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LIT 1000 Introduction to Literature Prof. Murphy: The Assignment

Poetry Essay Guide

Works Cited Page

The essay must contain a separate Works Cited page that gives references citing the poem (refer to our textbook) and at least four other sources.  The Works Cited page should be part of the same document as the essay, not a separate document (-5 point for separate document).  It is, however, a separate page.

Since this is a research paper, you will not receive a passing grade unless you do the required research, use parenthetical citations, and have a Works Cited page using up-to-date MLA style as reviewed in class.  Your Works Cited page and your parenthetical cites must match up.  You must cite your poem.

Your audience is the academic community.  Us MLA style and college-level grammar (remember don’t use slang and don’t use “you”).

For more information on Works Cited in MLA format look at the Online Writing Lab at Purdue University.


Length:  500-750 words (leeway is +/- 10% or 75 words)

Research: Four authoritative sources including the (1) source of your poem and (2) three other sources that explicate the poem.  Be sure to use Ms. Jernigan's recommended sources such as Literary Reference Center Plus and Artemis Literary Sources by Gale.  Do not use our textbook, Wikipedia, or study guides such as Schmoop, enotes, as sources, even as sources of your poem. Use only academic college-level sources.

Grading: Essay is worth 15% of the final grade. It's graded as follows: 80% content, 10% grammar, 10% MLA format.  Be sure you use up-to-date MLA citation form.

Remember this is a research paper; I want you to research the answers to the questions, not answer them from your own knowledge.

Topic: Explicate a poem by one of the poets in our literature textbook.  The word "explicate" mean "do a close reading of a work, carefully analyzing its elements."  

Organization of essay:  Use separate Introduction  and Conclusion paragraphs.  Body of essay should contain whatever number of paragraphs needed to fully develop your topic.  Be sure to include a thesis statement as the last sentence of the Intro and use a topic sentence to begin each Body paragraph.

Focus on the poem, not a biography of the author of the poem.  All explications should answer the following questions being sure to use the relevant vocabulary words:  

·          What is the theme of the poem?

·          What is the voice/speaker used in the poem (and is it a persona poem)?

·          What decisions did the poet make about word choice and word order?

·          Did the poet use formal diction or informal diction or a mixture of the two?

·          What imagery and figures of speech are found in the poem?

·          What meter and other sound effects are used?

·          What form did the poet use?

·          What allusions are made in the poem?

·          What symbolism is found in the poem?

Be sure to put any quotation inside quotation marks.  Use parenthetical citations for any exact  quotes or when you use ideas (summary or paraphrase) taken from research.

Subject Guide

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