Raritan Valley Community College Poetry Sex Without Love by Sharon Olds Analysis

Assignment Sheet: Analytical Essay 2: Poetry

By the end of the poetry unity you have considered many elements of poetry and have familiarized yourself with terms associated with discussing poems. The purpose of this essay is to give you the opportunity to complete an in-depth analyze a single poem using the basic terminology and concepts for understanding poetry that you have learned about.


Choose a poem from any of the following sections in the book and write an essay that analyzes that particular poem in detail makes an argument for how the elements of the poem suggest a specific meaning/theme/message:

  • Chapter 12: Any poem from “Exploring Gender: An Album” (783-793)
  • Chapter 13: Any poem from “Homelands: An Album” (821-828)
  • Chapter 14: Any poem from “Family: An Album” (845-853)
  • Chapter 15: “London” by William Blake; “Pied Beauty” by Gerard Manley Hopkins; “Blandeur” by Kay Ryan; “white paper #24” by Marth Collins; “Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda” by A.E. Stallings
  • Chapter 16: “Poems for Further Study” (878-862)
  • Chapter 17: “Poems for Further Study” (890-898)
  • Chapter 18: “Poems for Further Study” (914-916); “Words and Music: An Album” (919-928)

You want to analyze the poem in ways that demonstrate your understanding of the elements of poetry (speaker, situation and setting, theme and tone, language, visual imagery and figures of speech, symbol, and sounds). You do not have to include every element of poetry in your essay, but your essay should include enough terminology to demonstrate your ability to discuss the poem in concrete ways.

This essay is argumentative, which means that your thesis should be arguable and should be driven by analysis. Assume that your audience has read the poem but has not thought as deeply about it as you have. Your thesis statement could be something like: “In (title of poem), (poet’s name) uses a central metaphor to create the message that _________________ (here you would be specific about theme/idea/message you think the metaphor suggests)” (That is just one example.)  Be sure to be specific about the specific theme/message/meaning you are arguing for.  Use the sample poetry analysis as an example of a detailed outline for a paper like this and the Sample Essay on p757-759 of our textbook as an example of a what an essay like this might look like. 

Choose specific examples from the poem that are relevant to your argument, and remember to make sure that your quotes are introduced, analyzed/explained, and properly cited.

Like the first analytical essay, you should not consult outside sources. Your task here is to provide your own in-depth analysis.

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