Poetry and Lyrics as Argument
Interpret the poem or song lyrics and support your position using evidence from the text.
Look at condensed language and not only form an interpretation of the words but also argue your position: That is the assignment when writing an essay about poetry. As a reader, you examine and even evaluate the work. As an essayist, you write about your understanding of the piece. Choose a central idea such as figurative language, theme, topic or even cultural relevance and use the poem/lyrics to support your interpretation.
An argumentative essay about poetry or lyrics carries the same structure as most essays: introduction, body and conclusion. For the introductory paragraph, use a strong quotation from the poem as the hook, give some background and end the introduction with your thesis statement: one sentence stating your interpretation of the poem. For example, you might write, “Sylvia Plath’s exaggerated comparisons in her poem ‘Daddy’ display her guilt over her father’s death.” Use multiple claims to support your thesis statement, each with a unique point: the sing-song rhyming, the narrator’s identity crisis and her admission of a suicide attempt, for example. End with a conclusion that mirrors the introduction, except instead of a hook, relate your interpretation to concerns in the world outside the poem.
You May Wish to Consider:
Since poetry and lyrics often time use so few words, each one counts. Poets and songwriters commonly used figures of speech to enhance meaning. Similes, with their telltale “like” or “as” in the middle of comparisons, are easy to spot. However, look especially for metaphors, the comparison of two things seemingly unalike; their meaning often goes deeper than that of similes.
Writing an argumentative essay about poetry means taking an interpretive position and supporting it with evidence. Use evidence from the poem or lyrics and explain your interpretation of each quotation explicitly. Quotations can be direct or indirect, or you may summarize pieces of the poem. Relate all evidence and explanations to your central idea. It may also be useful to consider the historical, political or social context of the poem if it bolsters your claim. For example, when writing about Wilfred Owen’s “Dulce et Decorum Est,” it is important to note that the poem is from the World War I era, as the imagery relates directly to tactics used in that war.
Consider the importance of the message to a particular community. Why is this song/poem important? What does it say to the audience and for the audience?
Length: 350-500 words
Visual Element: It must be accompanied by a visual element
Include a copy of the poem/song
MLA format and work cited are not required
Due Date: See Canvas