Understanding Poetry by Dr. J. Evans Pritchard PhD.
To fully understand poetry we must first be fluent with it’s meter, rhyme, and figures of speech. Then ask two questions:
1) How artfully have the objectives of the poem been rendered?
2) How important is that objective?
Question 1 rates the poems perfection. Question 2 rates it’s importance. Once these questions have been answered determining the poem’s greatness becomes a relatively simple matter.
If the poem’s score for perfection is plotted on the horizontal of a graph, and it’s importance is plotted on the vertical, then calculating the total area of the poem yields the measure of it’s greatness.
A sonnet by Byron might score high on the vertical, but only average on the horizontal. A Shakespearian sonnet on the other hand, would score high both horizontally and vertically yielding a massive total area, thereby revealing the poem to be truly great. As you proceed through the poetry in this book, practice this rating method. As your ability to evaluate poems in this manner grows, so will your enjoyment and understanding of poetry.