How to Write a Poem Analysis Essay

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Thursday, February 11, 2010

How to Write a Paper or Essay – Imagery

All stories have some kind of imagery. Imagery is the descriptive or figurative language that authors use to create a mental image or picture in the readers’ minds. (Figurative language includes literary tools such as similes and metaphors – we’ll discuss them more next week).

Imagery is a very powerful tool in an author’s arsenal, and as such, it’s a great tool to discuss when writing a literary analysis. Here are some things to think about when discussing the imagery in a literary work:

  • What are some examples of imagery in the work?
  • Are there recurring images? What do they mean?
    • for instance, say there are images of water throughout a book; streams, lakes, rivers, rain falling, waterfalls, a cup of water being tipped over and trickling off a table, spilling drip by drip onto the floor, echoing the drip, drip of the MC’s blood as it flows from his body – what might be the purpose of these images? What does the water represent? (this is getting a bit into symbolism, which often goes hand in hand with imagery). Why are there so many watery images in the story?
  • Does the descriptive and figurative language used by the author work well in creating the intended image? Is it too overdone, creating something more amusing than powerful? Would another description or image have worked better or worse?
  • What are the most important examples of imagery in the story?
  • How do these images relate to the main theme of the book? Do they help enhance the point the author is trying to make? Why or why not?

You could focus on one main image (like our water example) or discuss several instances of imagery in the work you are analyzing. But in each case, discuss the importance of the imagery. Don’t just point it out, giving the reader the WHAT…give us the WHY. Why are these images important? Why are they in the book? Why did the author use that particular image? What sort of picture does the imagery paint and does it work better or worse than another might? Why or why not?

4
comments:

Average Terran
said…

I would be truly honored if you gave your poetic advice on my blogs of poetry and follow them.

http://thehumanicana.blogspot.com/

http://humanicanagold.blogspot.com/

Anonymous
said…

Thank you so much for this advice. I’m writing a paper on imagery within a particular poem, and for some reason I could not decide how to approach this properly. Your suggestions have been most helpful!

Thanks and God bless.

Anonymous
said…

Thank you so much i have to write a peper about imagery in a poem and give examples of it as well.

dovo razor
said…

Delighted that I found your site, fantastic info. I will bookmark and try to visit more frequently.


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Examples of Imagery in Poetry with Analysis

written by: Trent Lorcher
• edited by: SForsyth
• updated: 1/20/2012

Use these examples of imagery in poetry to impress your friends and get an ‘A’ on your next poetry assignment.

  • slide 1 of 3

    Imagery is the use of vivid or figurative language to represent objects, actions, or ideas. You use imagery all the time in every day language when you say things like “quiet as a mouse,” or “dumb as a box of rocks.”

    Here are examples of imagery in poetry from William Wordsworth’s “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud.”

    Example: “A host of golden daffodils; / Beside the lake, beneath the trees, / Fluttering and dancing in the breeze. (4-6)

    Analysis: There aren’t several daffodils; there aren’t a lot of daffodils; there aren’t many daffodils. There’s a freaking host of ’em. There are so many, in fact, that there beside the lake and beneath the trees. Wordsworth then employs personification, describing daffodils “fluttering and dancing in the breeze.” A few lines down he recollects that the daffodils were engaged in a “sprightly dance.” I’m excited by this image. Heck, I want to throw a daffodil party right now. You’re invited.

    Example: “Continuous as the stars that shine / And twinkle on the milky way, / They stretched in never-ending line / Along the margin of a bay.” (7-10).

    Analysis: Wordsworth uses a simile in line 7 to connect the daffodils to the Universe; in other words, Wordsworth is claiming that becoming one with nature is equivalent to becoming one with the Universe or with God.

    Simply identifying examples of imagery is not enough. One must interpret the image and explain its effect on the poem as a whole, which we have done in the analysis sections. For more on how to analyze a poem, follow the link.

    Those who are able to take specific lines from literature and relate them to the entire work develop critical thinking skills that will serve them for a life time. Those who can use imagery to communicate their ideas more clearly advance on the path of becoming a master of words.

  • slide 2 of 3

    More Examples of Imagery in Poetry

    The following examples are from “The Eagle” by Lord Alfred Tennyson:

    Example: “He clasps the crag with crooked hands.” (1).

    Analysis: The hard consonant sounds combined with images of crags and crooked hands set up the desolateness of nature and its cruelty.

    Example: “The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls; / He watches from his mountain walls.” (4-5).

    Analysis: Tennyson provides the image of a predatory bird scouring the sea for prey.

    Example: “And like a thunderbolt he falls.” (6).

    Analysis: Tennyson employs a simile, comparing the eagle’s descent to a thunderbolt. It hints at the suddenness at which life can end.

    The following examples of imagery come from Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven.”

    Example: “Each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.” (7).

    Analysis: Embers are personified as dying. The reader is treated to the image of living objects becoming ghosts, a foreshadowing of the narrator’s fate.

    Example: “And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon that is dreaming.” (105).

    Analysis: The connection between the raven and pure evil is made through the image of its demon eyes.

  • slide 3 of 3

    For Further Study

    The following list of poems will help you learn about imagery in poetry:

    1. “The Love Song of J. Alfred Proofrock” by T.S. Eliot
    2. “To a Mouse” by Robert Burns
    3. “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost
    4. Anything by Keats, Shelley, Byron, Blake, or Wordsworth
    5. Anything by Frost
    6. “The Red Wheelbarrow” by William Carlos Williams
    7. “In a Station of the Metro” by Ezra Pound
    8. “Eulogy for a Hermit Crab” by Pattiann Rogers
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Analyzing the Elements of Poetry

Impress your friends and teachers with your knowledge of poetry.
  1. Examples of Imagery in Poetry with Analysis
  2. Examples of Similes in Poetry and a Study Guide
  3. Poetry Analysis Study Guide: Examples of Metaphors in Poetry
  4. Examples of Personification in Poetry with Analysis
  5. Examples of Poetry Using Figurative Language with Analysis