Poetry Critique and Commentary
How far to go?
To explain poetry is a delicate job. Many poets (and artists) will not even touch analysis, disdaining it as an invasion of their creative nature.
My own take is that I, as human beings, have a need for 'meaning' or 'context'.
The first step in critiquing is always simple editing, which is usually straightforward.
The second step is poetic adjustments: rhyme (if any, both internal and external), rhythm, alliteration, repeated use of certain sounds, or consonants, or vowels. Any of these are so highly individual that as an editor I will not insist on changes unless there is an obvious problem.
Finally, there is the context and meaning: if the poem is good but the reader has no idea what the poet means, the poem will go nowhere.
Fortunately there are lots of people who don't give a damn about meaning and will enjoy the poem anyway.
I participate in a poetry forum where I often make comments on other people's poetry and interpret or analyze their poems. That is just what I do. That is how I ‘get into’ their poetry. That is how I internalize their poetry. My analysis may not do anything for the poet, but it does everything for me. There are a few times when the poet is surprised at my response: the fact is that I was first surprise by the strength of the poem that moved me to comment on it!
Personally, I find a poem gets better and better if I 'know' what I am reading.