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Poetry Analysis Paper
This assignment is asking you to pick a poem from the chapter “Poems for Further Reading” in your textbook or poetryfoundation.org. Write an essay that identifies one of the major themes in the poem and the poetic devices used by the poet to develop that theme. Use TWO critical sources. They can be about the poet, the poem, the subject of the poem, or the historical/cultural context of the poem.
Organizing Your Analysis
The introduction should end with your arguable, original thesis. Your thesis should make a claim about what the poem’s theme is and how specific poetic devices like the title, imagery, figures of speech, tone, persona, etc. are used to arrive at this theme.
Don’t forget to use the quote sandwich formula when working with the primary source, the poem you’re analyzing, and the secondary sources, your research. Immediately after the intro and thesis, provide a summary of the poem. Pay particular attention to connotations, but remember to describe the surface level of the poem before going deeper. This summary /analysis should be specific and should be revised from the line-by-line paraphrase you completed as Prewrite 1.
The other paragraphs should be structured by topic sentences that work to support the larger claims you’ve made in your thesis. The poem’s lines should be used and cited. Your logical interpretation should be emphasized with supplemental support from your secondary sources acting as backup. The paper should be 80% your original thinking and 20% source material.
Some questions to consider in your summary and analytical points:
• Who is the speaker?
• What circumstances gave rise to the poem?
• What situation is presented?
• Who or what is the audience?
• What is the tone?
• Does the poem spring from an identifiable historical moment?
• Does the poem speak from a specific culture?
• Does the poem use imagery to achieve a particular effect? How?
• What kind of figures of speech, if any, does the poem use?
• If the poem is a question, what is the answer?
• If the poem is an answer, what is the question?
• What does the title suggest?
• Does the poem use unusual words or use words in an unusual way?
You can fall back on these questions as needed, but experience suggests that since each poem is unique, such questions will not go the necessary distance. In many instances, knowing who the speaker is may not yield any useful information. There may be no identifiable occasion that inspired the poem. But poems do offer clues about where to start. Asking questions about the observable features of a poem will help you find a way in.
When incorporating the secondary sources, it’s best to do this AFTER you’ve thoroughly analyzed the poem. Now that you understand it, go beyond it to its larger significance. Use the quote sandwich formula to help you develop your paragraphs and make important connections.
Your final paragraph should provide a conclusion that does not repeat previous points, but instead concludes the analysis by opening a new door of thought. Perhaps this is the place to consider cultural context, if you haven’t already done so. Cultural Context: How does the poem you are looking at relate to the historical context in which it was written? These questions may take you out of the literature section of your library altogether and involve finding out about philosophy, history, religion, economics, music, or the visual arts.
The final portfolio will include your pre-writes and your final draft.
Poetry Analysis Paper
This assignment is asking you to pick a poem from the chapter “Poems for Further Reading” in your textbook or poetryfoundation.org. Write an essay that identifies one of the major themes in the poem and the poetic devices used by the poet to develop that theme. Use TWO critical sources.