Home » Poetics » Understanding Poetry: Step 5

Understanding Poetry: Step 5

So, you are reading the poem, aware that a line is not necessarily a sentence – which is a complete thought.

If the line turns, you are still following the sentence,

Aware that many – but not all – poets capitalize

The first letter

Of the next line, and

That the sentence will stop. It might stop at any point

In the line. You follow the sentence,

Understand it

And when you comprehend the first.

You go to the second, understanding that and how

The first sentence informs the second and

The second the first,

Then you’re getting the verse! Get me?

Reading a sense poem is much the same as reading a paragraph, except the poet is going to dance the language; he or she will turn the line, slip in time, add color, shift from the literal to the figurative. It’s a mental challenge: are you up for it?

For the scholar-athlete or warrior-poet, explain that reading poetry is a sort of mental negotiation of an obstacle.


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