Analyzing an Unseen Poem Using TWISTUP Method

Analyzing a poem needs some patience and the ability of close reading of the given text. Most students ask the question that: “Is there a method to follow in analysing an unseen poem?” Yes, there are some fixed methods which you can adapt according to the text and your level as well as the time allocation that you are given in the exam. In this post we are going to discuss the popular TWISTUP method to analyze unseen poetry.

Before analyzing any poetry, we have some suggestions for you: First read the poem aloud, (if you are in an exam hall, you may keep the sound low) which will help you to understand the meaning and the stylistic devices like rhyme, meter, internal rhyme and tone. Do not forget to read with a pencil and highlighters. If you can have three or four highlighters of different colors, that would be helpful to you. While you read mark the TWISTUP points you find in the poem and if you have any comment regarding them, write them using your pencil. This will be really helpful for you when it comes to writing the answer.

You can watch the video on how to analyze a poem using this method with an example poem from year 2018 G.C.E (A/L) past paper. First we recommend you to go through the post to get an idea of the method.

What is TWISTUP Method?

TWISTUP stand for the first letters of certain terms in analyzing poetry. Let us identify what they are:  

T stands for Title which will be the first key to open the main door of the poem’s meaning.

W stands for words. The words that stand out in the lines which are the choice words of the poet to transfer specific ideas and messages through the poem.

I stands for imagery which evoked through figurative language like simile, metaphor and etc. They create various images which help reader to feel the poetry through senses.

S stands for structure and form. Here the syntactic devices like rhyme scheme, voice, rhythm, meter, line length…etc are considered to unwrap the meaning of the poem.

T stands for the theme/s and tone. That means the key idea of the poem and how it is demonstrated in the poem.

U stands for your personal or emotional reaction on the poem. like: What would you feel after reading the poem? and what is your stand?

P stands for what are the other poetic devices that bring out the central idea of the poem and how it is conveyed through the devices.


In this post, we are not going to introduce what are those poetic terms. The aim of this post to introduce you the way to deal with the unseen poetry. We believe that you have the knowledge of the terms discussed. If you have any doubt about terms you can find a dictionary, google them or read our following posts related to figurative language:

Top 10 figures of speech that you should know

Ten figuresof speech that you should not miss



We all know that title is the best summary of a poem. Title normally says what the poem is about. Try to find whether there are any poetic devices here and think why the poet has used them in the poem.


When you are reading through the poem, highlight the words which stand out from others which you feel or see odd, or occur according to a pattern or seemingly specific and whatever it is. Try to spot specific words (mostly nouns and verbs) Here, we do not look for technique words. We have to focus on the underlying meaning of the words and why does the poet has used them and what is the effect of them on the poem.


Imagery is created by figurative language. Through correct analysis of imagery, the reader can not only understand the poem but also feel it through five senses.

Structure and form

Structure and for is the visual, systematic and logical presentation of texts in order to achieve certain effects to convey the message throughout the poem. Most of the times through the correct analysis of structure and form itself, you will be able to unwrap the meaning of the poem. Therefore, this is a very important checkpoint in your analysis.

Your Personal View

After following first few steps, you will be able to get a better understanding about the poem. Now it is the time to express what you feel and understand about the mystery you are unwrapping. However, you have to present your idea with concrete evidences from the text. That means you cannot just make assumptions on your own. Do not use emotionally charged words to pour your personal ideas about the poem.

Other Poetic Devices

We have almost covered everything. However, you can introduce the other poetic devices you found and their relevance to support the major theme or idea of the poem. Discuss how effectively the poet has used them in the poem.

Now it is time for you to write the answer. If you want some guidance with them, read following posts regarding them:

How to write a better answer for poetry in exam.

The must checklist after writing an answer.

You can watch the example video on how to use the TWISTUP method in action. Remember, to unwrap the idea of poetry, it needs a bit of practice. Once you go through few poems, you will find your own way to deal with the text you are given. Hope, this post is useful to you. If you have any questions, or something to add to our post, please be kind enough to comment below. Share if you find this article useful to you. Also, you can subscribe to the blog to receive new post to your mailbox.    


Post a Comment