Poetry Analysis

How to move from the explication to the essay
Opening Paragraph
 The first paragraph
 The first paragraph should present the large issues;
it should inform the reader which conflicts are
dramatized and should describe the dramatic
situation of the speaker.
 The explication does not require a formal
introductory paragraph; the writer should simply
start explicating immediately.
 A good way to begin: “The poem “to the Virgins, to
Make Much of Time” by Robert Herrick, dramatizes
the conflict between …” Such a beginning ensures
that you will introduce the major conflict or theme in
the poem and organize your explication accordingly.
 The next paragraphs
 The next paragraphs should expand the
discussion of the conflict by focusing on
details of form, rhetoric, syntax, and
vocabulary. In these paragraphs, the writer
should explain the poem line by line in terms
of these details, and he or she should
incorporate important elements of rhyme,
rhythm, and meter during this discussion.
 The conclusion??
 The explication has no formal concluding
paragraph; do not simply restate the main
points of the introduction! The end of the
explication should focus on sound effects or
visual patterns as the final element of
asserting an explanation.
Herrick’s sixteenth century poem“To the Virgins to
Make Much of Time” dramatizes the conflict between
committing to marriage and the swift passage of time. The
speaker in the poem, a young man, uses an urgent tone and
images of passing time to encourage the woman to be
aware that time will not wait for her and her commitment
needs to be made soon. He reminds her that her youth will
pass as quickly as wilting flowers, the passage of a day, and
a race being run. She will lose the warmth of youth as time
always wins. He finally reminds her that being “coy” will
allow her youth to disappear and she will always be waiting
for what will never be. Through the use of metaphors,
personification, rhyme, and the arrangement of stanzas,
Herrick conveys his theme of carpe diem.
Paragraph 2
The first stanza of the poem emphasized the
ideas of quickly passing time through the metaphor of
the flowers. Herrick begins his poem with an
imperative sentence, “Gather ye rosebuds while ye
may/ Old Time is still a fly’n” (1,2). The flowers being
fresh or young is reinforced by the word “smiling,” and
the reminder that tomorrow “they will be dying”
indicates that time will not stop. “Old Time” is
personified as the upper case indicates . Referring to
Time as “Old” gives a sharp contrast to the swiftness
but relentlessness of youth. The rhyme scheme abab
emphasizes the words “a-flying” and “be dying,” and
illustrates the contrast between the two. The regular
meter gives a the poem a quick pace, mirroring the
fast passage of time.
Paragraph 3
Moving from the reminder of time moving fast, the next
stanza begins a series of metaphors that further illustrate the
idea that time waits for no one. “The glorious lamp of heaven,
the sun”/the higher he’s a getting,” gives the image of a passing
day (5,6). By using the words “glorious” to describe the sun
appeals to the sense of sight, and the speaker continues the
metaphor of the sun meshed with the image a the “race be run”
with the setting sun in the next line: “The sooner will his race be
run,/ and nearer he’s to setting” (7,8). The sense of finality is
evident here, and the continuing rhyme pattern and meter that is
consistent with the first moves the poem in the same unstopping
manner. The use of the words “higher” and “nearer” give the
sense that time is gaining on the young girl, and the rhyme
continues to quicken the pace, just as time is quickly passing.
Tips to remember
 Refer to the speaking voice in the poem as the
speaker” or “the poet.” For example, do not write, “In
this poem, Wordsworth says that London is beautiful in
the morning.” However, you can write, “In this poem,
Wordsworth presents a speaker who…” We cannot
absolutely identify Wordsworth with the speaker of the
poem, so it is more accurate to talk about “the
speaker” or “the poet” in an explication.
 Use the present tense when writing the explication.
The poem, as a work of literature, continues to exist!
 To avoid unnecessary uses of the verb “to be” in your
compositions, the following list suggests some verbs
you can use when writing the explication:
 Use a slant between two lines of poetry
 Punctuate line citations after the quotes and
before the period, but retain the poet’s
capitalization and punctuation.
 “Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,/Old Time
is still a-flying;” (1,2).
Verbs to use
 dramatizes
underlines asserts
portrays contrasts
shows addresses

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