An explication is part interpretation, part analysis, and part explanation. Focus on the language of the poem!!
Note: You cannot write about the other poems.
To Prepare: To help you better prepare for the essay, I want you, before you begin, to print out a copy of the poem (One Art) you are writing about and then, in the margins, summarize, word for word, what the poet is describing/discussing. I’d also like you to write down your initial reflections and analyses about what you might infer from the language of the poem (One Art). This way, before you begin writing, you will have engaged the poem closely enough to provide you with enough material to shape your initial writing direction. Note: your writing task will be much easier if you take the time to read the poem many times so that you will be very familiar with what happens in it.
What Should I Be Explicating? In general, when explicating, one explores the text of the poem— specifically such things as the poet’s use of metaphor, simile, symbols, personification, paradox, hyperbole, imagery, form/structure, and music (alliteration, assonance, consonance, end rhyme, internal rhyme). Keep in mind, however, that one does not need to cover all of these things (nor does each poem utilize every one of these devices). It is not your job to offer a shopping list of every figurative or musical device in a poem but, instead, to closely examine those that are most relevant to the poem. I do not, for example, want you to write something like the following:
In the poem “Design,” Robert Frost uses a variation of the Italian sonnet form. The poem has the following rhyme scheme: ABBAABBA CDCCDD. Frost uses personification and symbols as well as similes. In the first eight lines of the sonnet, what is called an octave, Frost tells the reader about a white spider on a white heal-all that he encounters. In the last six lines, which are called a sestet, Frost asks several questions.
Each “item” on this list is most certainly relevant, but instead of just listing items, you need to explore each facet on its own and show your reader its relevance. For example, the discussion of the sonnet form is very useful if you are demonstrating how the poet uses the conventions of that structure to explore (a) the questions theme brought up in the poem and/or (b) how the poet addresses them.
Audience: When writing about a poem, you will struggle with choosing what to say and what not to say and what to cover in the poem and what not to cover. One can reduce the difficulties of such choices by considering who the audience for one’s paper will be. For our purposes, I want you to write as if you are writing to your fellow classmates— which means that you will be writing for an audience who is familiar with the poem. DO NOT USE “I” OR “YOU” FOR THIS ESSAY
Structure: For this essay, and this essay only, do not provide a formal introduction and a thesis statement placed at the beginning of your essay— just jump right in and explicate the poem. State your thesis in your conclusion. This way you will have argued towards your conclusion / thesis.
EX: As the poem begins, Frost encounters “a dimpled spider, fat and white” on a white heal-all (1).
Use the following for your works cited requirement (please note EXACTLY how it is formatted)
Poet’s Last Name, Poet’s First Name. “Title of Poem.” English 1B Course Reader: Spring 2017. Ed. Nathan Wirth. Novato, CA: Nathan’s Mind Inc. 2017. Print.
Outside Sources: Don’t reference any outside sources.
Formatting: Check the formatting rule in the file “rules”