Introduction to Gillian Clarke Poems in the AQA Anthology
How to Read a Poem for Content, Form and Language
by Gillian Clarke
Do think of a poem as a little story. Read it out loud in your head. Work it out for yourself. Every word counts. The whole meaning lies in the words. Sometimes layers of meaning come through slowly. No one, not even the poet, sees every possible meaning in a word or phrase all at once. Bring your own experience and response to understanding a poem.
Don’t invent what you can’t prove by quotation. Don’t jump to conclusions before you’ve read every word and worked it out. Don’t assume the poem is the poet’s own life story. Poems are made from experience, imagination, a love of language, and a lot of creative energy.