Reading and Writing about Poetry (Lesson 7)
Like novels, poems can be analyzed as singular events, or they can be compared/contrasted in a broader conversation. You might look at multiple works from the same author, works featuring the same themes, works with the same image pattern, or works in the same genre (lyrics, elegies, etc.) There are lots of options. When asked to analyze poetry try to think of a persuasive thesis ( an opinion), then brainstorm at least three forms of evidence to help you construct the body paragraphs. When writing a compare/contrast, you want to think of your three forms of ‘evidence’ instead as your ‘three points of comparison’.
A poetry analysis, then, might have thesis statement like this:
Although “Traveling Through the Dark” by William Stafford uses the same situation as Robert Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” it presents a view of humanity and nature that is far more bleak.
I would then construct the body of the paper to explore and discuss the ways in which the two poems differ.
I could have said:
“Traveling Through the Dark” by William Stafford uses imagery of birth and death to imagine a world in which human beings are like the cruel gods of Greek mythology, deciding the fate of others arbitrarily.
The evidence I choose to support my opinion helps me to structure my piece, no matter what the evidence is.
Compare and Contrast Writing
If I’m comparing/contrasting, I might think of two subjects and then three ways to compare/contrast them, my “points of comparison.”
I would then, most likely, structure the body of my paper like this:
Intro with thesis
1st body paragraph: Setting: discuss both poems and how they treat the physical setting of the poem.
2nd body paragraph: Imagery: discuss the particular images employed in each poem.
3rd body paragraph: Theme: discuss how the first two elements create a thematic statement in each poem.
Then I would conclude.
This is called a point-by-point arrangement and can be applied to any compare and contrast assignment, whether you are examining movies, poems, generals, disease treatment protocols, presidents, graduate schools, etc.