Paper Requirements:

You will choose any poem by one of the poets covered, though not a poem we read in class.

Please include a copy of the poem chosen with you paper.

Poetry Explication:

1. What is an explication of a poem?  It is a detailed explanation or interpretation. It discusses the poem’s form (Sonnet? Quatrains? Free form?).  If rhyme is used, it discusses how the rhyme adds to one’s understanding of the poem. It discusses the poem’s tone and theme (serious or humorous? subject/message or meaning?).  It discusses important figures of speech or other techniques (metaphor? simile? alliteration?) which contribute to the overall effect of the poem. 


1. What is NOT an explication of a poem?  It is NOT a personal statement about how the poem makes you feel, unless that statement is supported by reference to specific lines in the poem. Your personal reaction must be based on the poem itself, not on your background or the mood you happen to be in when you read the poem.

Poetry uses many devices in order to convey its feeling or message or ideas. This includes: figurative language, sound, imagery, structure, language, word choice, juxtaposition, repetition, etc. In your poetry explication you will choose a poem that interests you and explain what you think the message/feeling/meaning of that poem is by explaining how you think these poetic devices work within the poem.

The list of approved poets include:

Rita Dove

Anne Sexton

Sylvia Plath

Edna St. Vincent Millay

Walt Whitman

Ezra Pound

William Carlos Williams

EE Cummings

Maya Angelou

Sharon Olds

Langston Hughes

Amiri Baraka

Grading Rubric

Essay 2: Poetry Explication

(100 points) Explanation:

· Poem selected from approved poets but not poem that was read in class (4)

· A copy of the poem (4)

· Clearly introduces the poem and poet (4)

· Interesting Title (4)

· 2 – 3 pgs, typed, double-spaced, 12 pt. Times New Roman Font; This does NOT include the copy of the poem  (20)

· Clearly explains what you think the poem is saying (20)

· At least three of our categories of poetry techniques:  figurative language, sounds, imagery, structure, (word choice, juxtaposition, repetition) (20)

· Organized into sensible paragraphs, where each paragraph focuses on one idea or point regarding the poem (4)

· Generally well-written, sentence to sentence, displaying grammatical and mechanical control, easy to read and interesting (20)

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