poem explication

INSTRUCTIONS: Choose one of John Donne’s love poems and write a brief explication of the poem. The essay should demonstrate your ability to critically analyze the selected poem (formal and non-formal aspects) to determine a valid meaning of the poem. This explication should be 500-750 words (2-3 pages, double spaced) and a close reading of the text only, with no sources referenced outside of the poem itself. The essay should be properly MLA formatted, including quotes from the relevant poem to illustrate your point, followed by a proper in-text citation. Don’t forget: poems are typically cited by line number.

For a review of poetry explication, see this guide:


For MLA formatting instructions see these guides:



All essays should be written in Times New Roman 12 point plain font. Essays are double spaced, include indented paragraphs with no extra space between paragraphs, and 1 inch margins on all (4) sides. Essays should be MLA format ONLY. Write in the third person objective voice, and prove/illustrate points with quotes and paraphrases from your primary and secondary sources, followed by the corresponding paragraph in-text (example: Goldman, 2003) and a separate Works Cited page at the end. Avoid the first person “I” subjective voice in graduate level scholarly writing.

Use only scholarly articles and books found through databases in research libraries. As a general rule, keep quotes to 2-3 lines maximum in these relatively short papers, and no more than 10-15% of the total paper. Focus first on your primary source(s) to prove your thesis and related points, and never allow a secondary source to make your argument for you. Avoid using introductory, encyclopedic, and editorial material as a source in graduate level work. Be sure not to make any technical errors, superficial and/or careless grammatical or content errors.


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