about the complex details when starting out. Simply take notice of how the poem is structured and why it is structured in that manner. Don’t focus entirely on sentences. Focus on lines. Why did a line break when it did? Was a specific word given emphasis? What would each singular line mean to you when analyzed separately?