Unseen poems are included in English literature exams all over the world.
Many students find they drop the most marks in this area. Poetry analysis is not difficult once some basic skills are mastered. When faced with unseen poetry, there are some steps that students can follow to help them understand the meaning and answer the questions.
The best way to improve skills of analysis for unseen poems is to practice. See below for tips.
Look at the title and try to predict what the poem is about.
Look at the form of the poem. How many stanzas are there? How many lines are there in each stanza? Is the poem in a special shape? If so, does the shape mean anything? See the bottom of the page for an example of poem which has a special shape with special meaning.
Read the poem 'aloud' to yourself in your head. Imagine you are reading it out loud (but don't actually do it or you might get into trouble). This is very important because it will help you to notice the rhythm and the rhyme in the poem.
DON'T PANIC IF YOU SEE WORDS YOU DON'T KNOW IN UNSEEN POEMS !
You can usually guess them by looking at the other words.
Think about who the 'speaker' is? Is the poem written through the poet's eyes or is it written in the third person (he/she). These are the voices of the poem.
Think about the main subject of the poem. You need to think about the setting and the situation.
Look at the choice of words. Are they negative or positive? Are there any ideas that are repeated? This will help you to identify themes (such as nature).
Remember not to panic if there are words you don't know.
Look at the rhyme and rhythm of the poem,
Identify any poetic devices such as metaphors, similes and personification. How do they affect the meaning of the poem? Do they make it stronger?
Look for imagery - descriptive language that 'paints a picture' in the reader's mind.
Look at the mood of the poem.
Lastly, what message is the poem giving? Are there any deeper meanings? What can you learn from the poem?
How is the message conveyed?
What is your personal response to the poem?