- What is the temporal structure of the poem? Does it take place in one time (the present, the past, the future) or does it move back and forth between times?
- Does it present single actions in time or continuing actions? Does it bring different times together or set them apart (e.g., “then” vs. “now”)?
- Is there a particular occasion for the poem (an incident, an event, a realization)?
- Does it focus on indicative states (“I am, I will be”) or conditional states (“I could be, I would be”)?
- Are different parts of the poem located in different times?
- Does time move smoothly? Are different states of being, or different ways of thinking, associated with different times? (“I used to think ‘X’, but now I think ‘Y’”)?
Setting answers the questions “Where?” and “When?” in the poem, though often poems are not set in a specific location or time.
- Is a sense of place clear (urban, pastoral, forest, desert, beach, etc.), or does the poem seem to occupy an abstract time and place (such as mental or emotional state)?
For some poems, a difficult but key question may be this:
- Where are we?