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Annotating

Poetry
A How-To
Guide For
Students!

Poetry Annotation
Teacher Instructions
Pass out the blank poem and tell students they
will be annotating this poem. Give them some
time to read through the poem.
Pass out the How to Annotate A Poem
Instruction Sheet Go through the
presentation, showing students how to follow
the 7 steps of annotation.
After each slide, have students annotate the
poem to the best of their ability based on the
instruction sheet provided.
After they have finished all of the 7 steps, pass
out the Poetry Annotation sheet so they can
compare their annotation to the model. Ask
them to go through and add some information
based on the model.
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How To Annotate A Poem


I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud
By William Wordsworth
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
...
The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed--and gazed--but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

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How To Annotate A Poem Instructions


STEP 1: Reflect on the Poems Title
Consider whether the title is important to the meaning of the poem. Why do you think the
author chose this title?
STEP 2: Clarify
Spend time clarifying those things you do not understand. Underline the words you do not
know and find the meanings for the words (or synonyms). Jot those down somewhere
near the term and put them in brackets. If there are lines you dont understand, put a
beside them and see if they become more clear as you continue to annotate.

STEP 3: Summarize & Paraphrase


Read through the poem and write your understanding of what is happening along the side
of each stanza. You are basically summarizing the basic sense of the poem. Consider the
following questions: Who is speaking? To whom? About what? For what purpose? When
and where? Consider the tone of the poem. At this point, those confusing lines from step 2
may be more clear!
STEP 4: Literary Devices
Now that you have an understanding of what is happening in the poem, you should be
underlining or highlighting any uses of figurative language or literary devices. Some examples
of these may include metaphor, simile, imagery, personification, hyperbole, oxymoron,
allusion, alliteration etc. Color coding these may be useful for you. You may also comment on
why you think the author chose to use this, or what it does to enhance the poem.
STEP 5: Poetic Form
The form of the poem can also play an important role in the meaning. Go through the
poem and label the rhyme scheme beside the lines (or write a form section at the bottom of
the page) and the meter (rhythm). Also check to see if there is anything significant to
mention about the way the poem looks on the page (punctuation, shape, line length).
STEP 6: Interpretation (Theme)
After you have done steps 1-5, consider the reason that the poet wrote this poem. What
does he/she want you to think about? What message are they trying to send? Explain this
theme along the bottom of the page.
STEP 7: Finishing Touches
If there is anything else that stands out to you as important, or something that you were
thinking about while reading, make annotations along the side! Dont feel tied to these
steps. If you think of something interesting, write it down!
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Poetry Annotation
I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud
By William Wordsworth

The title suggests that nature will


play an important role in the poem.
Also the use of simile in the title
connects well with the consistent use
of comparisons in the poem.

Simile comparing the


way the speaker walks to
(Valleys) the movement of a cloud

The poem begins


with the speaker A
walking aimlessly B
somewhere natural
A
(park/field). He
comes across many B
daffodils moving
beautifully beside the C
lake. The compares
their movements to C
dance.

I wandered lonely as a cloud


That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
...

The waves are


A
moving, but the poet
does not think the B
water is as beautiful
as the flowers. As a A
poet he can
B
appreciate the beauty.
He didnt realize how C
much the beautiful
image impacted him C
at the time.

The waves beside them danced; but they


Out-did the sparkling waves in glee: Personification: waves given
human action of dancing,
A poet could not but be gay,(Happy)
Waves also described with
human emotion (glee).
In such a jocund company:(Cheerful)
I gazed--and gazed--but little thought
Not appreciating
something
in the moment
What wealth the show to me had brought:

Personification
comparing the movement
of the flowers to dancing

(Often)

When the poet is alone A


and daydreaming, he B
thinks of that beautiful
day and it makes him A
happy. He thinks this is
B
the best part of being
alone with your
C
thoughts. He is
transported back to that C
time and is happy again.

A cloud moves aimlessly


and without destination.
Perhaps the poet wanted
to be inspired to write!

For oft, when on my couch I lie


In vacant or in (Thoughtful)
pensive mood,
Inward eye could be a
They flash upon that inward eye
symbol for the soul.
Which is the bliss of solitude;
(Being alone)
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
Personification plays an
And dances with the daffodils.
important role in this poem.

This poem has a regular ABABCC rhyme scheme. It also follows a


regular iambic tetrameter rhythm (U / U / U / U /).

Nature takes on human


characteristics. This is
common in Romantic poetry

Wordsworth was a Romantic poet who was inspired by nature. This poem celebrates this inspiration through
the personification of the daffodils and the water/waves. One of the themes explored in this poem is the power
of memory. The poet believes the scene is beautiful, but he is unable to fully appreciate it until he is alone, and
it has left a lasting and powerful memory(stanza 3). Also important in this poem is poetic inspiration.
Wordsworth has found inspiration in nature and expresses this inspiration through writing.
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