Skip Nav

Sample Poetry Analysis Paper

Poetry Analysis Essay: What Does It Entail?

❶Then read it out loud again. When a mother is fostering a child, she frequently uses a rocking chair to encourage it to sleep.

How to Write Poem Explication Essay

Quick Guide to Writing Poetry Explications
Legal Stuff
“Filling Station” by Elizabeth Bishop: Overview

Let the poem dictate to you. The extra dimension of poetry is in its insistence that meaning cannot be divorced from form.

The purpose of an explication is to show, for an individual poem, how this is true. Therefore an explication is a discussion of the art and craft of language. An explication shows how the form deepens the meaning of the content.

Look up words you DO understand, to help you articulate connotations. Become a dictionary addict. Make friends with the OED. Here is some of the specialized vocabulary of your profession; extremely beautiful and useful words.

Writing Studies Graduate Faculty: State, very literally and in one or two sentences, what the poem is about. What is the most obvious statement you can make about the situation that the poem concerns itself with? What is the emotion of the poem? To whom is the speaker talking: How does the audience of the poem affect it? Look at the poem. Describe the form of the poem, the design it makes on the page.

For instance, is it divided into stanzas? Does it have long or short lines, or irregular? How does the form contribute to the content?

Is it an inherited form sonnet, sestina, etc. Listen to the sounds of the poem. Does it use alliteration repetition of beginning consonant sounds? Does it have an interesting rhythm? What do the words sound like? Are they smooth, or harsh, or lilting, or dull?

Do they move quickly or slowly? How did the poet organize the poem, and why? The ambiguity of the scene, wherein we know nothing of the place, circumstances, or identities of the couple, seems secondary to other considerations, most notably the voltas encountered in the poem and the bleak direction they lead the reader: Other phrases are just as telling in indicating the overall negative feel of the poem. So too, the opening line of the twice-repeated stanza—"Counting the beats"—does not supply a subject as to who does the counting or why it becomes necessary.

We must suspect that the implied subject of the line points to the couple themselves, as they count the beats of their wakeful hearts in a quiet, still time that does not give rest or bring them closer together. The two have few words to exchange with one another and, because they apparently do not wish to disturb each other further, each whispers.

Moreover, their love seems to flow in the wrong direction as their blood does not stimulate, "course" through them with passion, but bleeds out like slow suicide, like self-inflicted wounds. So it is that the simple events and intimate setting of the man and woman, those that often situate couples in love poems, here suggest love as a negative: Once again, the simplicity of the language indicates that feel or impression.

To her question of where they shall be "When death strikes home," he responds "Not there but here. His rejoinder of a negative and contradiction—"Not there but here"—not only summarizes their predicament, it limits the range of how much we as readers should care. After all, no specifics are available: We remain all too familiar with the "here" of the lovers, a depressing place of limitation, absent passion, and the entropy of love—wasted energy that affords no use. Indeed, the narrator underscores this fatalism, who, as an omniscient observer possesses more knowledge of the future than do they.

How this information may be possible does not interest us as readers, because we focus on the simplicity—the language, the setting, the ambiguous but unfettered relationship—and thus take for granted that any future for the pair must be as uncomplicated in its inevitability as are the events and conversation that precede it. Now "Cloudless day" reads more like an absence of something as opposed to safety or the freedom from care; we feel a cyclical sameness, boredom, and the inevitability of time, and with it an inevitable future: Troubles and pain to come are not generic; "the" storm, as opposed to one of generality, forces readers once again to appreciate the couple as fated, a fact the narrator shares with us at their expense.

And still the reasons remain ambiguous: Have they failed to involve themselves in events so as to cause what is to come? Or is such a future one that demonstrates that their choice to be removed from the world reflects a selfishness offering no excuse and no freedom from pain? Fatalism suggests not only finality but unfairness. What could these two do to change the future? What will that future be; what does the "huge storm" entail?

While all of these questions appear important, the tone of the poem remains dismissive, posing them in ambiguity. Even the narrator, who, if removed from the mood of the work, seems intrusive—prying, at best—does not appear out of place.

Indeed, no scene exists but that which we conjure by virtue of our response to the dialogue of two lovers. And in this instance, we realize that the tone or feel of what is said surpasses what takes place. We glean more from the texture of the words and their manner of expression, simplicity in the extreme, than descriptive phrases could possibly detail for us about the two.


Main Topics

Privacy Policy

Poetry Explications What this handout is about A poetry explication is a relatively short analysis which describes the possible meanings and relationships of the words, images, and other small units that make up a poem.

Privacy FAQs

Essay #1: Poetry Explication. 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.

About Our Ads

Writing poetry explication essay is not an easy task. This complete writing guide will help you learn about explication paper structure and format. (Poetry is a spoken art; it needs the human voice, your voice, to really live.) All of the following can be part of a written explication, depending on the poem. Let the poem dictate to you.

Cookie Info

Free Essay: Explication of Richard Cory The poem "Richard Cory" by Edwin Arlington Robinson is a poem written about the town aristocrat named. A poetry explication is a relatively short analysis which 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.