A poetry explication is a relatively short analysis that 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.
Some things to cover in your paper:
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?
Finally, spend some time online and research both the poem and its author to see if this will yield some important additional information. Be sure to list the sources of any additional information you uncover in case your readers are interested in pursuing your leads. MLA style
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.
In the middle paragraphs mention such devices as attention to the plot, narrative, conflict, images, symbols, metaphors, and controlling ideas.
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
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
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.
POEM LINK: “Metaphors” by Sylvia Plath – Shenandoah (shenandoahliterary.org)
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