English 292--Paper 1

Poetry Explication
Approximate Length: five pages
Due Thursday, September 30, 2004

Explication comes from the Latin word explicare, which means "to unfold."  Explication is a detailed explanation of a poem; the structure of your explication should be roughly based on the structure of the poem.  Begin prewriting an explication of a poem of your choice from The Norton Anthology of Poetry readings on our syllabus.  Your paper should explain the workings of the poem in detail, attending to matters of poetic form, meter, imagery, and meaning.  Remember to consider the various elements of poetry we have discussed in class (e.g., title, diction, symbols, metaphor, personification, rhyme, meter, etc.) and explain their presence in the poem you have chosen.  Your paper must be more than a line-by-line summary of the poem; to succeed, you must develop a thesis about the meaning of the poem.  You must support this claim with evidence from the poem itself, showing how form and content are related.  Your paper should present an argument about the meaning of the poem, its central device(s), and the way it makes that meaning.  Your explication should be gracefully organized, with a clear introduction, body, and a conclusion that ties your reading of the poem together.

Some sample poetry explication papers online:

An excellent and detailed guide to poetry explication from the University of North Carolina Writing Center that includes sample explications

A number of sample poetry explications from the University of New Mexico, with teacher's comments -- includes explications of Shakespeare's sonnets #42 and #46

A sample paper at Arkansas State University