Context

The context in which a poem was written can sometimes tell you more about its themes, message and meaning.

Some questions you might ask include:

  • are aspects of the poet's life reflected in the poem?
  • is the time or place in which it was written reflected in the poem?

You will need to research the poet’s background to discover answers to these questions. But if you do write about a poem and its context, be careful to include only details that reveal something about the poem.

Context of 'Cozy Apologia'

Writer of Cozy Apologia, Rita Dove
It is suggested that Rita Dove wrote ‘Cozy Apologia’ as a tribute to her husband

American poet, Rita Dove is married to fellow-writer Fred Viebahn and Cozy Apologia seems to be an affectionate tribute to him. The poem notes details of a couple's domestic life as writers, 'Twin desks, computers, hardwood floors'. It is set against the arrival of Hurricane Floyd, a powerful storm which hit the east coast of the USA in 1999. This factual, real-life context supports the idea this is an autobiographical poem.

More about commenting on context.