TEST ESSAY ON POEM
Someone in an office hour found it helpful, so here is the outline of a model analysis I presented
in the Shakespeare lecture.
INTRODUCTION Begin with a brief introduction identifying the poem and writer, the general
subject, and the speaker and experience dealt with in the poem. Then a thesis statement,
something phrased as an argument, something like…
Shakespeare’s imagery in Sonnet 1 creates a positive and negative picture of the youth, revealing
a great ambivalence in the speaker’s feelings.
The body of the essay will support your thesis, show how the structure or development of the
poem imitates or reflects the speaker’s thinking and feeling, how it supports the plot or thought,
and how the language of the poem helps to create this structure of thought and emotion and
reveals details of the speaker’s response.
You’ll mention tone, diction, imagery, figures of speech like metaphor and irony. You can divide
your essay up in terms of the categories which are most appropriate. You might take another look
at the two reading strategy sheets – Suggestions for analyzing poetry 1 & 2 - I’ve posted in the
Poetry folder on the Home page.
PLOT SUMMARY – after the introduction write a brief summary of the speaker’s actions or
thoughts or feelings in each quatrain and the final couplet, pointing out where the falls and how
it comments on or sums up or solves the problems/feelings of the previous lines.
In Quatrain 1 the speaker asserts that we want beautiful people to have children and perpetuate
beauty, so that even though each one of us dies (killed by Time) we can be immortal through our
In Q 2 he tells a beautiful young man that he is feeding on himself and harming himself.
After praising the young man in Q3 he expands this reproach, contrasting his unique beauty to
his miserly hoardin