Home   |   TOPIC LIST   |   About   |   Contact

Poem speaker

OK, so the poem is a series of words on a page, but who is ‘speaking’ these words? Is it a person, animal, plant, or some abstract concept such as love or revenge that is speaking? Abstract concepts like love can speak through a poem, for instance, something like:

I have united nations

And rendered them asunder

People seek me but I am elusive

But those I choose cannot escape

If you read this shoddy bit of poetry, you might work out that I am speaking from the perspective of love and what I (as love) have done.

In many poems, ‘I’ is used to identify the speaker. This can be the author of the poem or it can be some other character; for instance, in the poem The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe, the person speaking is a lonely man who misses his lost love Lenore, not Edgar Allan Poe himself. In such cases, where ‘I’ is used but the person speaking the poem is not the author, you might reflect in your analysis on whether aspects of the person speaking are drawn from the author’s own experiences. For instance, you might speculate whether Allan Poe or someone he knew once had a lost love.

You need to analyse what type of voice the poem has and what the attitude is - is it sad, angry, hopeful, depressed, wistful, mischievous? Once you’ve worked out what type of voice it uses, try to think of why the voice has that attitude - is it a sad voice because the poem is about war, perhaps? If so, you can go even further - perhaps the author lost someone close to them in war? Who was it? How does this reveal itself in the poem? Maybe it’s the cheerful voice of someone who has just fallen in love? Who have they fallen in love with? Has it got something to do with the author’s real life experiences or is it purely a fictional story?

What is the point of view of the poem - is it from a descriptive perspective, or an emotional one describing someone’s heartbreak? Once you work out the perspective of the poem you can work out what response the author is trying to elicit (get out) of the reader. Perhaps it is an anti-war poem written from the perspective of someone who has fought and been injured in war. Then you can compare how you feel about the poem with what you think the author was aiming for.