Poetry Explication

Assignment

A poetry explication is an analytical essay that comments on a poem’s elements and possible

meanings. You will make connections between the narrative of the poem and the literary choices the poet uses to convey that narrative such as imagery, tone, rhythm and meter, and word choice. You should choose two to three areas of focus such as theme, tone, symbolism, metaphor, metonymy, synecdoche, or imagery, which you can show through supportive evidence. It’s up to you and what you notice when reading. You can devote each section to a specific element of focus. Remember that you need to separate the narrator of the poem from the poet, particularly if you know the poet’s identity. Do not conflate the poet’s POV and personal life with the narrator’s life.

Briefly summarize the poem’s narrative in the introduction of your essay for context. Then develop a clear thesis statement that addresses your major analysis points. Write definitive statements from a third-person POV. Don’t reference your opinions from a first-person POV with “I” statements such as “I think” or “I feel.” You also don’t want to seem arrogant with statements like “The author clearly indicates” or “It is obvious that the author…” when poems can have multiple interpretations. When you conclude your essay, briefly summarize your main points, but leave the reader with a thought-provoking note. On the other hand, you can also conclude your essay by addressing your analysis of the poem’s ending.

  • Don’t simply summarize or paraphrase the poem line by line or stanza by stanza.

  • Don’t choose an element to write about if you don’t fully comprehend it.

  • It’s better to underwrite and be concise than to overwrite and become unclear.

  • Don’t excessively quote from the poem, but do use examples to support your main points, as when writing any analysis essay. 

  • When you do quote from the poem, cite lines in this format: (lines x-x) or (x). “X” in this example refers to the line number.


    Format: Please single space your paper, use 11 or 12 pt. font in a Sans Serif typeface (Arial, Calibri, Helvetica, Tw Cen MT, etc.), use line breaks rather than indentation to separate paragraphs. (Microsoft Word automatically uses this format for you.) Cite quotations and references using MLA citation format, format your heading and page numbers in MLA Style, include an MLA Works Cited page with the poem you chose in MLA Citation Style. Use only one space after periods. Margins should be 1in. Use footnotes rather than end notes. Double space between the title and the first line of the text. Follow MLA guidelines except for what I have noted to be different.

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