How to Read a Poem | Academy of American Poets

1) What are the three false assumptions readers of poems often make?

2) To understand a poem, sooner or later you’re going to have to _______________________. (multiple words)

3)  Which of these is NOT a question suggested for you to ask?

A) Is there a section of the poem that seems to have a rhythm that’s distinct from the rest of the poem?

B) Are there footnotes for the poem?  C) Do you notice any special effects? D) Do any of the words rhyme?

E) Is the whole poem in the same language? F) Is there a cluster of sounds that seem the same or similar?

G) Have you read this poem before?

4) The most natural approach is to pay strict attention to the ______ and ______ Reading to the end of a ______ or ______, even if it carries over one or several ______, is the best way to retain the ______ ______ of a poem.

5) Most poems are open to interpretation without the aid of historical ______ or knowledge about the ______ ______.

6) The most magical and wonderful poems are ever ______ ______, which is to say they remain ever ______.

How To Read a Poem Out Loud  |  Poetry 180  |  Poet Laureate Projects  |  Poet Laureate  |  Poetry & Literature  |  Programs  |  Library of Congress (

7) A poem cannot be read too ______.

8)  Obviously, poems come in lines, but pausing at the end of every line will create a ________ effect and interrupt the flow of the poem’s ______. Readers should pause only where there is ______, just as you would when reading prose, only more slowly.

9) What traditional reference work should be used?  It really should be employed much more often than it is, especially in reading older works.

Meter in Poetry – Definition and Examples | Poem Analysis

10) Meter is the pattern of ______ in a line of poetry.  A metrical foot is usually ______ or ______ beats.

11)  Match them (use ABCDEF first: AG, BH, etc. if those were right.)

A: Free Verse              B: Blank Verse            C: Anapestic Meter

D: Iambic Pentameter             E: Dactylic Meter       F: Spondee Meter

G: one stressed syllable followed by two unstressed syllables. It is the opposite of an anapest.

H: lines are unrhymed, and there are no consistent metrical patterns. But, that doesn’t mean it is entirely without structure.

I: one unstressed syllable followed by one stressed syllable. The most popular metrical pattern.

J: two unstressed syllables followed by one stressed.

K: an arrangement of two syllables in which both are stressed.

L: poetry that is written in unrhymed lines but with a regular metrical pattern.

12) Now match them to the example poems.  I will use some lines from each example.

Only THREE are used.

A: Free Verse              B: Blank Verse            C: Anapestic Meter

D: Iambic Pentameter             E: Dactylic Meter       F: Spondee Meter

U: ‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,

W:  Half a league, half a league

Half a league onward,

All in the valley of death

Y: That’s my last Duchess painted on the wall,

Looking as if she were alive. I call

That piece a wonder, now; Fra Pandolf’s hands

Worked busily a day, and there she stands. 

Guide to Poetic Terms | Poetry at Harvard  And my attachment

13) Match (using ABC etc. in order first)

A:  Simile     B: Metaphor   C: Alliteration    D: End-stopped    E:  Assonance     F: Enjambed

I: A line which should not have a pause but carry on.

K: Saying one thing is LIKE something else.

L: A line of verse which should logically have a pause at the end.

M: Vowel sounds which mostly match.

N: Saying one thing IS something else.  “My heart is a dying ember.”

O: Not vowel sounds which mostly match.

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