1st reading – Just read the poem. Most of us have to read a poem multiple times to figure out the meaning.
2nd reading – DECODE: Try to figure out what is being said literally. What is happening in the poem? Start with the biggest, most obvious things first. When you decode a poem, translate it (paraphrase) into your own words. It’s probably better to decode it stanza by stanza, rather than line by line. Try to find any possible shifts in the poem, either in tone, meaning, or grammar.
A few things that might help with decoding this poem:
➢ Pay attention to the “traveler”. What does s/he do in the poem? ➢ Pay attention to the progression of time and the footprints being erased.
3rd reading – FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE & POETIC DEVICES: This is where you look at the way the poet uses language to make his/her point. Look at the uses and meanings of similes, metaphors, personification, allusion, hyperbole, etc. Here is also where you would determine the rhyme scheme, the use of alliteration, grammatical structure, etc. Identify these by labeling out to the side of the poem.
4th reading – TONE: On this reading, you are trying to determine the tone of the poem’s speaker—how the speaker feels about the subject of the poem. Look over what you have written so far, particularly at the overall use of language you identified during the 3rd reading. Also consider diction (word choice) and connotation (emotional meaning tied to the words chosen). Often, this is where you will see the shift in a poem if one is present.
5th reading – THEME: On the last reading, you are now trying to determine the poem’s theme—the poet’s message or observation to the reader about life, society, or human nature. You can only do this step after decoding/analyzing the poem in its entirety.
Analyze the the poem, using the DFTT approach modeled above. 1) Decode the poem into its literal meaning. 2) Identify examples of...