Suggestions for Brainstorming
Read the poem at least twice before you
start writing, and ask yourself the following questions to help you
- What type of poem (sonnet, elegy,
narrative, etc.) is it?
- Is there a rhyme scheme? What is
- How many lines are there?
- Is the poem broken up into
- Why did the poet choose this style for the
- Is there any significance in the rhyme
scheme, other than as a means of identifying the poem's
- Is the form consistent with the poem's
content, or appropriate to it?
- Who is speaking in the poem? Is it the
poet, or is it a character (persona) created by the poet to say
this particular thing?
- How does the speaker feel about his
subject? Quote lines or words that show the feelings of the
speaker and other characters.
- What is happening in the poem?
- What is the setting for the action? (Is it day or night,
summer or winter, or does it even matter?
- How does the setting relate to or affect
the purpose or meaning of the poem?
- What are the characters doing?
- Is there conflict between the characters?
- Is there conflict between the characters and some other
force, such as nature or a god or some emotional or ethical situation?
- How do the characters relate to one another
or to the source of conflict?
- Are there any allusions to other poems,
literary characters, or works of art? If so, what do you infer
- Does the poet employ unusual language or
techniques? For example, does he or she use alliteration,
assonance, or poetic language?
- Do these manipulations of language serve a purpose in
the poem by emphasizing the poet's or the persona's attitude or feeling? How
do these devices affect the poem's overall meaning or effect?
- What other physical aspects of the poem,
such as line length, relate to the meaning?
- How do you feel about the poem? What
specific lines, words, ideas, or attitudes in the poem cause you
to feel this way?
- Does the message or situation of the poem
relate to you personally, or do you feel totally without the realm
or sphere of experience detailed in the poem?