Reading Questions for Poetry

When reading poetry, particularly a new and difficult poem, you might need a bit of help accessing it. Consider the following questions as guides for beginning to understand poetry. Answers to these questions can be used as the basis of classroom or forum discussions.

  1. What do you know about speaker of this poem?
  2. Describe what is happening. What is the poem’s central idea?
  3. What is the dominant tone or mood of the poem? How is it achieved?
  4. How would you describe the language of this poem?
  5. What words or phrases in the poem do you find especially effective?
  6. List some examples of figurative language (similes, metaphors, personification, metonymy). How do these devices relate to the theme of the poem?
  7. Does the poem include hyperbole, irony, or understatement? Give examples.
  8. Are there any meaningful sound repetitions?
  9. How would you identify the poem’s meter and rhyme scheme(s)?

You can also download a PDF worksheet of this document.