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How to Read a Poem: Home

This short guide will help you get into a poem more deeply, and help you describe your perceptions more exactly.

Why this guide?

Reading poems for their fuller meaning can be difficult. The best poetry has meaning far beyond the surface, often multi-layered and challenging. This short Guide should help you understand a poem better, and have something personal to say about it.

About this guide


his series of steps is based on a list by Frank Warnke, one of the editors of the New Princeton Encyclopedia of of Poetry and Poetics. His steps epitomize the New Critics' approach, with emphasis on the poem itself. After making the poem your own, you can research the biography or psychology of the poet, read criticism, etc. But you'll understand critical work on the poem better if you know it intimately to begin with. These steps will help you do that.

Some poets of note


Dante, Shakespeare, Kazantzakis

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