Do you think the poem is successful in conveying a message or portraying experiences, thoughts or feelings? What does the poem make you think or feel?
No explication can take into account everything that goes on in a poem. So your paper should focus on one or two elements that you think contribute to the overall meaning or purpose of the story. A good explication concentrates on details: you should quote portions of the story to show how the text supports your thesis. Then you should offer comments that show how the portion you’re interpreting contributes to the story as a whole.
Read the poem, “If” under “Reading and Tools.” Prepare a 1 – 2 page essay as a personal response to the poem as a whole.
If, by Rudyard Kipling (broken down and numbered by stanza):
1) If you can keep your head when all about you Are losing theirs and blaming it on you, If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you But make allowance for their doubting too,
2) If you can wait and not be tired by waiting, Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies, Or being hated, don’t give way to hating, And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
3) If you can dream–and not make dreams your master, If you can think–and not make thoughts your aim; If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster And treat those two impostors just the same;
4) If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools, Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken, And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
5) If you can make one heap of all your winnings And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss, And lose, and start again at your beginnings And never breathe a word about your loss;
6) If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew To serve your turn long after they are gone, And so hold on when there is nothing in you Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”
7) If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, Or walk with kings–nor lose the common touch, If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you; If all men count with you, but none too much, 8) If you can fill the unforgiving minute With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run, Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it, And–which is more–you’ll be a Man, my son!
INTRODUCTION (1 paragraph)
Use key words from the essay title in a brief description of what the poem is about. Comment briefly on the themes, issues, thoughts and feelings the poem explores. Identify the narrator, the tone and viewpoint of the poem.
STRUCTURE (1 or 2 paragraph)
Divide the poem into sections and explain in more detail what the poem is about, section by section. Write about the development of ideas and themes from one section to another and one stanza to another. Consider the significance of shifts in tone between sections. Consider the shape of stanzas, line length, sentence length, enjambment and caesura.
DICTION (WORDS) (1 or 2 paragraphs)
Write about the significance and effect of the poems words and their connotations. Look at semantic fields, hyperbole, contrasts, allusions, level of formality etc. Include short quotations and analysis of the effects of language.
IMAGERY (1 or 2 paragraphs)
Write about the significance and effect of the imagery used in the poem. Consider symbolism, metaphors, similes, personification, oxymoron etc. Include short quotations and analysis of the effects of language.
GRAMMATICAL FEATURES (1 or 2 paragraphs)
Write about the functions of word classes. Consider nouns, pronouns, verbs, adverbs, adjectives, conjunctions, prepositions, articles. Also consider syntax. Include short quotations and analysis of the effects of language. Only write about features which have significant effects.
SOUNDS (1 or 2 paragraphs)
Write about the significance of rhyme, rhythm and meter. Consider the use of repetition .Consider alliteration, sibilance, assonance, short and long vowel sounds, harsh or soft consonant sounds and onomatopoeia.