Think about what kind of 'person' is speaking or telling the poem - the 'poetic voice'

Categories: Poems
About this essay
About this essay
How can I use this essay sample?
You can use the free samples as references, and sources, and for finding quotes, and citations. They can be helpful to learn about formatting, styles, and different types of essay structures. They're also a great source of inspiration!
Who wrote this sample and why are these essays free?
These samples are written by graduate students who have donated them to us and by our own expert writers. We only accept writing samples from experienced and qualified writers. The essays are free because we want to help all students, regardless of their financial situation. This is why we offer a mix of paid and free services and tools.
Is it plagiarism to use sample essays?
If you use the essay as a whole, then yes. These samples are only examples and someone else's work. You should paraphrase and cite everything you use from sample essays properly.

Re-read the poem(s) carefully and try to find the correct tone of voice with which to read it. This will help you read it as the poet intended it and you will become aware of the poet’s attitude towards the subject matter.

Think about what kind of ‘person’ is speaking or telling the poem – the ‘poetic voice’.

Think about who they are telling its ‘story’ to, as well as where and when (it may be an ‘interior monologue’ – a single voice talking to itself!).

Some poems are like one ‘half’ of a conversation – something like two people or friends talking. Thinking of a poem like this can reveal a lot and demystify the idea that poems are very ‘special’ and difficult.

Look at the sentences of the poem and work out what each one means.

Now look at how the sentences have been ‘chopped up’ for effect into the lines of the poem. Only poetry allows this odd way of dealing with sentences – it is an important aspect of poetic form.

Get quality help now
Bella Hamilton
Bella Hamilton
checked Verified writer

Proficient in: Linguistics

star star star star 5 (234)

“ Very organized ,I enjoyed and Loved every bit of our professional interaction ”

avatar avatar avatar
+84 relevant experts are online
Hire writer

Some lines end with a full stop and come to an abrupt end (called ‘end-stopped’). What is the effect and purpose?

Some lines ‘run on’ into the next line or stanza (called enjambment). What is the effect and purpose?

Does this allow emphasis on certain words? What is the effect and reason?

Does it create a pause between words in the sentence and a natural emphasis on one of the words (the pause is called a caesura)? What is the effect and purpose?

Note any particularly different shaped lines – sometimes very short ones can create the effect of conversation.

Get to Know The Price Estimate For Your Paper
Number of pages
Email Invalid email

By clicking “Check Writers’ Offers”, you agree to our terms of service and privacy policy. We’ll occasionally send you promo and account related email

"You must agree to out terms of services and privacy policy"
Write my paper

You won’t be charged yet!

Look out for the repetition of words and phrases as this must surely suggest something important.

Look out for the use of alliteration (repeated initial word sounds), assonance (repeated internal vowel sounds) and rhyme (repeated end of word sounds). What effect is created and how does it aid meaning or tone?

Often these ‘sound effects’ are used to create a particular tone of voice. For example, repeated hard consonants (b, p, c, k, d, etc.) can be harsh sounding whereas repeated soft consonants (sh, ch, s, f, m, etc.) and vowels can be soothing. Rhyme can suggest or add a sense of harmony as if “everything’s all right with the world”; half-rhyme (e.g. moan/mourn, years/yours) can suggest discord.

Look out for the use of regular length stanzas that have a repeated rhythm. This is a traditional form of English verse and hints at an idea of ‘control’ and ‘harmony’ – as if ‘everything is well with the world’ – ‘in control’.

the opposite of this is called ‘free verse’ – the poem has no obvious similar stanzas, different length lines, no obvious rhyme or repeated rhythm. This can be used to suggest a lack of control, lack of harmony.

Look at the way the sequence of ideas builds up in the poem (perhaps through a sequence of images); make a note of the effect of this sequence and the way it builds up towards to create the overall effect and meaning of the poem.

Finally, notice if any particular words and phrases ‘stand out’ in a particularly ‘poetic’ way. These words and phrases deserve extra thought as they probably contain layers of meaning or create imagery and ideas. Maybe the words are ironic or metaphorical? Perhaps they create a vivid image, for example. These effects act to draw you deeper into the world of the poem by engaging your attention – a sure sign that the poem is ‘working’ on you!



The key points about a poem to discuss in any essay are:

the EFFECTS its words, phrases , lines and stanzas create;

the METHODS used to create these effects;

the PURPOSE behind creating such effects.

The key questions to ask of any poem are:

WHAT? – what is it about both on the surface and at different levels of meaning?

WHY? Why was it written?

HOW and WHY? How have the effects been created and why was this done?


Ask yourself…

1. What is ‘your’ poem about generally (e.g. ‘war’) and in particular (e.g. ‘the horror of fighting in trench warfare’).

2. What is your surface meaning (e.g. ‘that soldiers have lost all their pride’) and your attitude towards your subject matter – your deeper layers of meaning (e.g. ‘that the war has gone on too long and the truth of it needs to be told…’)? That is, why did you write this poem? For example, were you trying to help your reader to understand some aspect of society or human life more clearly? Just what was your intention or purpose?

3. What motivated or inspired you to write about such a subject? Is it affected by the context (i.e. the time. place, conditions and situation) in which you live: your beliefs, values and attitudes compared, perhaps, to the general beliefs, attitudes and values of your society or its leaders (i.e. your society’s dominant or prevailing ideologies)?

4. Were there any literary traditions or fashions that affected the form or style in which you wrote? Why was this?

5. What effect did you create using words, their shape sound or meaning, to capture and retain your reader’s attention and interest and, having done this, involve them in your poem?


A poet’s purpose is often also to let you share their feelings and to guide you to see some aspect of the world in a new way. ‘Make it new’ is what a famous poet once said was poetry’s task.

Never forget that whatever the poet’s intentions, he or she is limited by the effects that words can be made to create; and words have just two main qualities that can be used…


and these two aspects of language are combined to create


When you write an essay on a poem, you are aiming to show what the poet wanted to achieve and how the poet tried to create meaning effectively by using these two qualities.


A poem – indeed any written text – can be split into form and content. It is a useful way of considering the effects that are possible using words. You will read below what each term means, but you should realise that – in reality – the two are intimately combined and cannot be truly separated; they are like the two sides of a coin. However, they are a helpful way of looking at the effect words can be used to create meaning.

What is FORM?

Form is the technical word for the look or sound of a text. It refers to such things as the way a poet uses the length of a line, stanza or poem to add to its overall effect and meaning. Playing with shapes and sounds – form – can add extra qualities to the meaning contained in the words themselves. A good poet is an expert at using patterns of shape and sound to help give meaning more subtlety or impact.

Poets use form when they choose to use different lengths of line, stanza and poem or when they cut a sentence up into lines; they also use form when they use patterns of sound such as rhythm (i.e. a repeating sequence of stressed syllables), rhyme (i.e. a repeating sequence of final sounds either within or at the end of lines), alliteration (i.e. a repeating sequence of initial sounds), assonance (a repeating a sequence of internal vowel sounds) and onomatopoeia (a word whose sound suggests its meaning).

Here are some more examples of the way a poet can use the form of words:

sentence style and length, for example, extra short sentences can mimic real speech;

line endings can add emphasis to words within a sentence;

traditional rhythms such as ‘iambic pentameter’ can appear restrained, formal, ‘safe’ or controlled;

pauses can be created between words or lines (‘caesuras’) to add impact;

‘run on lines’ or ‘enjambment’ can add interest and impact;

using traditional forms such as the sonnet can add extra layers of subtle meaning.

What is CONTENT?

The content of a word, phrase or sentence is the meaning it contains. Poets choose their words with precision and place them in careful structures to increase the effect and meaning they need.

Some words and phrases can have more than one layer of meaning (i.e. more than their ‘surface’ or literal meaning). A word’s basic meaning is called its denotation; but in some contexts or uses, the word can take on extra ‘layers of meaning’. These ‘associated meanings’ are called connotations, i.e. what it connotes or suggests. An example, the word ‘rose’ has a literal denotation to a gardener, but in William Blake’s poem ‘The Sick Rose’, it has a variety of interesting, and often symbolic, connotations:

O Rose, thou art sick;

The invisible worm

That flies in the night,

In the howling storm,

Has found out thy bed

Of crimson joy,

And his dark secret love

Does thy life destroy.

Connotation is the lifeblood of poetry. Poets use connotation when they choose words or phrases that ‘paint pictures’ or create a strong image or feeling. The use of metaphor and personification are ideal ways to create strong images. This kind of language is called ‘figurative language’. Another use of connotation is irony. This is when the poet says one thing, but the reader detects that what he or she means is something rather different (sarcasm is a rather offensive or coarse kind of irony intended to hurt someone’s feelings). When a poet uses connotation, the reader becomes naturally more involved with the words of the poem because their mind is caused to do a little extra ‘work’ in finding the meaning and this deepens the effect the poem creates.

What is STYLE?

Style refers to the way a writer chooses suitable and effective language for a particular purpose and audience, as well as to put their own imprint on what they say. Some poets have a particular style which identifies them – William Wordsworth is such a poet, as is William Blake. This aspect of style is often called the poet’s ‘voice’. When you discuss ‘style’, you are looking for and commenting on only the particular choices of words and phrases (which must be something to do with the way they LOOK, SOUND or MEAN) that the poet seems to have made to add to the overall effect or meaning of the poem.



Read the question carefully and highlight its key words or bullet points. Think long and hard about this question and develop a ‘feeling’ for it – a kind of ‘personal conclusion’. Use your essay to tell your teacher or examiner what your feeling or conclusion is and to show what made you reach it. Remember that it was only through the poem itself – the genre of literature and the form of poetry – that you reached your conclusion. So in the essay, you must constantly be referring to how the poet used this genre and this form so effectively to lead you to your feeling or conclusion.

Always open your essay in an interesting and confident way that shows you have understand both the poem and the question. Do this by opening with a succinct overview and avoid – at all costs and at all times in the essay – a simple ‘retelling’ of what happens in the poem. The overview is the key to a good essay so never miss it out – click on the link to find out more.

Think about the title and how the poem opens then work through the ideas of the poem sequentially – perhaps stanza by stanza. Avoid starting half way through or at the end! Use the ideas discussed above to help you do this.

Always consider the impact of the times and situation in which the author lived, thought and wrote. This is called the author’s context: it will be this, at least in part, that has motivated or inspired the author to write such a story. Clearly this is important.

Poets might also be influenced by their context to follow a particular literary fashion or tradition. If so, consider how this has affected the telling and reception of the poem (consider particularly its form, structure and language style in comparison with other more traditional or modern poems you know).

The reader’s context might also be important to consider, including your own of course. Readers from different contexts might interpret the poem differently – make sure to comment on this if different interpretations are likely.

Never make a major point without supporting what you say with direct evidence from the poem itself. To do this use a suitable short quotation and follow this with a close and detailed commentary that discusses the significance of the poet’s choices of language and style in the quotation; this means discussing its effect on the reader and the poet’s purpose in choosing this particular way to express an idea.

Similar topics:

Writing Essay Examples
Cite this page

Think about what kind of 'person' is speaking or telling the poem - the 'poetic voice'. (2020, Jun 02). Retrieved from

Think about what kind of 'person' is speaking or telling the poem - the 'poetic voice'

👋 Hi! I’m your smart assistant Amy!

Don’t know where to start? Type your requirements and I’ll connect you to an academic expert within 3 minutes.

get help with your assignment