Poetry Essay
Minimum Length Requirement: 3 pages + works cited page
Formatting Requirements: MLA Format with header and page numbers, 12-point Times New Roman font in black ink, double-spaced, 1” margins – Also, be sure to include a title. You can have fun with it, but it needs to be clear and specific and indicate exactly which poem you are writing about (ex.: “She Sure is Ugly, but She’s My Lady”: An Explication of Shakespeare’s “My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun”). Do not forget to include the Honor Code at the end of your essay. You can include after your conclusion paragraph or on your works cited page.
Option 2: Poetry Analysis: Choose one of the poems we have covered and write an essay analyzing some of the elements used by the poet to convey his/her message in the poem. You may choose to analyze symbol and/or imagery in a poem (such as symbols of evil and oppression in “Lady Lazarus” or gothic imagery in “The Raven”), or perhaps the structure of the poem itself (such as the sonnet structure in “My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun”), or even a combination of a few different elements. This essay differs from an explication in that instead of focusing on the poem line-by-line, you will be focusing on certain literary elements and how they function to reveal the meaning of the poem.
***For both options, you will want to quote and cite specific passages from the poem in order to illustrate your points. Don’t just tell, but show.
***DO NOT, I REPEAT, DO NOT discuss a hypothetical reader or audience in your essay (ex.: “Here, the reader can see that…,” “This line makes the reader feel…”). When you do this, you are making the assumption that every single person who reads this text will have the same reaction, which we know is not true. Therefore, please do not incorporate this imaginary reader in your writing.
Things to Remember:
No use of 1st person (I, me, my, we, us, our) or 2nd person (you, your) voice.
Quotes, citations, and the works cited page must be formatted according to MLA guidelines.
If you merely write a summary of your chosen poem, or a “book report” style essay where you explain what you personally feel or think about the poem, you will receive an F.
If you perform research and consult secondary sources, you must cite your sources in your essay. You are not required to use secondary sources, but they are not off-limits. If you do choose to incorporate secondary sources, please use only sources that are scholarly in nature. Do not use “study websites” such as Spark Notes or Shmoop. ALL SECONDARY SOURCES MUST BE APPROVED BY ME BEFORE YOU UTILIZE THEM.
The introduction should introduce the poet and the title of the poem, provide a brief summary of the poem, and present the thesis, which should be both argumentative and analytical.
The body paragraphs should present your analysis of the poem itself, and the conclusion should reiterate your analytical argument and signal an overall significance of how your reading of the poem contributes to its meaning.
Never begin or end a paragraph with a quote or borrowed material. A paragraph should begin with a strong topic sentence and end with a strong concluding sentence.
Literary analysis is always in present tense. If presenting actual historical details, you will use past tense, but otherwise, the essay should be in present tense.
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Grading Rubric
This grading rubric applies to both the poetry essay and the fiction essay.
The A Essay will present a thesis that is tightly focused with a strong assertion or claim, provide quotations and examples that clearly demonstrate and support the claim presented in the thesis, display insightful understanding and analysis of the chosen text, be solidly developed, provide quotations and examples that are contextualized, explained, and woven smoothly into the discussion, exhibit strong diction and skillful use of language, use MLA style guidelines correctly, and contain few to no errors in grammar and punctuation.
The B Essay will present a thesis that is clear but without a strong assertion or claim, provide good quotations and examples but a less than complete analysis of or comment on the quotations, show an understanding of the chosen text but lack depth of analysis, present occasional generalizations or vague word choice, and contain a few errors in MLA, grammar, and punctuation.
The C & D Essay will present a thesis that is more of a fact or an announcement rather than a strong argumentative claim, present a focus that is unclear, include more summary than analysis, fail to provide sufficient quotes or citations or frequently misuse quotes, generalize about readers or topics outside the scope of the chosen work, present vague or unclear ideas, and contain several errors in MLA, grammar, and punctuation.
The F Essay will lack a clear, distinguishable thesis, provide a summary of the text or the writer’s personal feelings about the text in lieu of an analysis, fail to follow MLA style guidelines, fail to follow the guidelines established in the assignment, be incoherent and difficult to understand, and contain multitudinous errors in grammar and punctuation.
POEM TO WRITE ABOUT: “My Mistress’ Eyes are Nothing like the Sun” By William Shakespeare.

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