How to Write a Critical Thinking Essay in Poetry Even If You Are Far From Romantic

Writing guide
Posted on June 2, 2020

Poetry is the language of feelings, symbols, emotions, experiences, and of course, literary elements. All this you have to criticize in your critical essay on poetry. To some extent, a critical essay has a bit in common with an analytical essay on poetry, but in this case, you will have to not only analyze but also give a critical assessment. In this article, we talk about how to do it right.

How to Write a Critical Thinking Essay in Poetry – Start from the Right Poem

This is just the case when most likely you can choose a poetic work yourself. And this is really your trump card. However, do not forget that your essay is a critical paper, and criticism is sometimes very harsh. But this is not your case. In order to get a good mark, your criticism must be substantiated first of all. And in order not to accidentally start criticizing too sharply, we recommend that you choose a work that you really like, that you understand from the inside and you have something to say about it. Plus, it is very hard to work when the task causes a feeling of rejection.

Therefore, choose one of your favorite works – it will be easier for you to begin work on the essay and you will not risk slipping to harsh criticism, but will strive for maximum justification so as not to offend your favorite poet.

A Few Poems That Suit Any Student

If you are far from poetry and prefer other literary genres, then the choice of a poem can be quite challenging. Therefore, taking into account the fact that it is difficult for you to comprehend a poetic language, you need to find a work that would evoke even the slightest internal response. Below we have collected several universal works that are suitable for any student.

Note! The poet and work that you choose does not have to be written in English, initially. If you are a foreign student, then no one forbids you to choose the work of a poet who comes from your country. The main thing is that the work has a good translation into English so that your professor and classmates can read it and understand it.

Plan Your Time and Ask the Right Questions to Yourself

If you have chosen your favorite work, then most likely you know it by heart, and already this will save you a certain amount of time. However, this does not mean that you can leave this task for the last night. Even if you are confident in your abilities, it will still be wise to give yourself enough time to relieve yourself of stress in a hurry. Here is what you need to do.

  • Read the work again and imagine that you are seeing it for the first time. Try to look at the poem with new eyes. Read aloud and pay attention to punctuation and strong accents.
  • Pay attention to the heroes of the poem, their characters.
  • Emphasize symbols, allegories, comparisons, hyperbolas, and other literary devices that the author uses.
  • Is the poem logical? If the author starts the story from the middle and then goes to the point, is there any sense in this?
  • What feelings does the poem cause for you personally? What do you think, what feelings could it cause in other people?

After you have answered all these questions, you can already look at the poetic work with different eyes. Now you need to form a holistic picture, find strengths and weaknesses and argue your point of view.

The Most Difficult Thing You May Face

The most important thing you need to know about a critical essay on poetry is that the perception of poetry is extremely subjective. Like your criticism. There can be no consensus that suits everyone. But there may be arguments that you prove with the help of examples, and your inner beliefs. And there is good news – you can rely on scientific materials.

How to Support Your Criticism of Poetry with Scientific Material

So, in this case, the phrases “I think so”, “It seems to me” or “I feel this way” are not suitable for your critical essay. In the best case, they are suitable for an essay of personal opinion, but even then, you will have to prove it with something, apart from your personal experience. Therefore, in the case of a critical essay on poetry, let’s rely on scientific materials and criticism, which has already been written before you.

Of course, your poetic work is your source. However, this is not enough. You need to research scientific articles that will explore your poem. And by the way, pay attention to this moment when you choose a poetic work. It is better to take something popular in order to be able to find enough scientific support. In addition, it would also be good to immediately tell the teacher and your classmates which poem you chose to avoid repetition, although if you can choose a topic for yourself, the professor is unlikely to lower your rating because someone chose the same poem as you.
But let’s get back to our sources. As we said, you do not need to worry about the publication date of the article you will rely on – the work that you will analyze and criticize is static, which means that any information on the topic will suit you. The easiest way to find suitable sources is a Google search query “poem title author criticism pdf analysis”. Next, you need to look through each article and make notes on the next items. Be sure to mention the author, article title, page, and the main idea regarding of each of the following points:

  • Style analysis;
  • Analysis of literary techniques (symbols, allegories, comparisons, hyperbole);
  • Analysis of Heroes;
  • Rhyme Analysis;
  • Analysis of the realities of the time of the creation of the work;
  • Analysis of the main idea from an ethical point of view.

Now you need to once again return to the main points of the analysis and pay attention to how each author points out the strongest and weakest points of your work and make notes for yourself. After that, you can proceed to write the essay itself.

Let’s Proceed to Writing

After you have analyzed all the sources, and already have some idea of what you can say in your critical essay, it’s time to move on to direct writing. We will describe the structure of your essay in the correct and logical order, but keep in mind that no one forbids you to write from the place from which the stream of your thoughts begins. Later you can edit the final paper, revise your structure and make the essay as logical as possible.


We recommend writing an introduction last. Having a ready-made text makes it much easier for you to collect all thoughts together and create an interesting beginning to the essay. For example, you can start with the strongest and most memorable quote from your poetic work, and it will be just perfect if you manage to link this quote with your thesis statement. This will make the thesis even stronger.


We recommend that you leave your thesis for later as well. It will be much easier for you to build on the opposite and develop a thesis when the bulk of your essay is ready. Plus, you can always tweak the main part a little according to your thesis.

In order to develop your thesis, look at your already finished main part and write down the main idea of each paragraph briefly. Now try to combine these thoughts into two maximally clear sentences. After that, make another effort and create one strong sentence that will cover your argument and the basis for criticizing a particular poetic work.

The Body

  1. The first paragraph is an analysis of the poem as a whole. Here you can briefly say about the author, the name of the work, the time of its creation and place in the world literature or literature of a particular country.
  2. The second paragraph is an analysis of style. Next, go to the style of the work. Define the poetic style in which the work is written, pay attention to rhyme. How does rhyme fit together? Did the author manage to choose the most correct words so that the rhyme was perfect, or some lines are lame? How does the style of this particular poem relate to the personal style of the author, perhaps in this poem he decided to try out non-standard approaches? Identify the strengths and weaknesses of the style of the poem and argue why you consider the particular feature strong or weak, based on the opinions from the scientific literature that you worked out.
  3. The third paragraph is an analysis of literary devices. Here you need to determine how skillfully the author copes with literary techniques – how appropriate is he using comparisons, hyperbolas, symbols, and how appropriate do they sound in the context of this poem? Perhaps some of the literary devices worsen the perception of the poem, tell about it in the essay and argue your decision. Or, maybe, on the contrary, you, relying on scientific sources, came to the conclusion that all literary devices are in place and chosen correctly – and in this case too, you need to argue your opinion.
  4. The fourth paragraph is an analysis of the characteristics of perception. In this section, you need to look at the poetic work holistically and describe how it is perceived by the reader. Perhaps it is difficult to perceive and requires a detailed analysis of the author’s life, the era of his life in order to understand all the subtleties of the creator’s ideas and especially the choice of words. Or, it can be the other way around – a poetic work can be very easy to read, understand and perceive. Here you can build on your opinions, as well as provide the opinions of other researchers which will be strong supporting arguments for your personal one.
  5. The fifth paragraph is strong points. In this section, you need to once again return to the strong points of your poetic work. This paragraph should summarize all the good that you can say about the work.
  6. Sixth paragraph – weaknesses. By analogy, here you need to once again briefly point out the weak points of your poem and add a brief argument.
    We can say that these two paragraphs are like a logical transition to the conclusion of your essay.


Here you need to briefly repeat the main idea from each of your paragraphs. Try not to write anything new – just remind the reader of what you have already mentioned in your paper.

The Last Step

Now you just have to check your essay for the presence of grammatical and lexical errors, once again review your structure and make sure that your thoughts are arranged in a logical order, plus make sure that your essay is original. To do this, be sure to check the correctness of the design of your quotes according to the academic style – this applies to both quotes from scientific sources and quotes from the poetic work itself.

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