Topic: For this essay, you will take a close look at the meaning of a poem. A poem explication is a stanza by stanza interpretation of a poem. In an explication, you are looking in depth at the denotation and connotation of words, descriptive images, and comparisons created by the poet and then explaining what the poem means in your own words. Explicating a poem is about engaging with language. You will need to look at both the actual and implied meanings of words. You will need to look at how the descriptions build sensory responses, and you will need to understand the metaphors and allusions created by the poet in order to explain the mean or the poet with accuracy. You also need to look at how the background of the poet and the time frame might have affected the meaning of the poem. You have three poems to choose from, all if which can be found on the Poetry Foundation website, and are link on the class Blackboard:
Requirements: A well-written essay will provide an introduction that clearly introduces the poem and the poet, and provides a thesis that clearly identifies the overall meaning of the poem. You will then provide one paragraph about the time frame of the poem and the background of the poet, looking at what might have influenced the meaning of the poem. After this paragraph, focus on presenting the meaning of the poem, using your own explication and research as support your interpretation. You should then look at any other elements that pertain to you reading or the poem, such as the rhyme scheme, the symbolism, the sound and rhythm, the narrative, and voice of the speaker. While some of this will come out in the explication, you will probably need to look at some of these things independently.
Research Needs: You need to find at least two sources about the poem you are examining to help you develop this essay. One of these sources must be a biographical/historical source to help you understand the author and the time frame. The other source should be a previous critical or interpretative article on the poem, that will either support your explication or challenge it. You also need a dictionary. You cannot do a proper explanation of the meaning of the poem without understanding the words. If you define these words in the paper, you need to include a proper dictionary citation to back it up. These sources should be used to support your argument, but they can also present ideas you wish to refute as well. All source should be properly cited in-text and on a Works Cited page using the new 2016 MLA formatting rules. Please note that when you are citing poetry you are citing by the line number, rather than a page or paragraph number. Chapter 41, pages 1340-61, of Literature covers how to write an essay about poetry. This chapter includes how to cite poetry and an example essay. The chapters on poetry in the textbook also have some example essays you can look at.
Formatting: Your paper should be 4-6 pages (1,000-1, 500 words) in length when typed in Times New Roman font, with double-spaced lines, and proper one inch margins as required in MLA format. It should follow correct conventions of punctuation and grammar as well as correct conventions of Standard Written English and citation formatting. Also, when discussing the writing and presentation of others, you always refer to them in the present tense (known as the literary present): the writer says rather than the writer said. This is required by academic writing. Your essay must also be in the third person only.
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