How To Write A Poetry Explication Essay - Examples

Poetry explication essay writing is not so hard as it is commonly considered. The main thing you have to do is analyze the original text and explain your understanding of every line. You may use examples from other poems or literary works to support your ideas about a poem. It will be great if you express your thoughts in a poetic form, but this isn't compulsory because explication doesn’t imply writing poetry, just reading it and recreating what you feel about it. Poetry should be true reflection of writer's feelings, therefore there are no strict rules for interpretation; everything depends on how one feels while reading it.

Lines don’t mean anything until they are interpreted by somebody who understands their meaning. Being a good listener can also help understanding artworks, as an interpreter should hear the author's voice speaking in his or her own head. It is not a simple thing to explain poetry; it takes time and deep thought, but when you succeed, you understand parts of other people; this is essential for every kind of art.

In this guide we will discuss how to write a poetry explication paper with the help of a poetry explication example.

You can also review our guide on how to write an explication essay.

What is a poetry explication essay?

A poetry explication essay is a formal essay that analyzes the meaning of a poem. In order to format a poetry explication essay, one must follow certain rules of writing and incorporate specific elements. A poetry explication essay is usually four paragraphs long and requires that you analyze the following elements:

1. The poet's purpose or "what is the poem trying to say?"

2. What techniques the poet uses to convey his/her message? (ex- metaphor, simile , alliteration , etc.)

3. How does the language contribute to your interpretation of the poem? (word choice, structure, syntax)

4. What are examples in this poem that illustrate the central idea?

5. Discuss how your interpretation of this poem relates to other poems by this same author or other authors.

6. Discuss how your interpretation relates to the theme of the collection - or anthology - in which this poem was found.

How to write a poetry explication essay

The first step to writing great explication essay should be done by analyzing the original text using close reading technique. Every single line of a poem tells us something about how the author feels. Close reading helps learners get familiar with poetry as many poems have metaphors and complex symbols that are connected by hidden meaning. It is very important to know what a poet means if we want to understand its structure and main idea.

Explicating some works requires taking into consideration such things as structure and poetic devices. Answering questions about poem’s form, language use, symbols, figurative language or poet's intentions will help you understand it better and choose the most suitable way to convey your feelings about it.

Poets also use various kinds of poetic forms like free verse, haiku , sonnet and ballad. Some poems imply simple story line told from a particular point of view; some are descriptive while others are highly intellectual . Every form has its own structure and set of rules that should be taken into account when explicating poetry.

When reading an original text try to feel how your body changes during this process. It is very important to express through words not only what you think but also what you feel. Your emotions and feelings can help you to build a poem from the ground up as Shakespeare once did with his famous sonnet 'Sonnet 18' which begins "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?"

Explicating poetry is very much like describing art; it requires passion, imagination, sense of rhythm, clear understanding of language and your own way of understanding how different kinds of art influence people.

Explaining Poetry Essay - Conclusion

You may ask yourself why do we need poems? We use them every day without even noticing that our lives are full of quotations from literature works. They teach us about morals , loyalty , courage and so on. It would be hard to imagine human society in general without poetry. Reading poems expands horizon of imagination, gives us a chance to explore different worlds and this is why we should try to understand what poets mean when they speak about their feelings through lines.

These are the main points that demonstrate how poetry can be explicated. You should always begin comprehension process with close reading of text; it helps you get familiar with structure, language use and symbols used by author. It is essential for writing great poem explanation essay as well as any other type of literary analysis technique that requires understanding deeper reasons behind work's appearance in literature or art history. Explicating poetry brings us closer together because we may hear another person’s voice inside our heads while doing it.

Here are the main things to consider when writing a poem explication paper

1. Use close reading technique

2. Structures of poems

3. Poetic devices

4. Figurative language and symbols in the poem

5. Theme of the collection - or anthology - in which this poem was found

6. Connections to other poems by same poet or other poets

7. Connections with theme of collection/anthology, if any.

8. Main ideas of the poem

9. Qualities of this writer’s work:

10. How you understand it and why it means something to you.

11. What makes this type of writing unique as compared with other forms?

12. Style, diction, tone - what is its essence? Why did it appeal to you by such strong emotions or feelings?

13. What is your opinion about poet's talent and creativity in general and tell what are your favourite works of that writer or leave comment on some particular lines/stanzas/paragraphs etc .

14. Focus on most important points regarding structure, language use, symbols used by author , figurative language and style.

How to start a poetry explication essay

A typical poetry explication essay should have a reflective introduction, followed by the poem's explication and analysis, followed by the concluding paragraph.

A reflective introduction should address the following:

  1. The title (e.g., the title of a poem or novel), and its connection to the content, theme, setting, etc. of that work
  2. Writing style
  3. Language used in the work or on certain features of it
  4. "Observation" (i.e., particulars from the text) of certain facts presented by the author in his writing (poem). If you are analysing a play, show how language was used to convey plot and action by using linguistic devices such as imagery especially with poetic works).

A reflective poetry explication introduction is where your essay takes off; this is where you give a brief thesis statement on what you will discuss for your explication, followed by establishing a direct link with the title, writing style, language used in the work or on certain features of it, and "observation" (i.e., particulars from the text) of certain facts presented by the author in his writing (poem). The third paragraph generally has an overview of what you are going to discuss for your explication, followed by how you will structure your argument. This is where you give out pointers on how you present your thesis statement through analysis methods and procedures.

After you have written your reflection introductory paragraph, then you can start writing the explication and analysis of the poem.

The explication and analysis is composed of two sections as follows;

1) Theme or the general idea that a reader can gain out of reading a specific poetry,

2) Elements where readers are able to describe what elements of language, theme and structure are used in constructing the poem.

A good poetry explication paper concluding paragraph should restate why your poem was chosen for evaluation and how it benefited others to read it.

Poem explication essay introduction paragraph examples:

According to Knapp, a poem can be interpreted in many ways, but for example purposes we shall analyze the "Cat" by Carl Sandburg. The general theme of this poem is that there are times when people need something else besides themselves to lean on and trust upon. This poem has various themes such as loss, love/mistrust and death; all these themes brought out through the use of imagery, diction and syntax. Loss is evident in line 4 where it says "to get her sick" (Knapp). Love/trust is again shown in lines 6-8 which state: "She put her faith in the Cat. She loved him like a lover". Finally, death is once again shown when it says "Else velvet paws would be all of him left" (Knapp).

Poetry explication essay example

This is a sample poetry explication example that can be used as a reference to write great poetry explication paper by college and high school students.

In the poem "Daffodils," Wordsworth describes the beauty of nature and how it inspires his poetic genius. He talks about the “daffodils,” also known as Narcissus poeticus, and he says that they “bring with them thoughts of May,” which is a time for rebirth and renewal. The speaker loves to see these cheerful flowers because they remind him of happier times in the spring. How could anyone not love such a small yellow flower with a bright yellow center?

The author wrote this poem to describe his feelings for nature and how it impacts his artistry. When Wordsworth sees the flowers, he feels happy inside because they remind him of a time when he was happy too. Not only does nature inspire his poetry, but it also inspires him in general to be a better person.

In the first line of this poem, Wordsworth wishes that he might speak as beautifully as the poet John Milton. This shows us how much Wordsworth idolizes his inspiration and strives to become just like him one day. He says that “as on the margin of the stream / I stand and see” with admiration and wonder at these flowers. The way in which he sees them truly displays how much they mean to him; after all, they make up about two-thirds of the poem!

Wordsworth states that “the eye could hardly pick them out…/ Between the foliage and white stem.” He describes the flowers as being very small, but they are still beautiful to him. The fact that they are hidden in the leaves shows how these flowers really capture Wordsworth’s attention.

Wordsworth is describing happy childhood memories while showing his admiration for nature and his love for poetry at the same time. We know that he wants to be just like John Milton because he wishes “That I may always see…/ Green plants and sunny flower-beds [and] hear / The Cock crowing on the farmstead when I wake / In morning's cheerful dawn.” Although Wordsworth isn’t as old as John Milton (who died a hundred years before this poem was written), it seems as if his love for nature and poetry is just as strong.

Wordsworth appears to love nature more than anything else in the world. His “thoughts/ Are with the daffodils,” which means that he thinks about them a lot. In these lines, Wordsworth describes himself as being almost a part of the flowers because they mean so much to him and have such an important impact on his life. In contrast, he states in another line that “People may come and people may go/ But I go on forever!” This shows us how Wordsworth feels about himself compared to the endless passing of time: He doesn’t hold onto things very tightly; instead, he focuses on moving forward in life and on growing as a person.

Wordsworth is not trying to brag in this poem; he just wants us all to know how passionate he is about nature and poetry. The way in which Wordsworth talks about the daffodils makes it seem like there is nothing else in the world that means as much to him. He states that “I cannot see [the flowers] among the trees / But, springing up before me, they address/ Thoughts of more deep seclusion…” This shows us that our poet-to-be is currently living an isolated life and doesn’t have many friends or close relationships with people. It also implies that he wishes for something even better than being surrounded by nature; he wishes to be one with nature. To Wordsworth, the daffodils are not only something to admire from a distance; they are his best friends and closest companions.

Wordsworth’s feelings for these flowers show us that he doesn’t just love looking at nature; instead, it changes who he is as a person because it has such an enormous impact on him. He sees the bright yellow flowers towering over his head and feels “the power of nature/ [over] my mind…” This shows us that Wordsworth loves life and everything in it so much that seeing these cheerful little flowers gives him an entirely new perspective on himself. It also makes him realize that there is more to life than just poetry; it also shows us that he cares about the world in which we live, and not just his own personal thoughts. Wordsworth realizes that nature has a powerful impact on who he is as a person, and that if he doesn’t give back to the world that gave so much to him, then life would be meaningless.

Wordsworth makes us realize how beautiful real life can be by being open-minded and noticing all of the small details within it. He truly appreciates everything in life, even flowers! In fact, this poem was first published in Lyrical Ballads , along with poems by other Romantic poets such as Coleridge and Blake . This collection helped give birth to a new literary movement known as Romanticism , which established the importance of poets expressing their emotions and being open-minded towards nature, society, and other people. Although this poem was written two centuries ago, it still seems fresh and modern today as well as inspiring to many readers.

Below is an in depth analysis of the essay above and to show how you can write a poetry explication paper by following the above example

Sample Poetry Explication Paper: Outline, Format, Structure

1) Introduction:

The speaker's attitude toward life is one of joy and acceptance, while feeling a bond with nature that makes him feel calm and peaceful. In line 25, he uses simile to compare the daffodils' motion to "water troubled by a slight breeze." This simple image has been used throughout history to represent natural elements (including water), but what really gives this image meaning in this poem is its connection with his larger theme about human confusion and unease with their lives; in other words, we should not be troubled by the problems in life. The fact that he is able to make such a connection between the simple act of flowers dancing in the breeze and human problems shows that he has learned how life really works; we are lucky to have been born at this particular time period with all of these wonderful things around us, but if we do not appreciate them they will be wasted. He ends by saying that it is better to "be one" with nature than simply admire it.

2) Analysis:

The poet uses both figurative language (simile - water troubled by a slight breeze) and an extended metaphor (comparing humans to daffodils). These figures of speech help convey his message: life is peaceful and calm. 

3) Language Analysis:

Word choice and structure are important aspects in this poem. They are crucial because they convey the meaning of the message and help readers understand how it makes them feel. Specifically, daffodils describe flowers that represent life itself. The fact that Wordsworth compares flowers to humans demonstrates similarity between us; we all have feelings and emotions, even if they seem different on the outside. Also, he uses an extended metaphor (humans like daffodils) to work toward his idealistic thought- "it is better to be one with nature than simply admire it." Wordsworth's use of triple iambic pentameter helps evoke a calming feeling in readers by creating a rhythm similar to water; however, some may say that it is similar to human's breathing. 

4) Examples:

This poem uses simile (human as disk-like flowers) and extended metaphor (humans are like daffodils). These devices help the narrator create an image in the reader's mind, thus helping them understand what he is trying to express.

5) Analysis of Theme:

The theme of this poem is that you should not let little things in life bother you but rather just enjoy life for what it is; especially because we live in such a peaceful era compared to others. In line 38, he says that " The eye it cannot choose but see." This can be interpreted as saying "we all know right from wrong," but we do not have to stick with only the good and ignore the bad. This essentially means that you should try your best to take life as it comes, whether it is good or bad, and just enjoy every moment of it. (see how to write a thematic essay)

6) Conclusion:

In conclusion, I think that this poem uses certain linguistic devices to paint a picture in our minds of what he is feeling. Also, his use of figurative language (metaphor/simile and alliteration) helps us realize how his feelings contrast from those of most people today. There are quite a few reasons as to why this poem does not really fit into any genre; at the end he does make somewhat of a statement about society. Even though this poem does not really fit into any genre, I think that it is still effective in getting its point across to the reader.

7) Anecdotes:

I found it interesting how he talked about his friends and family as if they were daffodils dancing in the wind; he almost made them out to be the same thing (we all know right from wrong). I also thought that the fact that he said "the eye... cannot choose but see" was an interesting way of saying we should take things as they come and just enjoy life for what it is; otherwise, we are simply wasting our time with useless things like social media when there are actual real problems in the world.

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