Poetry Explication

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Introduction to poetry explication.

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  • Poetry Explication

    1. 1. Explicating Poetry What It Is and How to Do It
    2. 2. What is Explication? • Analysis of a poem • Describes meaning • Describes relationships of words, images, and other parts of a poem • Connects poem’s plot and conflicts with its structure
    3. 3. Preparing to Write • Read poem silently, then read it aloud • Think of it as a dramatic situation, audience address • Identify and describe the voice or voices • Identify and describe conflicts and ideas • Describe language used
    4. 4. The Design • Identify who, what, when, where, why, and how • Form (sonnet? sestina? free verse?) • Rhetoric • Syntax • Vocabulary
    5. 5. Patterns • Rhetorical patterns • Rhyme • Sound patterns • Visual patterns • Rhythm and meter
    6. 6. Metrical Terms to Know • Meter: recurrence of regular beats • Foot: basic unit of meter • Iambic (iamb): foot of poetry with unstressed syllable followed by stressed • Trochaic (trochee): foot of poetry with stressed syllable followed by unstressed • Anapestic (anapest): foot of poetry with two unstressed syllables followed by one stressed • Dactylic (dactyl): foot of poetry with one stressed syllable followed by two stressed
    7. 7. Types of Meter • Monometer: one beat • Dimeter: two beats • Trimeter: three beats • Tetrameter: four beats • Pentameter: five beats • Hexameter: six beats
    8. 8. Scansion • To “scan” a poem = to determine its metrical pattern
    9. 9. Rhythm • How a line is spoken, e.g. iambic pentameter
    10. 10. Writing the Explication • First paragraph: discuss large issues (who, what, when, where, why, how), conflicts, dramatic situation of speaker • Next paragraphs discuss details of form, rhetoric, syntax, vocabulary • The conclusion: sound effects and visual patterns to assert explanation
    11. 11. Tips • Refer to the speaker of the poem as “the speaker” or “the poet”; the speaker may not necessarily be the poet • Use present tense • Avoid uses of the verb “to be”
    12. 12. Good Verbs dramatizes asserts contrasts addresses presents posits juxtaposes emphasizes illustrates enacts suggests stresses characterizes connects implies accentuates underlines portrays shows enables

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