Poetry Explication Essay
Format: Essay should be formatted according to MLA:double spaced, indented paragraphs, standard font (Times New Roman), print size (12), and margins (1”) with a title and proper placement of name and class information. See tutorial under Lecture Notes.
Your tone and language should be appropriate for a college-educated audience.Avoid the use of first person (I, me, in my opinion).
Length: 4-6 pages. You may go over this maximum length only if it enriches the analysis. If you feel you have completed a thorough explication in three pages, this is fine as long as the explication is complete.
Due: October 13. No late papers accepted.
Weight: 20% of final grade
Objective:An explication of a poem is a line-by-line, sentence-by-sentence analysis of what the poem says, according to your interpretation, using the lines of the poem as compelling evidence. According to our textbook, “In an explication (literally, “an unfolding), a writer explains an entire poem in detail, unraveling its complexities” (1389).
Selection: You must choose from one of the poems discussed in class within the discussion board forums. Your essay should contain a brief, relevant, and engaging introduction which then leads to your thesis statement. Thesis: The thesis statement presents the central, analytical idea to be explored within your essay. Ideally, it should indicate, either implicitly or explicitly, the poetic devices used to enrich the poem. Your explication will support that claim.Here’s a hypothetical example:Through the use of irony and graphic imagery juxtaposed by a distant, nonchalant tone of the speaker of “Saboteur,” Ha Jin effectively emphasizes the political corruption in his native China. Here, the writer explicitly mentions the poetic devices used within the poem and how they contribute to theme. If the writer chose to present this implicitly it could be presented as: Through the use of various poetic elements within the work “Saboteur,” Ha Jin effectively emphasizes….etc. Citations from the selected poem: You should incorporate direct lines from the poem to support your explication. If citing more than one line, please use a forward slash to indicate where a line ends and a new one begins. Here’s an example: The poem opens with an eerie, somewhat disturbing image and the introduction of a mysterious woman: “Even the long-dead are willing to move. / Without a word, she came with me from the desert” (1. 2-3). Please follow the parenthetical citation format for citing lines of poem according to MLA. Here, this indicates stanza 1, lines 2-3. If your selected poem is one stanza only, just cite the line number(s). Also note that when quote is introduced by a full signal sentence, a colon is placed before the quote. Organization of Body of Essay:As mentioned, you should have a clearly delineated, engaging introduction ending with your thesis statement. Please include poet’s full name and title of poem somewhere in your introduction. Titles of poems are placed in quotation marks. The body of your essay will contain your explication, divided into paragraphs. Stylistically, this will depend on the poem you have selected. If a multi-stanza poem, you can devote a paragraph to each stanza. Or if one stanza, you can choose to group perhaps three lines (or four) and devote a paragraph to those four lines, then move through the poem accordingly. Remember to begin your explication with the poem’s first line and work through the work, line by line. You should also discuss any poetic devices used in the poem that enrich the poem—i.e. imagery, figurative language such as metaphors and/or similes, dialect, sound devices, etc. Be sure to have clear transitions/topic sentences between paragraphs that take readers smoothly through the poem. You should close with a clearly delineated conclusion where you can re-emphasize thesis, highlight key points, and discuss theme or message of the poem. Guidance with literary elements. Some elements you might discuss in your explication are below. These are just some examples; feel free to discuss other elements such as sound devices:
“Mother to Son:” metaphor of the staircase, symbolism, dialect of the mother
“Facing It:” simile, metaphor, sensory imagery, shifting tone of the speaker
“Happiness:” simile, metaphor, personification, imagery
“Those Winter Sundays:” shifting tone of the speaker, imagery, personification, repetition As with the Characterization & Character Arc essay, this assignment does not require research. Any evidence of plagiarism will result in a failing grade. Since you will only use this one source, your selected poem within your textbook, you do not need to have a Works Cited page.
The rubric to be used for assessment of this essay is below:
Grading Rubric / English 1020
**Each essay will be assessed by the grading category/rubric that best corresponds to content. A solid “A” will begin at a 95; anything above a 95 is generally considered to be superior. An A- will start at a 93, a paper that is borderline A/B but leans more toward the A scale will start at a 90, and so forth. Percentages may be higher or lower depending on content and mechanics.
Introduction and Thesis: Engaging and relevant opening leading smoothly to clear, well-crafted thesis statement (although papers on the lower end of the A scale may need slight revision in these areas).
Organization: clear organization with effective transitions/cohesiveness between ideas and paragraphs.Essay has a clearly delineated intro and conclusion.
Content: a thoughtful, in-depth response which addresses and supports the thesis and is developed through skillful use and integration of lines from poem.
Diction and tone: employs strong, precise choices of vocabulary; tone demonstrates a high degree of audience awareness.
Mechanics: sophisticated sentence structure, demonstrating a command of subordination and parallelism, showing a mastery of the conventions of written English, although papers toward the lower end of the A scale may require very minor proofreading.In-text citations for lines from poem asare also properly formatted according to MLA. 80-89%
Introduction and thesis: Overall, intro is clear and thesis is evident (although revision may be needed).
Organization: clear organization, overall. Improvement may be needed in cohesiveness of ideas and may require revision in transitions.Some essays’ intros and conclusions may need more depth/length.
Content: a good response which addresses the thesis and is developed through textual support from poem; some points may be lacking in support or not clearly developed.
Diction and tone: employs good choices of vocabulary which may be less precise than an “A” paper but are still appropriate; tone demonstrates audience awareness.
Mechanics: while sentence structure may be less sophisticated than an “A” paper, it is still effective; may contain agreement, sentence structure, punctuation, or capitalization errors, but overall observes the conventions of written English although some areas of the paper may be distracted by errors. MLA documentation for in-text citations may need slight revision.
Intro and thesis: Intro may need revision and length; thesis may also require significant revision.
Organization: response follows basic principles of organization, but transitions may be weak; response may lack unity; intro and conclusion may need revision (or conclusion may be lacking)
Content: a competent response which addresses the thesis; the textual support supplied is used to develop points, though the inclusion of quotes may be awkward; some support may lack relevance (or may be lacking); may be repetitive.
Diction and tone: employs generalized vocabulary which may be less precise than a strong paper; audience awareness may be weak.
Mechanics: sentence structure is adequate, but may be noticeably simpler than in the categories above; contains errors in agreement, sentence structure, punctuation, or capitalization which distracts from content. MLA documentation of in-text citations may need improvement. 60-69%
Intro and thesis: May require extensive revision. Thesis may be unclear or lacking.
Organization: response may have significant problems with organization and transitions; coherence may be weak. Intro and conclusion may be too brief or be lacking.
Content: the response may not fully address the thesis, and some parts may not correspond; use of textual support may be weak or lacking; may be repetitive and lack development.
Diction and tone: vocabulary is too general and vague; may have some usage errors; may lack audience awareness.
Mechanics: sentence structure is often awkward; may lack subordination and parallelism; contains enough errors in agreement, sentence structure, punctuation, or capitalization to be distracting. MLA documentation of in-text citations may need improvement or be lacking.
0-59% Intro and Thesis: Introduction is weak, too brief, or may be lacking. Thesis requires extensive revision or may also be lacking.
Organization: response is disorganized; may lack or have inappropriate/irrelevant ideas; transitions are lacking.
Content:fails to address and support thesis; lacks textual support and development; may be too brief.
Diction and tone: vocabulary is very basic; may use words inappropriately; lacks audience awareness.
Mechanics: sentence structures are overly simple or have confusing structure with excessive coordination; contains many distracting errors in agreement, sentence structure, punctuation, or capitalization; meaning may be difficult to determine. MLA documentation of in-text citations is lacking.
Class, begin a discussion, by replying to this post’s “Discussion Questions for Consideration.” (Do not create a new thread). The first person to read my post should reply to it; then the next student who logs into the board to participate will also read my prompt, the first student’s, and a few other posts. Ideally, you should read some of the discussion thread, then go back to my main post and reply to it with your own response.
Then, interject a second reply to a peer anywhere in the thread. Remember to follow online etiquette as outlined in our syllabus, do not use informal language, slang, or IM/texting language—i.e. typing “i” for I or “u” for you. Proofread your responses carefully.
Discussion Questions for “Facing It”
After reading Yusef Komunyakaa’s poem, “Facing It” which presents the poignant emotions of a Vietnam war veteran (in this case, the speaker of the poem is Komunyakaa) as he faces the war memorial, consider the following:
1. The poet incorporates the use of metaphors (i.e. “I’m stone,” “I’m a window”) and similes (“..letters like smoke,” “My clouded reflection eyes me like a bird of prey..”) to enrich imagery and to heighten the speaker’s conflicted emotions. Choose at least one simile and one metaphor and discuss the appropriateness of the image and its effect on the imagery–in other words, why do you feel the poet chose this particular image and what effect does it have?
2. Can you determine two meanings to the title, “Facing It?”
3. Although this poem was written about the Vietnam War, what relevance does it pose in our present world?