The title may give you some image or association to start with.
You can also see whether it looks like the last poem you read by the same poet or even a poem by another poet. Is there a cluster of sounds that seem the same or similar?
All of these are good qualities to notice, and they may lead you to a better understanding of the poem in the end. Listen to your voice, to the sounds the words make. Is there a section of the poem that seems to have a rhythm that’s distinct from the rest of the poem?
but you got to try hard—Williams admits in these lines that poetry is often difficult.
He also suggests that a poet depends on the effort of a reader; somehow, a reader must "complete" what the poet has begun.
Reading a Poem Aloud Before you get very far with a poem, you have to read it.
In fact, you can learn quite a few things just by looking at it.
The first is assuming that they should understand what they encounter on the first reading, and if they don’t, that something is wrong with them or with the poem.
The second is assuming that the poem is a kind of code, that each detail corresponds to one, and only one, thing, and unless they can crack this code, they’ve missed the point.
This technique often introduces secondary meaning, sometimes in ironic contrast with the actual meaning of the complete grammatical phrase.
Consider these lines from Creeley’s poem "The Language": Locate I love you some- where in teeth and eyes, bite it but Reading the lines as written, as opposed to their grammatical relationship, yields some strange meanings.