Reading Between Lines: Making Sense of Poetry

a photo of brion hanks’ poetry

Unlike novels, where readers can take words at face value, making sense of poetry involves breaking phrases down and looking at them through a unique lens.

Poetry is said to be good for the soul. However, making sense of poetry can surely be bad for one’s brain due to its complexity and means of delivery.

By its definition, poetry is a literary work that focuses on the expression of opinions and feelings through distinctive composition and a sense of rhythm. Poems are more expressive or decorated than other written forms that center on straightforward narratives. They’re typically a play with words and expressions to share an experience or evoke an imaginative awareness of emotional response through sound and rhythm. Poems are a multisensory experience. They’re written with descriptive imagery and figurative language that appeals to the readers’ senses.

With all of these elements combined to make up alluring stanzas, writing poetry is challenging, but making sense of poetry is even more exhausting. This can make one wonder how poetry is made and what it takes to make one a poet.

Can Everyone Be Poets?

Above is a poem written by Brion K. Hanks. It’s one he’s written among other pieces about life, love, and loving life – basically, poetry about anything under the sun. A lot can be derived from this piece alone. Depending on who’s reading it, this single poem can convey a lot of things and carry different lessons, from a sense of understanding an aspect of life to the urge to reflect on the lives they’ve lived.

Mr. Hanks is a writer that has completely and perfectly grasped the concept of poetry. If readers take the time to scan through his short works, especially his poetry book for all ages, they’ll be entertained and enlightened. Using fluid and descriptive language, Brion K. Hanks presents different perspectives of mundane thoughts.

While his collection of pieces might make writing poetry seem easy, it isn’t.

Everyone is born a poet, but not everyone can popularly and effectively become one. Writers who dabble in poetry must be extra conscious and deliberate in paying attention to language, its usage, and how to weave it into the world around them beautifully. They would need a solid mastery of the language and a rich availability of vocabulary to help them reflect comprehensible and fascinating imagery in their words.

Breaking Down Poetry

“Who would envy such sad, sad souls
That seek escape from themselves?”
– Brion K. Hanks

When it comes to their composition, some poems are straightforward. Authors use simple terms and explicit imagery outside their unique lyrical element and uniformly calculated lines. In the example above, the meaning can easily be extracted due to the simplicity of Mr. Hanks’ language. He’s conveyed how people often desire to slip away from themselves and that there’s no absolute and appropriate reason others would be jealous of this.

On the other hand, other authors are more eloquent. They go above and beyond in conveying a story in their poetry. Instead of sticking to the painless route, they use intense words and figurative expressions. While these factors make poems more captivating and moving, they can make it harder for readers to enjoy and genuinely understand the underlying messages poets wish to deliver. Poetry analysis isn’t a necessary process. But in making sense of poetry, people will find a more profound sense of life and the true beauty of this literary form.

Making Sense of Poetry

In understanding the limitless possible meanings of a poem, readers must not only break the piece down into different parts. It should also analyze the other words and the whole piece’s implied meaning.

Read the Poem Aloud

With its lyrical element, poetry might be designed for loud reading. Hence, people benefit more from making sense of poetry if the poem is read aloud. This allows them to listen to how the syllables and phrasing shape the rhythm.

Notice the Emotion

After reading poems aloud, people should already be able to understand how they feel afterward. The poem’s mood can reflect the message its author wants to convey. If people were to look into the meaning of poetry, they could tap into what tone the poem invokes.

Scan the Poem

Often, the whole can be a clearer bearer of a message than its parts. Instead of breaking it down into different parts, it might mean more if the whole context is considered. Before digging deeper into the poem, readers can breeze through the entire paragraph once, look at the context and try coming up with the message. If this step fails to clarify the message, readers can paraphrase each line. This means interpreting the meaning by summarizing each part of the poem. Once this process is done, readers can re-read their words and attempt to grasp the meaning.

If you want to know more about the healing power of poetry, please visit