Poetry Explication Research

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he Poetry Explication Research Assignment-2 The Poetry Explication NOTE: Pick your poem from the syllabus. NOTE 2: Secondary research is required for this assignment. A poetry explication is a relatively short analysis (about 4 pages) which describes the possible meanings and relationships of the words, images, and other small units that make up a poem. Writing an explication is an effective way for a reader to connect a poem’s plot and conflicts with its structural features. This handout reviews some of the important techniques of approaching and writing a poetry explication. 1. READ the poem silently, and then read it aloud. Repeat as necessary. 2. Consider the poem as a dramatic situation in which a speaker addresses an audience or another character. In this way, begin your analysis by identifying and describing the speaking voice or voices, the conflicts or ideas, and the language used in the poem. Determine the basic design of the poem by considering the who, what, when, where, and why of the dramatic situation. · What is being dramatized? What conflicts or themes does the poem present, address, or question? · Who is the speaker? Define and describe the speaker and his/her voice. What does the speaker say? Who is the audience? Are other characters involved? · What happens in the poem? Consider the plot or basic design of the action. How are the dramatized conflicts or themes introduced, sustained, resolved, etc.? · When does the action occur? What is the date and/or time of day? · Where is the speaker? Describe the physical location of the dramatic moment. · Why does the speaker feel compelled to speak at this moment? What is his/her motivation? To analyze the design of the poem, we must focus on the poems’ parts, namely how the poem dramatizes conflicts or ideas in language. By concentrating on the parts, we develop our understanding of the poem’s structure, and we gather support and evidence for our interpretations. Some of the details we should consider include the following: · Form: Does the poem represent a particular form (sonnet, sestina, etc.)? Does the poem present any unique variations from the traditional structure of that form? · Rhetoric: How does the speaker make particular statements? Does the rhetoric seem odd in any way? Why? Consider the predicates and what they reveal about the speaker. · Syntax: Consider the subjects, verbs, and objects of each statement and what these elements reveal about the speaker. Do any statements have convoluted or vague syntax? · Vocabulary: Why does the poet choose one word over another in each line? Do any of the words have multiple or archaic meanings that add other meanings to the line? Use the Oxford English Dictionary as a resource. As you analyze the design line by line, look for certain patterns to develop which provide insight into the dramatic situation, the speaker’s state of mind, or the poet’s use of details. Some of the most common patterns include the following: · Rhetorical Patterns: Look for statements that follow the same format. · Rhyme: Consider the significance of the end words joined by sound; in a poem with no rhymes, consider the importance of the end words. · Patterns of Sound: Alliteration and assonance create sound effects and often cluster significant words. · Visual Patterns: How does the poem look on the page? · Rhythm and Meter: Consider how rhythm and meter influence our perception of the speaker and his/her language. The Format for the Explication: The explication should follow the same format as the preparation: begin with the large issues and basic design of the poem and work through each line to the more specific details and patterns. The first paragraph should present the large issues; it should inform the reader which conflicts are dramatized and should describe the dramatic situation of the speaker. The explication does not require a formal introductory paragraph; the writer should simply start explicating immediately. According to UNC ‘s Professor William Harmon, the foolproof way to begin any explication is with the following sentence: “This poem dramatizes the conflict between …” Such a beginning ensures that you will introduce the major conflict or theme in the poem and organize your explication accordingly. The next paragraphs should expand the discussion of the conflict by focusing on details of form, rhetoric, syntax, and vocabulary. In these paragraphs, the writer should explain the poem line by line in terms of these details, and he or she should incorporate important elements of rhyme, rhythm, and meter during this discussion. The explication has no formal concluding paragraph; do not simply restate the main points of the introduction! The end of the explication should focus on sound effects or visual patterns as the final element of asserting an explanation. Or the writer may choose simply to stop writing when he or she reaches the end of the poem. Tips To Remember: 1. Refer to the speaking voice in the poem as “the speaker” or “the poet.” For example, do not write, “In this poem, Wordsworth says that London is beautiful in the morning.” However, you can write, “In this poem, Wordsworth presents a speaker who…” We cannot absolutely identify Wordsworth with the speaker of the poem, so it is more accurate to talk about “the speaker” or “the poet” in an explication. 2. Use the present tense when writing the explication. The poem, as a work of literature, continues to exist! 3. Be sure to use secondary support for your claims. 4. To avoid unnecessary uses of the verb ‘to be’ in your compositions, the following list suggests some verbs you can use when writing the explication: contrasts juxtaposes suggests implies shows addresses emphasizes stresses accentuates enables dramatizes presents illustrates characterizes underlines asserts posits enacts connects portrays
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