October 29, 2020

How to Write A Poetry Analysis Essay

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The difference between a good poetry analysis essay and a bad one is not too difficult to find. You and I know that the last type of essay you want to write in any Literature test is the bad one.

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So let’s not get negative talking about the things that make a poetry essay terrible. I want us to focus on the positives instead.

Following are the qualities of the best poetry analysis essay for your WASSCE or any other related test.

1. Consistency with the question

One quality of a good poetry essay is that it goes according to the exact demands of the topic or question.

For example, when a WASSCE Literature question on poetry asks

Comment on the theme of violence in The Dining Table,

The entire poetry analysis essay must be about violence in the poem The Dining Table only.

Nowhere should you try to introduce another theme like reconciliation or anarchy.

It goes without saying, therefore, that you must constantly mention or refer to this issue right from the beginning to the end of the poetry analysis essay. This is what keeps you on track.

Another example:

What aspects of Lade Wosornu’s Raider of the Treasure Trove make it an inspirational poem?

Here, too, all your writing must be directly or indirectly linked to the fact that this is an inspirational poem.

Anything to the contrary, anywhere along the way, will destroy the beauty of your otherwise good poetry essay.


Raider of the Treasure trove is all about life choices. Comment.

More likely WASSCE/NECO poetry questions

Identify the poet’s concerns in The Song of the Women of My Land.

Look at this one too:

Discuss the use of contrast in Journey of the Magi

And …:

Examine the poet’s treatment of ageing in The Panic of Growing Older.


John Donne’s The Good Morrow is a metaphysical poem. Comment.

Please note: The issues that must dominate your super powerful poetry essay on each of the above most likely WASSCE poetry questions are in bold lettering.

2. Identification of relevant poetic devices.

Note the word RELEVANT. In every poem, there are many poetic devices. So it is your duty to select a couple of those relevant to the essay you want to write.

Do not stop there, though. Because almost every candidate will know the poetic devices in a poem. But few can properly link the devices to the ideas expressed in the poem. And this is what matters to your examiner.

This takes us to our next vital aspect of your awesome poetry analysis essay.

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3. Show the significance of the poetic devices

Describe how the devices help to advance or support the central idea in your essay.

For instance, is that metaphor you’ve identified helping to portray the issue you’re looking at? If so, say so very clearly.

Remember, it is not enough to just point out the fact that the poet has employed this or that poetic device or figure of speech.

4. Leave the biography stuff out

It is a common but unacceptable practice to start your literature essay with a long paragraph devoted to the author’s life history.

You should rather spend your precious time writing about what the question is asking from you.

5. An assessment of the issues

Finally, it is important to make a brief statement on the extent to which the poet has succeeded in treating that particular topic or idea.

No, it is not like you should sit in judgement over the poet’s performance.

Your honest opinion about the way you think the poem has made the right impression on you (with regard to the central point of your essay) is necessary.

Last word

As you can see, it is not all that difficult writing a masterpiece of a poetry analysis essay. And it can get amazingly easy if only you’ve studied the poem thoroughly in advance.

When you are in possession of a couple of examples of poetic devices in the said poem writing a good poetry analysis essay guided by the above points can truly be a breeze.

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Ralph Nyadzi

Ralph has a passion for the teaching and learning of Language and Literature mainly because these two help him to understand and appreciate why people act the way they do. Over the past two decades, he has coached over 5000 students and adult learners to achieve their educational goals. Ralph is the founder and CEO of Cegast Academy.

View all posts by Ralph Nyadzi →

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