Poem Explication

I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

Poetry Explication Instructions


This past week, we learned about “translating” a poem; now, I want you to practice that and move toward analyzing the poem. I know poems are tricky, but everyone has the ability to understand a poem.

Your assignment is to choose one (1) poem from the Norton Introduction to Literature or one of the provided poems on the G drive. Your explication is due by the end of the day Friday April 2, 2021 in the corresponding dropbox of BBL.


Choosing the poem:

You may choose any poem or “chunk” of a poem that is at least 14 lines long. Your total of memorized lines of poetry must add up to at least 14 lines. (A sonnet is 14 lines; several of the poems I provide to you are 14 lines long; you could choose to memorize just 14 lines of a long poem.)


Poem Explication

What is it?

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. This can also be called a “close reading” of a poem. Follow the guide below to prepare for and complete the poem explication. If this information below is not enough, this site also has A LOT of helpful information: https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/poetry-explications/

The most important thing to remember for this assignment is that this is just another form of essay writing, so it should look like an essay. There should be an introduction with a thesis, a body with topic sentences, and a conclusion. Most importantly, you should document your sources through a works cited page and parenthetical citations.


1. Follow the link below to learn about closely reading a poem:


Purdue OWL // Poetry: Close Reading : there is also a slideshow at the bottom of this page. This slideshow is very helpful for breaking down the process step-by-step.


So, to review: A close reading is the careful, sustained analysis of any text that focuses on significant details or patterns and that typically examines some aspect of the text’s form, craft, meaning, etc.


Now, if you have not already (for those that were not in class) in your textbook, read pages 518-519 to learn about rhyme scheme.

· If you are still confused about this, there is a worksheet in the drive that explains it more (titled “rhyme scheme worksheet”).


2. Re-read and TRANSLATE the chosen poem. If you don’t understand the steps I gave you in class, use the ones that Purdue OWL gives you:

a. Read the poem slowly

b. Read it at least twice

c. Read it aloud

d. Annotate/define important words, images, phrases, and sections

3. Remember that you need to first understand the literal words before moving on to thinking about the text figuratively.

4. Once you understand the literal words of the poem, now move on to writing down your close reading. This all comes from the Purdue OWL PPT I point out in #1.

a. Understand the poem’s project/goal

i. Subject of the poem?

ii. Speaker?

iii. Larger context?

iv. Genre/mode?

b. Examine form and structure: how is the poem formed or put together?

i. What does the form contribute to the content?

c. Look closely at each line of the poem and begin analyzing

i. Line length and variation / line breaks / enjambed vs. end-stopped lines

ii. Look for places where form and line change

d. Look closely at language the poet uses — remember that language and figurative language work to alter the layers and associations working in a text.

i. Diction?

ii. Tone or mood?

iii. Images that stand out?

iv. Figurative language?

e. The job of the poet is to “make it new”

i. Does the poet combine unexpected elements, like form and subject?

ii. Does s/he employ an unusual perspective?

iii. How does the poet’s language make something new or surprising?

f. Make a claim about how the poem works or what the poet is doing (your thesis).

i. What is the overall effect of the whole poem’s crafting, and the elements that are part of the craft?

ii. Where does the poem take us (emotionally, intellectually, narratively, etc.)?

5. Now that you have a claim (thesis), write a short essay around that claim in which you prove it using evidence from the poems. NOTE: Check the “Quote Integration” PDF in G drive to see how you quote AND cite a poem (it is different than fiction) – should be document 4B in the Toolkit folder.



· MLA Format

· Documentation of sources

· You must use one additional secondary source as research

· Two things to remember:

1. For it to be considered research, you need to use it in your essay more than once, and

2. A secondary source makes an argument about a topic or analyzes a topic. A primary source only provides information or facts. So, if you use a primary source, you will not receive credit for this part of the requirement.

· Thesis-driven

· Length requirement: 3 full pages MINUMUM