We will write a custom Essay on How to Read a Poem Correctly specifically for you
807 certified writers online
Understanding poetry requires both technique and skills, as well as curiosity. The latter makes the reader ask the right questions and engage in “a conversation with a poem” (“How to Read a Poem”). The main purpose of attentive reading is to pose a meaningful interpretive question that requires more than one response. Typical mistakes when interpreting poetry include reading it only once and assuming that the poem can mean whatever the reader wants (“How to Read a Poem”). As Blue remarks, the best way to understand the essence of the poem is to read it with the same attention one typically gives to strangers’ dialogue that one is trying to eavesdrop on. Using these pieces of advice, the reaction to two poems by Robert Hayden will be disclosed.
The phrase that catches attention in “Frederick Douglass” is “but with the lives grown out of his life, the lives / fleshing his dream of the beautiful, needful thing” (Hayden, “Frederick Douglass”, pp. 13-14). This quote seems to hold the meaning of the author’s description of Douglass. The main character depicted in the poem is presented as the one who has made a profound contribution to the development of humanity. However, Hayden emphasizes that no material monument can reflect the degree of gratefulness to Douglass better than people’s love and memory can.
Another poem, “Those Winter Days,” strikes with its literary qualities. Particularly, the use of consonants creates a melody that helps to understand the rhythm of this free-verse piece (Biespil). Instances of alliteration are specifically vivid in such lines as “clothes on in the blue-black cold” (Hayden, “Those Winter Days”, p. 2) and “cracked hands that ached” (3). A better understanding of this poem can also be gained through posing questions about the narrator, his relationships with his father, the father’s occupation, and other aspects of their life.
The analysis of poetic pieces is not an easy matter, but it can be simplified by employing helpful approaches. When interpreting Hayden’s “Frederick Douglass,” the most important aspect was finding a catching phrase. Meanwhile, when reading “Those Winter Days,” literary qualities and questions were more helpful. It is evident that to grasp the main essence of poems, one has to read them several times and be highly cautious of minute details.
- Biespiel, David. “Poem Guide: Robert Hayden: “Those Winter Sundays”.” Poetry Foundation, 2007. Web.
- Blue, Tina. “Eavesdropping on a Poem: How to Understand What You Can Understand.” Tinablue.Homestad, 2000. Web.
- Hayden, Robert. “Frederick Douglass.” Poetry Foundation, 1966. Web.
- “Those Winter Sundays,” Poetry Foundation, 1966. Web.
- “How to Read a Poem.” Poets.org, n.d. Web.