Poetry essay: Understanding poetry better

Sometimes poetry can be hard to understand.  You can read through a poem, and have no idea what it means.  What can you do about this?  How can you better understand poetry?  Here are some steps you can take:

Read it again

For a specific poem you are having trouble understanding, try reading it again.  Read it more than twice.  Read it five or six times.  Try reading it line by line while pausing to think about what each line means.  You might try writing out the meaning as you go and then reading over that when you are done.

Write poetry

One way to better understand poetry you read, is by writing poetry.  By working with words, metaphors, symbols, rhymes, and so forth, you can gain a better understanding of them.  This understanding can help you when you read poems that are difficult to understand.  If you are looking for poetry topic ideas, check out the category on this blog.  There are dozens of poetry ideas that you can use as prompts for writing poetry.

Read explained poems

One way to better understand poetry in general, is to read what different poems mean.  By reading interpretations of poems, you can get better at interpreting them yourself.  You can read poems with explanations on this blog and you can find them in Understanding: poems with explanations.

Discuss poetry

If you talk through poems that you are having trouble understanding with others, it can help you to figure out what the poems mean.  The people you talk to might see things you don’t or understand symbols that you missed.  By going through the discussion you can learn from other perspectives.  You can also learn by explaining what you know about poems that you read.

Read more poems

One way to better understand poetry is to read more poems.  The more poems you read, the more times you see things.  You will see particular metaphors, symbols, ideas, forms, words, and so forth more.  By encountering more poems you can come into contact with more poetry elements.  This can help you when you try to understand difficult poems.  You can find a number of poems on this blog.

Listen to poems

Tone of voice matters.  How words are spoken matters.  Sometimes a poem can sound obscure until you hear the author read it.  When you hear the author read a poem, by listening to their style, pauses, inflection, and so forth, the poem can gain new meaning.  You can get better insight into what the poet is trying to say.  Look for opportunities to listen to poetry.  You might go to readings, find videos online, or listen to audio books.