METHODOLOGY and USEFUL VOCABULARY WHEN ANALYSING A POEM

 

N'oubliez jamais qu'en anglais la poésie tient à la qualité lyrique -musicale- du texte plus qu'au fait qu'il soit ou non écrit en vers. Aussi , chaque fois que cela sera possible, écoutez un poème en le lisant en prêtant ne attention particulière aux sons et aux rythmes.

 

 

 

 

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A FEW DEFINITIONS

* an alliteration: a special sound effect in poetry, it is the repetition of consonant sounds.

* an assonance: a vowel rhyme. It contributes to creating the lilt of the poem.

* a metaphor: a comparison of two basically unlike things. However the comparison is not stated directly.

* a simile: a direct comparison of two things using a comparing word such as like or as.

* lyricism: the quality of a piece of writing that is the expression of a mood or a feeling.

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I. THE NATURE OF THE POEM

  • Is the poem of a specific nature, or is it blank verse?

     

    • poetry: la poésie

    • verse: de la poésie

    • a poem: un poème

    • poetic: poétique

    • a sonnet: un sonnet

    • an ode: une ode

    • an elegy: une élégie

    • ballad: une ballade

    • a poem written in blank verse: un poème en prose

    • a poem written in free verse: un poème en vers libres

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II. THE CHARACTERS

  • Which personal pronoun(s) is / are most often used ?  'I' / another pronoun.

  • Who is the persona / the narrative voice(= the person speaking the words of the poem, the 'I')?

  • Was / Is the persona involved in what is described?

    • to be involved: être impliqué

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III. THE STRUCTURE

1.The sounds:

  • What sounds recur most often?  Does this have any particular significance?

  • Is the poem rhymed?  If so, is the rhyme pattern regular?

  • Are there pararhymes or internal rhymes?

  • What use does the poet make of other repetitive devices such as alliterations and assonances?

  • What effect is produced by these repetitions?

     

    • a device: un procédé 

    • a stanza: une strophe

    • the rhyme: la rime

    • rhyme pattern: organisation des rimes

    • internal rhymes: rimes internes

    • pararhymes: rimes approximatives

    • vowel sound: son de voyelle

    • consonant sound: son de consonne

    • harsh consonant: consonne dure

    • liquid consonant: consonne liquide

    • onomatopoeia: onomatopée

    • a pattern of sound: un effet sonore

    • an alliteration: une allitération

    • an assonance: une assonance

2. The rhythm:

  • Are there stanzas? if so, are they regular? if not, what does it mean?

  • Is the poem written in free verse / blank verse?

  • Are most of the lines tetrameters ( = four-foot lines) / pentameters ( = five-foot lines)?

  • Is the basic foot the iamb [u -]?

  • Are there many occurrences of other feet such as trochees [- u],  spondees [- -], anapaests [u u -], or dactyls [- uu]?

  • Are there many enjambments or run-on lines, or, on the contrary, does each line make up a whole?

  • Does the arrangement of the lines give fluidity to the poem or, on the contrary, is it a sprung rhythm?

     

    • versification/ prosody: la versification 

    • the lilt: la cadence rythmique

    • the caesura: la césure

    • a foot: un pied

    • a line: un vers

    • blank verse: poésie non rimée

    • the rhythm: le rythme      

    • a lively rhythm: un rythme rapide

    • sprung rhythm: rythme haché, saccadé

    • a run-on line: un enjambement

    • the stress: l'accent tonique

    • to bear the stress: être accentué

    • a stressed / unstressed syllable: une syllabe accentuée / non accentuée

    • an iamb: un iambe (syllabe non accentuée suivie d'une syllabe accentuée[u -])

    • a trochee: un trochée (syllabe accentuée suivie d'une syllabe non accentuée [- u])

    • a spondee: un spondée [- -]

    • an anapaest: un anapeste [u u -]

    • a dactyl: un dactyle [- u u]

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IV. THE MESSAGE OF THE POEM

 

  • Does the poem recall an individual or a general experience?

  • What feelings does the persona express?

  • How do the similes and metaphors help to convey the message of the poem?

  • How do the similes and metaphors help to convey the feelings of the persona?

  • To what semantic field(s) do they belong?

  • What do the symbols used reveal about the poet's preoccupation(s)?

  • How do they enrich the message?

  • Do they make the poem more immediately understandable or do they give it an abstract quality?

  • Are there correspondences between sounds, smells, and feelings?

  • How the other figures of speech and figures of rhetoric enrich the message of the poem?

     

    • the imagery: l'ensemble des images

    • a figure of speech: une figure de style

    • figurative language: mots dont le sens est figuré

    • simile: comparaison, image

    • metaphor: métaphore

    • an extended metaphor: une métaphore filée

    • to evoke: évoquer

    • to convey: exprimer, traduire

    • to stir emotions: faire naître des émotions

    • to appeal to senses: faire appel aux cinq sens

    • to achieve a contrast: établir un contraste

    • to hold one's emotions in check: contôler ses émotions

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V. CONCLUSION

  • What effect does this poem have on the reader?

  • What feelings does it elicit?

  • Can you draw a parallel with another poem / a text you know?

     

    • the poet's craft: l'art du poète

    • a striking feature: une caractéristique frappante

    • a gloomy atmosphere: une atmosphère sinistre

    • a hint of sadness: une touche de tristesse

    • to strike a different note: changer de ton

    • to elicit: susciter, provoquer

    • to do away with form: se libérer des contraintes formelles

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Ó Madame Yannick Guillet