Tone in Poetry


How am I supposed to know what the tone of a poem is?  For example, I am asked to identify the tone in Wordsworth’s “The Tables Turned.”


Good question – tone can be tricky, but it is important.  Since poetry is, after all, meant to be read out loud, I highly recommend starting your analyzation by reading the poem out loud.  What do you notice?  Is the language is the poem positive (happy, romantic, excited, etc.) or more negative (sad, fearful, heartbroken, angry)?  In “The Tables Turned,” you will notice repetition of the term, “Up!” in the first stanza, which is immediately indicative that the poet is trying to get the reader’s attention in an upbeat matter.  What do you notice about the rest of the stanzas?  Based on my interpretation, I would say that Wordsworth is maintaining a positive tone throughout the poem; and in the last few stanzas, he does become very sentimental about the importance of nature and love.