48 How to Annotate

Analyze / Annotate a Poem

  1. Read the poem carefully.
  2. Jot down all the words or terms that are unfamiliar to you, then look them up and record what they mean.
  3. Now, with the unfamiliar sections identified, re-read the poem.
  4. What is the subject of the poem? Note this next to the title.
  5. Who is the speaker? What is his/her point of view in the poem? Underline the lines or images in the poem that you think give insight into the speaker and point of view. In the margin beside these sections, note how the lines or images inform you about the speaker and point of view.
  6. Go through the poem and identify all figurative language. That means look for metaphors, similes, allusions, symbols, etc. Also look for imagery (language that appeals to the senses). What do they each mean in the context of the poem? Circle examples of figurative language and note in the margin how you think they relate to the subject of the poem.
  7. Look for sound devices (alliteration, assonance, consonance), meter, rhyme scheme etc. How do these things make the poem sound? What feeling or tone do they give to the poem? Also look at the diction of the poem (word choice)? What tone does it create? At the bottom of the page, record sound devices and example of word choice (for example – see line 3 – alliteration – the tone feels anxious or worrisome).
  8. On another page or document, make a claim about the theme or meaning of the poem. What is this poem about?
  9. Reread the poem and look for anything you missed on your first read through.


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