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Hello Everyone!

I was wondering if I could get some advice on how to fully annotate poems, i.e. what to start with, and what important things to note. Anything that can help really.

Thank you all :3

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What to look for in a poem. How to fully annotate. These are the all-too-familiar, "sensible" routines of the classroom: are you not following these in your school?

I feel that almost any answer to your question will be beside the point, because poetry is not really meant to be analysed, but "felt." Experienced. So make sure you "get it" first. Catching the bird on the wing, so to speak. Otherwise you miss the experience which informs whatever academic nitpicking you do next.


Start with overall impression.

-What comes out most forcefully from your encounter with this expressive piece...?

Phrased..."What strikes me most powerfully..." "The pervasive / overall feeling is..."

Mechanics - nuts and bolts:

How does the poem help you experience these thoughts, feelings? (Structure, diction, imagery).

Remember that a lot of poetry (the good sort, worth learning) is meant to be heard, so hear it as best you can. How many of us hear poetry anymore? So this might be a bit difficult unless you get practise in class. But this will inform the notes you take on the musical aspects - rhyme, rhythm, sound imagery ... After that, do the more naturally-school thing and examine the butterfly pinned (and inert) on the page. Note the shape and how it is arranged on the page. That will provide your notes on structure. Some aspects of structure, anyway. The other part is ideational.

Putting it together:

Consider the significance of that experience ... "So what?" Or " what gives?" Or "why should anyone care?"

Your annotation will be informed by your response to these.

Edited by Blackcurrant

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I am going to copy and paste you here something I wrote in another topic:

When analysing literature texts always follow the P.E.A scheme!

P - Point. This is what you want to prove. It is kind of like your mini-thesis statement for your paragraph.

E - Evidence. This is the example or portrayel of the point you are trying to make. In most cases a quote, this being direct or indirect.

A - Analysis. This is the CORE of your paragraph. What is the effect generated by specific terms in the quote? What can you infer? What are the literary devices used and how do they relate to the effect?

Lets take the following poem as an example:

"My Heart is Heavy"

My heart is heavy with many a song
Like ripe fruit bearing down the tree,
But I can never give you one --
My songs do not belong to me.

Yet in the evening, in the dusk
When moths go to and fro,
In the gray hour if the fruit has fallen,
Take it, no one will know.

by Sara Teasdale
Say you want to write a paragraph about the tone in the poem.

Point: The poem "My Heart is Heavy", by Sara Teasdale, displays a secretive and ominous tone through-out its lines.
Evidence: This can be appreciated when the atmosphere is set: "When moths go to and fro, // In the grey hour if the fruit has fallen..." (lines 6 & 7)
Analysis: The use of words like“moths” and “grey hour” give an idea of how night has fallen and that the background in which the poem is taking place has changed, hence, the impression of a secretive environment. The use of an allegory can be appreciated in the word “fruit”. Through the poem, this is used to represent the secret that the narrator is keeping and cannot share with someone else. In this context, it also turns into a symbol of power, temptation and a hunger for knowledge. It represents the craving and curiosity that a person can have for a secret.

My teacher also told us that you need to give the text multiple reads. The first one should be just reading, and you should note down the parts that stick out to you, as they probably have interesting content to analyse. The second one you should read with a pencil more carefully and write down notes "questioning" the text. (Like: Why is her heart heavy? Why would moths go to and fro?) This will allow you to understand the text better. Then I like to scan the text highlighting special literary devices or word selections+themes that I can write about.

Hope this helped!

On a separate note, you should really focus on looking at tone, language, literary devices, structure and themes, between other things.

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Thank you both so much

We do have a routine in class, but I don't think any of us fully understand it. We're not very good at making essays regarding poetry, and I'm finding it difficult, especially with the cryptic meanings behind it. I do want to do well in English though, so the more advice I get, the better. :')

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