Interpretations

Word cloud of keywords and phrases from the poem Letters from Yorkshire

Interpreting and analysing a poem is not necessarily a matter of finding the right answer.

Poems are complex creations and are open to many different interpretations. Your interpretation is as valid as anyone else's - as long as you can back it up with suitable evidence from the text.

Remember to avoid simply identifying what techniques or approaches poets use. Aim to show an understanding of how form, language and structure create meanings and effects.

Below are some differing interpretations of the poem. How would you interpret the poem?

Examples

Interpretation of the whole poem

InterpretationReason for interpretation
The speaker is happy and content with her life and with the relationship she has with the letter writer.Communication is mutual - 'our souls tap out messages' and defeats the 'icy miles' that separate them. Question about whose life is more real is not answered.
The speaker regrets that she is so preoccupied with work. She wonders whether her life could be better in Yorkshire.The line 'heartful of headlines' suggests she is spending too much time on demanding and impersonal work, 'feeding words onto a blank screen'. Though the question is not answered, the implication is that her life is without purpose and his life is 'more real'.

Interpretation of the line: 'It's not romance, simply how things are.'

InterpretationReason for interpretation
The speaker doesn't think about the man's life being perfect.The word 'romance' refers to sentiment - the speaker does not have an ideal or romanticised view of his life working on his land and just sees that it is different to her own.
The speaker is showing that this is not a romantic relationship.Although the poem does not reveal who the man is, this line indicates that it is not about a romance between the speaker and the man she is writing to in the poem.