Essay #2: Analyzing Poetry
For your second essay, you will be writing an analysis of a poem chosen from the
“Snowmen” – Agha Ashad Ali
“Heritage” – Lorna Dee Cervantes
“The Question of Loyalty” – Mitsuye Yamada
“The Bridge Poem” – Donna Kate Rushin
“Going Home” – Maurice Kenny
Click on the link below to find a copy of this poem.
In your analysis, you will be offering an argumentative thesis about the poem, providing
a contextual framework for understanding the poem, and creating supportive body
paragraphs that isolate and interpret important poetic devices the poet uses to establish
the theme you’ve chosen to address. You will need to consort approved, external sources
in order to establish the contextual framework for the author and the poem, and you may
need to seek out external sources in order to understand any allusions in the poem.
Guidelines for Writing about Poetry
1. Follow our class rules to reading poetry
2. Determine what is literally happening in your chosen poem. Look up information
about the poet as well as unfamiliar words and allusions.
3. Fix on a theme you wish to pursue, and using supporting evidence from the poem
give an interpretation.
4. Try to understand how images, metaphors, symbolism, tone, diction, imagery, etc.
construct or inform main and secondary themes.
5. Get started. Compile on paper your ideas; link passages and consider just how
you will tie your ideas and textual passages together. Look back through your
notes, especially your textual annotations. Your prewriting is due alongside
your rough and final drafts.
1. Remember, you do not have to begin by writing your introduction first. You can
compose other paragraphs initially, if that helps you get started.
2. Your introduction must include: poem title, author, social or cultural framework
of the poem (relevant historical information about the poem, its themes, or its
author), and an argumentative thesis.
3a. Follow these guidelines as you write your body paragraphs: Include a very brief
description of what is literally happening in the poem. Take care not to over-
summarize the poem. Next, explicate the poem, looking carefully and
analytically at images, metaphors, allusions, etc. Explain how these poetic
devices work to inform the theme you’re addressing.
3b. Each paragraph following your introduction begins with a topic sentence that is
part and parcel of your thesis. These topic sentences, or minor claims, break the
thesis down into manageable pieces and should lend focus to your individual
paragraphs, allowing you further space to explore—one paragraph at a time.
3c. Your body paragraphs should utilize direct quotations and reference important
passages of dialogue, lines of narration, and recurrent or constitutive imagery. Let
the text guide you from start to finish.
3. In the conclusion, restate your thesis but in different words. Also, state “why your
thesis—as well as the analysis that supports and develops it—is relevant to the
larger issue identified in the introduction. What does your interpretation reveal
about that issue?” (A Writer’s Resource 122).
Your essay must:
1. Follow all MLA format and documentation guidelines.
2. Be at least 2 pages in length.
3. Include quotations from the poem.
4. Be accompanied by your prewriting and rough draft.
Breakdown of essay grade:
1. Poetry Exercise – 5 points
2. Prewriting – 5 points
3. Complete Rough draft – 10 points
4. Final draft – 80 points
To obtain full credit for each part, the assignment must be turned in on the day it is
due, as listed on the syllabus. Please refer to your syllabus for important due dates
regarding this essay.