assume your reader has read the poem several times. You should also
assume he or she has a college-level vocabulary and has made proper
use of a dictionary; thus, you should not bother to define
words, unless the meaning the poet intends is not the usual one.
The essay may
be either open- or closed-form; however, the emphasis on explication
lends itself to an open-form approach, so this is a good time to
try it. Either way, you should have an introduction in which
you establish either the issue you are exploring (open-form) or
your thesis (closed-form). You should not quote the poem in
your first paragraph.
The body of
the essay should be made up of your close reading. Here is
where you need to quote and analyze in great detail
the poem, using quotations from the poem for support just as you
did in the Text Quotation and Comment Exercise for Hamlet.
Cite the quotations by line number only.
after you have identified the best lines to use, you need both to
set them up and comment on them so that they support the thesis.
Always set up the point you are making, quote, then comment on the
quotation. Remember: the quotations cannot make your
argument for you; you need to comment on everything you quote.
Do not automatically
quote only whole lines of the poem. Sometimes starting or
ending your quotation in the middle of a line is necessary in order
for the quotation to make sense. Make sure that your quotations
make sense out of context, or that you set them up in a way that
makes their meaning clear.
should address several aspects of the poem. Your basic goal
should be to discuss the message or theme of the poem, but to do
that you need to consider elements such as imagery, figurative language
such as metaphors and similes, and formal elements such as rhyme
and meter. Note, however, that merely pointing out that any
of these things exists in the poem is not by itself interesting;
what makes it interesting is how they contribute to the theme.
of your essay either states the thesis (open-form) or summarizes
your argument and re-connects it to the thesis (closed-form).
Just as you should not quote in your first paragraph, you should
probably also not be quoting and analyzing the poem in your conclusion.
You may not
use any outside sources for this assignment. The one exception
is that you may use your notes from class, but you do not need to
cite those. (What I tell you in class or on the web-pages
I have created for the poems is free for your own use.) I
will consider evidence of using any other outside source, whether
text or electronic, a violation of the honor code.
You need a
work cited entry for the poem. Cite the web-page according
to MLA guidelines. Failing to include a Work Cited entry will
result in a .1 penalty to the Style and Format portion of the grade.
The essay must
have an appropriate title. Review the titling guidelines on the
Conventions for Papers in the Humanities