How to Write About Poetry

A Pocket Guide

by Brendan Cooper (Author)
©2019 Textbook VIII, 76 Pages


When secondary school or university students are asked what they find hardest about studying English, the most popular answer by far is poetry. This book is the first poetry analysis guide intended for all candidates studying English at secondary and university levels. Importantly, it is a «pocket guide» – concise and accessible. This means that all students will be able to find it useful, whether they happen to be struggling in the subject or trying to secure their own top-grade performance. The guide is organised into five short, reader-friendly chapters: an introduction, «Why is Poetry Difficult?», «What do Poems Mean?», «The Challenge of Poetic Form», and «How to Write an Essay on a Poem». Each of these chapters challenges particular misunderstandings about poetry while presenting some clear, practical strategies for how to analyse poems.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author(s)/editor(s)
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Acknowledgements
  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1 Why Is Poetry Difficult?
  • Chapter 2 What Do Poems Mean?
  • Chapter 3 The Challenge of Poetic Form
  • Chapter 4 How to Write an Essay on a Poem
  • Glossary
  • Bibliography
  • Index

| vii →


Many thanks to Faber & Faber for granting me permission to publish “The Forge” by Seamus Heaney in its entirety.

All fires of poetry need to be lit. I would like deeply to thank three inspirational teachers, Julie Bufton, Lindsay Gibbon, and Nick Gleeson, for lighting mine over twenty years ago.

This book is dedicated to my parents, my wife Nouska, and my two daughters, Manon and Hermione: the most precious of poems.

| 1 →



VIII, 76
ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2019 (March)
study guide essay guide writing about poetry poetry A Pocket Guide How to Write About Poetry Brendan Cooper Willliam Blake William Wordsworth writing guide Emily Dickinson Maya Angelou Lord Byron John Keats Wilfred Owens Grace Nichols John Donne Elizabeth Barrett Browning William Shakespeare Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, New York, Wien, 2019. VIII, 76 pp.

Biographical notes

Brendan Cooper (Author)

Brendan Cooper studied at Downing College, Cambridge, where he also completed a PhD in English. He has published widely on British and American literature, including Dark Airs: John Berryman and the Spiritual Politics of Cold War American Poetry (2009) and William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and of Experience: A Student’s Guide (2017). He is presently Head of English at Eton College.


Title: How to Write About Poetry
book preview page numper 1
book preview page numper 2
book preview page numper 3
book preview page numper 4
book preview page numper 5
book preview page numper 6
book preview page numper 7
book preview page numper 8
book preview page numper 9
book preview page numper 10
book preview page numper 11
book preview page numper 12
book preview page numper 13
book preview page numper 14
book preview page numper 15
book preview page numper 16
book preview page numper 17
86 pages