5 poetic elements (theme, form, structure, language, rhythm) to think about when comparing poems

You can discover a lot about a poem by comparing it to one by another poet that deals with a similar subject or has a similar theme.

Thinking about two poems and identifying where they differ and are similar can give you a deeper appreciation and understanding of them. You should not be thinking about whether one poem is better than another, but about the ways in which the poets have approached their subject matter.

Things to consider

  • Themes - are both poems about similar issues or themes?
  • Attitudes - are the poets expressing similar or different attitudes to their themes?
  • Form - are the poems written in a clearly recognisable form or not?
  • Structure – how have the poets chosen to set out the poem and its stanza(s) on the page?
  • Language - are there striking features of language (like phrases or lines that stand out) in each poem?
  • Rhythm and rhyme - do the poets use rhythm or rhyme schemes in the same way?
When analysing a poem, try to identify more than just what techniques are being used by the poet. Look at ways in which the use of form, structure and language link to the meaning and effect of the poem/s.