Analyzing Poetry

Analyzing Poetry


Objective


identify the types of stylistic elements appropriate for poetry
use literary analysis to evaluate a work of poetry
create a written literary analysis essay
The poetry response should be a literary analysis of the following topic, complete with
specific details and MLA documentation. Submit all parts (essay, works cited page, and
outline) as one document.
TOPIC: Choose ONE poem from the course schedule and discuss it, providing concrete details
and quotations from the work in order to support your ideas. Identify the elements of poetry
(min. 2) used in the poem to convey theme or evoke emotion. Explain how these devices are
employed by the poet and how they affect the reader. You must think deeply and provide
significant analysis in this essay. Be certain to include direct textual support for your ideas.
You should also consult one outside source and use it to support your ideas.
LENGTH: a minimum of 300 words and a maximum of 500 words.
AUDIENCE: your classmates. Write as though you are telling them your essay, not as though
you were writing about a scientific experiment or making a speech before strangers. Assume
your readers are familiar with the work you are discussing; you don’t have to summarize the
plot or tell us who’s who.
TITLE: Don’t just give the title of the work you are discussing. Clue us in on the topic of your
response. Your title should not be set off in any way (but capitalize major words). If you refer
to an author’s title within your title (such as “Tell-Tale Heart”), set it off correctly.
INTRODUCTION: Remember your readers and get us involved from the very start. The
introductory paragraph should at least the do the following (note the nice use of parallel
structure):






Grab the reader’s attention
Present the essay’s thesis
Prepare the reader for what to expect in the essay
Preview the essay’s organizational plan
Establish the tone for the essay (Funny? Sad? Ironic? Resigned?)
Create a transition into the first body paragraph

BODY: The body should offer 2-3 paragraphs with clear topic sentences supported by careful
illustrations from the work you are discussing. Use either a series of carefully chosen
examples.
Be sure to cite both quotations and paraphrases with parenthetical references
to the text.
LANGUAGE and TERMS:
Refer to literary terms and use them correctly. Define any unfamiliar
terms for the reader.
It should contain paraphrases and quotations from the primary
source.

CONCLUSION: The conclusion has summarize key points and bring the response to a close.
Avoid bringing up new ideas in the conclusion. It’s often worthwhile to refer the reader to
something you said in the intro, to bring the piece full circle. Don’t simply restate the thesis.
OUTLINE: Formal outline, complete with parallel items (see your handbook), is required.
TONE: The tone should be interested and heightened, but not offensively formal (no
“moreovers” or “furthermores,” for example).
You should write in 3rd person. (The words
you and I have no place in this essay.) Also, write in literary present tense.
Discuss the
events as if they are happening now rather than in the past.
THEME STANDARD: The Theme Standard (ENG 102 rubric) applies in full force, so study the
Standard and the major errors that will cost the most points if found in your essay. Take your
proofreading seriously, and refer to your handbook to help you avoid errors. Certainly allow
time to proofread carefully, and get help from your instructor or the Writing Center staff as
you work. Understand that mechanical and spelling errors can fail an otherwise worthy essay.
PEER REVIEWING: You will find that it’s often a good idea to have another person look over a
document before the final reader sees it–not just to see if the spelling is ok, but to consider
the ideas and how they are presented well before the draft is ready for the final proofreading
step.

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