How to Write Critical Appreciation of a Poem

Critical Appreciation simply means to evaluate and analyze a poem in order to have its better understanding. It includes two steps:

Step 1

In order to write a critical analysis of a poem, one is required to first evaluate the poetic techniques used by the poet. It includes analysis of the genreGenre simply means category.

Every genre has its own distinct features. e.g. Sonnet has 14 lines divided into three quatrains and a couplet. Thus the poem could be a sonnet, ballad, elegy, ode, lyric, dramatic etc.

  • the rhyme scheme: It could either be abba, aabb, abab etc. However, some poems are blank verse as well i.e. without any rhyme scheme (Background, Casually by Nissim Ezekiel)
  • the figures of speech: it includes imagery, simile, metaphor, personification, repetition, pun, oxymoron, alliteration etc.
  • the language style: It includes the use of figures of speech, rhythm, word length, number of lines, images, senses (e.g. in Happy Insensibilityetc.
  • the tone of the speaker: tone can be mysterious, provocative, ominous, festive, fearful, exuberant, hopeful etc.
  • the references to other works: it includes a reference to works of other authors (like Eliot’s reference to Murry in his work The Function of Criticism)

Step 2

Second, the reader should evaluate the meaning of the poem. It includes

  • Speaker: Speaker could be the poet himself (like Wordsworth) or a hero (as in the poems of Keats) or a shepherd etc. Knowing about the speaker is important as every speaker speaks differently.
  • Title: it includes the relevance of the title, its historical significance, etc.
  • Denotation: the literal meaning of the words. It helps to get the basic idea of the poem. e.g. in the poem The Good Morrow by John Donne, the meaning of the words help to understand the diverse knowledge possessed by the Metaphysical Poets.
  • Connotations: the ideas invoked by the words i.e. deeper meaning-the message or universal truth it conveys. This helps to understand the central theme of the poem. e.g. in the poem Ode to Autumn, the central idea is quite different from what the words perceive.
  • Purpose of writing: The purpose of writing could be to inform with facts or to persuade with an appeal to reason or emotions or just to entertain the readers.
  • Movements: A reader is required to have information about the movements that were trending during the time of the poet. The movements have a significant influence on the writing of a poet. e.g. Romantic Movement influenced the poets of the early 19th century.

Having done all the analysis and evaluation, the reader should first write a description of the poem and then its comprehensive interpretation in his own words.