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Poetry and Critical Analysis Assignment

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Paper Assignment: Poetry and Critical Emphasis on the Text
For your third formal paper in this course, you will write a critical essay on TWO poems
selected from those listed on the course syllabus or from the “Reading More Poetry” section of
The Norton Introduction to Literature (685-750). If you wish, you may write a compare/contrast
essay, but you do not necessarily need to structure your analysis in this way.
At its core, this will be yet another close reading, and you should therefore focus the bulk of your
analysis on form, theme, symbols, sounds, and other elements of poetry discussed in class and/or
in the textbook. The best papers will consider both the “interior” meaning or content of the
poems and their “exterior” qualities of sound and appearance.

But this paper also MUST use at least one of the three critical citations––from Jacques Derrida,
Roland Barthes, and Robert Pinsky––included on the second page of this assignment sheet. And
the quotations you chose must guide your critical approach to the poems. These citations can be
challenging to understand and to work with, but they are listed in order from most to least
difficult. In order to complete the assignment, you may quote briefly from only the least difficult
citation, but students will be given the most credit for using more difficult, or multiple, citations.
As usual, you must state and prove a clear, but debatable thesis. Make sure that you support your
argument with demonstrable observations from the texts and that you use the theoretical citations
to shape and inform your analysis.
-This paper must be at least THREE to FOUR pages long.
-You MUST cite directly from at least two poems and from at least one of the critical texts using
MLA format for parenthetical citations. Support your own claims with these quotations.
-You must include a works cited page according to proper MLA format. Also, check the syllabus
for other requirements for your written work.
-A free guide to MLA format is available online at:

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