Poetry Explication Essay
Overview: Explication derives from the verb explicate which means unfolding or making the implicit more explicit. When you explicate a poem, you scrutinize it, carefully examining its parts by interpreting lines, words, and phrases as they relate to the themes and meaning of the poem.
Assignment: In this assignment, you will choose one or two poems and, going line by line, examine how different elements of poetic analysis (e.g. tone, form, persona, imagery, symbolism, theme, rhyme, rhythm, diction) work together to offer your readers a way of understanding the poem that they would find convincing. In your analysis, you are encouraged to explore diverse and varied avenues of interpretation. Remember, however, that your analysis must be grounded in the poem: thus, you must support your thesis by quoting selectively from the poem about which you are writing.
Please do the following:
- Organize the essay around a question you’re trying to answer about the poem and its possible meanings
- Use your question as a guide for reading the text selectively
- As you shape your answer to the question, rely mostly on lines from the poem(s) to support your analysis, supplementing your analysis with scholarly sources
- Use terms of poetic analysis when appropriate
- Incorporate at least one but no more than two scholarly sources
Purpose: To produce an interesting and detailed analysis of one or two poems( Rite of passage by Sharon Olds & Deliberate by Amy Uyematsu) . Pose an interesting, problematic, or significant question about your chosen poem and use textual evidence and your scholarly (secondary) source(s) to support it.
Audience: Although your targeted audience is your instructor and peers, who have read the work you are writing about, you should still provide some context for your interpretation somewhere in the introduction of your essay. Context includes a brief paragraph (one paragraph maximum) of summary and possibly a discussion of what other literary critics have said about the work
- Develop a clear, focused thesis that explicitly indicates your proposed interpretation of the work.
- Provide an engaging introductory paragraph that includes the author’s name (authors’ names), year the poem was originally published, title(s) of the poem(s), and the essay’s thesis.
- Use substantial textual evidence (quotes from poem) and 1-2 secondary scholarly sources; no popular sources (including Wikipedia) may be used.
- Always be sure to unpack your quotations. All quotes and passages used as support must be adequately developed and explained.
- When it comes to a personal interpretation of poetry, you are the authority; however, phrases that begin with I believe and I think detract from your authority and familiarity with the text and make your interpretation look like simple personal opinion rather than informed, supported analysis.
- Use properly formatted MLA in-text citations throughout
- Avoid cliches and generalities
- A work cited page must accompany the essay
Research: In addition to the primary text (i.e. the poem or poems you analyze), you must also use at least one, but no more than two scholarly sources in your essay. Your works cited page must list all of your sources, including the primary text(s).
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