A Simple Poetry Checklist

Here’s a simple checklist for studying a single poem that tries to cover the different aspects that one ‘should’ know about any piece of poetry.

1. Choose a poem.

There’s no shortage, but for our purposes let’s select a fairly short one, Shelley’s ‘Ozymandias’:

I met a traveller from an antique land

Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone

Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,

Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown

And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command

Tell that its sculptor well those passions read

Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,

The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.

And on the pedestal these words appear:

`My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:

Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!'

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay

Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,

The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

2. Look all the words up in a dictionary.