- Who wrote the poem
- What country and time period was this poem written in?
- Does the poem come before/during/after a significant historical event? If so, research that event.
- Is there a repeated word in the poem or passage that is of significance? Why?
- What do each of the main words of the passage mean? Use the OED if you have access to it as it will help you tremendously.
- Who is the speaker?
- What is the speaker referencing?
- What is the tone?
- Evaluate the potential themes, but don't get wrapped up in them.
- Evaluate meter.
- Evaluate the use of senses.
When I evaluate a poem, I generally do not bring external scholarly references into my thoughts. The only things that I do research are the author's life/culture/country of origin, historical periods, and the meaning of each word. Yes, I look up each word that is not a pronoun or article.
BUT! You must read those pronouns and articles with care. Look at William Carlos Williams in Spring and All. His pronouns and articles are imperative to the understanding.
Books About Close Reading Poetry