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English: poem analysis

Poem analysis

Read the poem below, then answer the questions at the end. I have also recorded a reading of
the poem if you would prefer to also listen to it.
Remember to follow the 3-step method! It will help as you go to answer the questions at the
end; I promise.
1. Read the poem!
• No seriously. Read through the poem once. You don’t know what a poem is about if you
don’t read it.
2. Identify the literal meaning
• What is the poem about? Like, what is the poem lit-er-all-lee talking about?
3. Find the deeper meaning
• Okay. Now that you know what the poem is literally saying, look deeper. Find out what
messages may be hidden in the poem.
• Do this by using/identifying figurative language!
• Do this by looking at the form of the poem!
by Linda Hogan
From water’s broken mirror
we pulled it,
alive and shining,
gasping the painful other element of air.
It was not just fish.
There was more.
It was hawk, once wild with
hunger, sharp talons
locked into the dying twist
and scale of fish,
its long bones
trailing like a ghost
behind fins
through the dark, cold water.
It was beautiful, that water,
like a silver coin stretched thin
enough to feed us all,
smooth as skin before anyone knew
the undertow’s rough hands
lived inside it, working everything down
to its absence,
and water is never lonely;
it holds so many.
It says, come close, you who want to swallow me;
already I am part of you.
Come near. I will shape myself around you
so soft, so calm
I will carry you
down to a world you never knew or dreamed,
I will gather you
into the hands of something stronger,
older, deeper.
1. What is the theme of the poem? Use textual evidence to support your
• A theme is the message about life that the writer wants to communicate. because readers
make inferences to discover a theme, a work may reveal different meanings to different
readers. Your interpretation of a theme will be valid if you base it on evidence from the
• Look at the poem on a literal and figurative level to help you with this.
o For further ideas/help, look at metaphors and similes, images, details, mood,
personification, and even the title of the work. The author has left clues throughout
the whole poem of what she wants you to understand.
2. Interpret and explain what is meant by the lines “and water is never lonely, /
it holds so many.” Support your interpretation with evidence from other lines.
3. What does the water symbolize? Cite evidence to support your answer.
• A symbol is something that stands for or represents something beyond itself.
• Review the descriptions of water in the poem for help/ideas.
4. Consider how the images of water develop throughout the poem, from an
inanimate object to a powerful living force. How does the water change? What
does this add to the meaning of the poem?
• Think about the images used and why the poet used those images–ie. “broken
mirror”, “smooth as skin”, “like a silver coin…”, etc.
5. Look at the plea and promise the water makes at the end of the poem. What
does the water want? What does it offer?
• Hint, this involves some personification. The water speaks to the reader. Think about
why the poet gave the water a voice. Think about why the poet gave water a voice.
You may use your golden rules packet for Figurative Language. You can also talk about the
poem with family and friends to help you get ideas. I want you to each submit your own,
individual work though! You may also ask me if you have questions.
Again, a lot of this is up to you to interpret. The fun part about poetry is that there is no
wrong answer; you just have to back up your ideas with evidence from the text. 🙂 Have fun!
There is a lot you can talk about with this poem. Honestly, I love the caesuras in it. They add
a lot of deeper meaning to the lines. Caesura–now that’s a fun word to look up!