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Close Reading: How to Read a Poem

Some tips for the close reading of poetry

‘Close reading’ is not as straightforward as it may appear. Many readers of poetry, for instance, may have encountered ‘close readings’ of poems which are anything but. They’re not so much ‘close’ as ‘at arm’s length’. How do you close-read a poem? F. R. Leavis was one of the most influential literary critics writing in English in the twentieth century. Yet he often claimed he was performing a ‘close reading’ of a poem which was actually, at best, a sort of flirtatious dalliance with the words and meaning of the text. Read the rest of this entry