analyzing romantic poetry

Analyzing Romantic Poetry

In this task, you will closely examine a poem from the Romantic period. You will then write an essay that explains the poem by presenting a claim about it and providing an argument to support the claim. Your essay will also include an analysis of how specific elements affect the poem as a whole.

Part A

Choose a poem by one of the following poets:

  • Thomas Gray
  • William Blake
  • William Wordsworth
  • Samuel Taylor Coleridge
  • Lord Byron
  • Percy Bysshe Shelley
  • John Keats

Below are some suggested poems for this activity:

However, if you prefer to work on a different poem, it’s a good idea to read through the entire instructions for this activity first to ensure that you choose a poem that is appropriate in length and complexity for the essay you’ll be submitting.

Which poem did you choose, and what influenced your selection?

Part B

Once you have chosen a poem, read it carefully.

What is the poem’s theme or central idea? How does the author use of figurative language or other poetic devices and what effect do those have on the poem? How would you describe the tone of the poem? How would you describe the structure or organization of the poem?

Part C

After you have read the poem thoroughly, present your analysis of the poem in an essay. Think of a major claim that you can make about the poem and build an argument to support that claim using evidence from the text. (An essay that contains such an argument is called an explication of a poem.) Your claim may be a specific interpretation of the poem, a view about the poet’s attitude toward the subject, the relationship of the subject to the historical context of the poem, the significance of some element of the poem’s form, or another similar type of analysis.

Your essay should include the following:

  • your interpretation of the poem
  • textual evidence to support your interpretation
  • an analysis of specific elements of the poem
  • a discussion of how specific elements of the poem (such as theme, figurative language, or structure) affect the meaning of the entire poem
  • a major claim about the poem
  • an argument to support your claim

Use Internet resources for help on crafting your essay, such as the ones below:

You can also consult other essays and discussions about the poem you choose. Be sure to cite any ideas in your essay that came from the Internet or other sources, and remember to cite all the resources you used for ideas as well as direct quotes in your essay by using in-text citations and providing a works cited list in MLA format.

Insert your essay in the space provided.

Part D I will do myself

Part E

Next, write briefly about how you revised your essay, addressing the following points:

  • Did you revise certain sections of the explication?
  • What was the reasoning behind your decision to revise those sections?
  • How do you feel about the results of the revisions?
  • Analyze your choices in revision based on the checklist. How does your essay align with the revision checklist?


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