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Language Arts: Mrs. Garcia
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Poetry Analysis: Expository Paragraph Assignment


Write an expository paragraph in which you choose one element of a poemit might be a certain trope that is important, or imagery, or a special use of diction, or the voice of the speakerand show how it contributes to the poems meaning or theme. Use TP-CASTT as a preliminary step to help you understand the poem, then write the paragraph. (Your TP-CASTT should be done on a separate sheet of paper, not in your poetry packet.) The final draft of the paragraph must be typed, double-spaced, and accompanied by the rough draft.



You may write on one of the following poems (in your packet on pp. 13-14):


LA 8H:

             "Barter" by Sara Teasdale

             "Mirror" by Sylvia Plath

             "We Wear the Mask" by Paul Laurence Dunbar


LA 8:

             "A Poison Tree" by William Blake

             "Identity" by Pablo Neruda Polanco

             "We Wear the Mask" by Paul Laurence Dunbar


Forming the Paper:

  • Read the poem carefully several times, working through TP-CASTT to help you understand it. Be sure to focus on connotation; look closely at its use of poetic devices (diction, imagery, tropes and schemes, speakers voice or attitude, shifts) and their effects. Why does the poet use them? Choose ONE of these that seems especially important or that you find interesting and necessary to the poem as a whole. Determine the meaning/theme of the poem (what the poem is saying about the world, human life).
  • Once you have decided upon the theme of the poem, use this to construct your topic sentence. The transition sentence that follows this topic sentence must introduce the one poetic device you will discuss in your paragraph. Quote the parts of the poem that show the device you use in an example sentence (support). Then spend several sentences explaining the effect of this device. It is not enough to simply say, This line contains a metaphor. You must say, The metaphor in this line, which compares love with a star used by sailors to mark direction, shows that love is a guide by which we can direct our lives. (from Sonnet 116) You should have at least three supports.
  • Give your paragraph a title


  Assignment                   Due Date            Grade Value

   1st TP-CASTT of poem    2/10 - 2/11            daily grade

  2nd TP-CASTT of poem    2/19 - 2/20            quiz grade

Topic sentence and        2/23 - 2/24            daily grade

supports in dialectical

journal format

    Rough Draft                  2/27 - 3/1             daily grade

      Final Draft                   3/4 - 3/5                major grade




Topic sentence: In Sonnet 116, Shakespeare shows that love is a guide which, though unknown, can lead us through problems in any relationship.

[Notice that the poem title and the authors name are given. Also notice that the rest of the sentence is the poems central theme.]


Transition sentence: His use of metaphor reveals the mysterious nature of love.

[This transition sentence not only makes the connection between the topic sentence and the first support, it also names the one poetic device on which the paragraph will focus, and explains its contribution to the theme of the poem.]


1st support: He identifies love with a star to every wandering bark,/Whose worths unknown, though his height be taken.

[This sentence uses a direct quotation of one of the metaphors as support. Notice that it is blended with the writers own words. Also notice that a slash is used to indicate a separation of lines in the original poem.]


Commentary: By comparing love to the north star, the sailors point of direction when lost on the sea, Shakespeare shows that it indeed serves as a guide for people involved in a relationship. The mysteriousness of this guide is signified by its being unknown though it can, to some extent, be measured. The fact that love cannot be defined is further emphasized by metaphor, as he never tells us what love actually is but only compares it to something else.

[Notice that three sentences were spent explaining the one metaphor and how it illustrates the theme. Also, the clause, By comparing love to the north star, is a transition phrase that connects the commentary with the support.]



TP-CASTT Rubric:


        The paraphrase is thorough and accurate.

Excellent         Good               Average          Needs Improvement


        The connotation step is clear and detailed. Every line has been examined for poetic devices, and their connection to meaning is explained.

            Excellent         Good               Average          Needs Improvement


        The speakers attitude is clearly and accurately explained.

            Excellent         Good               Average          Needs Improvement


        Shifts are accurately identified and explained.

            Excellent         Good               Average          Needs Improvement


        Theme statement is a clear, fresh, and concise statement of the poems message/meaning.

            Excellent         Good               Average          Needs Improvement