Reading a Poem Aloud Before you get very far with a poem, you have to read it.
You can also see whether it looks like the last poem you read by the same poet or even a poem by another poet. Is there a cluster of sounds that seem the same or similar?
All of these are good qualities to notice, and they may lead you to a better understanding of the poem in the end. Listen to your voice, to the sounds the words make. Is there a section of the poem that seems to have a rhythm that’s distinct from the rest of the poem?
But sooner or later, you’re going to have to read the poem, word by word. Don’t worry about why the poem might use these effects. If you find your own voice distracting, have a friend read the poem to you.
That said, it can still be uncomfortable to read aloud or to make more than one pass through a poem. The Line What determines where a line stops in poetry?
This technique often introduces secondary meaning, sometimes in ironic contrast with the actual meaning of the complete grammatical phrase.
Consider these lines from Creeley’s poem "The Language": Locate I love you some- where in teeth and eyes, bite it but Reading the lines as written, as opposed to their grammatical relationship, yields some strange meanings.
Successful poems welcome you in, revealing ideas that may not have been foremost in the writer’s mind in the moment of composition.
The best poetry has a magical quality—a sense of being more than the sum of its parts—and even when it’s impossible to articulate this sense, this something more, the power of the poem is left undiminished. Though their forms may not always be direct or narrative, keep in mind that a real person formed the moment of the poem, and it’s wise to seek an understanding of that moment.
Some of this attitude comes from the misconception that we should understand a poem after we first read it, while some stems from sheer embarrassment. There is, of course, more than one answer to this question. The relationship between meaning, sound, and movement intended by the poet is sometimes hard to recognize, but there is an interplay between the grammar of a line, the breath of a line, and the way lines are broken out in the poem—this is called lineation.
Lines are often determined by meaning, sound and rhythm, breath, or typography. For example, lines that end with punctuation, called end-stopped lines, are fairly simple.