Understanding the Guidelines While Writing an Essay on a Poem

Monday, November 30, 2009

English literature students get to learn literary works which belong to all genres and all types, during their educational course. Poetry, being an integral part of literature, covers a big portion of the syllabus for students of English literature. It is not only one of the most fascinating literary forms to study but it also makes an extremely interesting topic to write on. If you are pursuing literature as your main subject, you will be assigned essays on poems of all types and styles.

The main aspect of studying literature as your main subject is that, you will not be able to make any progress in literature unless your interests in the subject are genuine. Unlike science subjects, literature is not based on any written down theory. Moreover, the books you study are masterpieces which have emerged out of someone’s imagination. Hence, excellent imagination and writing skills are vital to your success in your literature assignments.

Writing an essay on a poem is challenging for the simple fact that poetry is not written as simple sentences, conveying the meaning directly. On the other hand, the beauty of poetry is in its vagueness, which is capable of conveying many thoughts through one single line. While interpreting a poem, you will be attempting to see the topic through the poet’s eyes or looking at it from your own view, but with the condition of making good sense of the lyrics.

What makes it an interesting assignment is the fact that you are allowed to interpret the poem in your own way. The only rule will be that it should tally with the story line, if any, and also with the verses noted down by the poet. Your focus should always be on the basic theme of the poem but you can apply your imagination to interpret the poet’s words in interesting ways.

There is also another side to poetry than that of pure imagination – the technical side. As a literature student, you will be learning all these aspects in great detail. Poetry has different styles. Ballads, Sonnets, epics and dramatic monologues are some of them. It also has different structures and rhyme schemes. It is important to know all these aspects well enough to be able to write an outstanding essay.

When assigned to write an essay on a poem, first read through the guidelines to find out what exactly the purpose of the essay is. Have you been asked to write on the theme of the poem or is it an analysis of a particular character? Have you been asked to explain the metrical structure or the rhyme scheme? Are you expected to analyze the style in which the poem is written? Have you been asked to illustrate how exactly the poem fits into the metrical structure it is supposed to have used? Or have you been asked to interpret a particular stanza of the poem through different angles?

Writing an essay on a poem will not be difficult at all if you take some effort to find out what is expected of you, towards that particular writing project. Understanding the objective of the given assignment is the key to being able to prepare an outstanding essay.

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