explicating a poem

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Explicate this poem, “Unharvested” by Robert Frost:

A scent of ripeness from over a wall.
And come to leave the routine road
And look for what had made me stall,
There sure enough was an apple tree
That had eased itself of its summer load,
And of all but its trivial foliage free,
Now breathed as light as a lady’s fan.
For there had been an apple fall
As complete as the apple had given man.
The ground was one circle of solid red.

May something go always unharvested!
May much stay out of our stated plan,
Apples or something forgotten and left,
So smelling their sweetness would be no theft.

As discussed in class, explicating a poem involves a detailed analysis of the text, an

explanation of how the details contribute to the meaning and effect of the poem as a

whole. You need to look up and think about each reference or unusual term, and be

sure you understand each line. Your essay should include a statement of what you

think the poem’s meaning or “message” is, and why you reached that conclusion, based

on the specifics of the text.

You can organize your essay any way you choose; for example, you do not have to

start off with a summary of what the poem means. What you must do is account for all

parts of the poem, and show how each of them relates to the others and adds to the

overall effect.

* * * * *

Your essay should be approximately 1,000 words in length; it cannot be less than 800

words or more than 1,200. Format the essay in accordance with the instructions posted

on MyLearning (“Format for Essays Submitted in Response to the Writing


Be sure to provide concrete examples from the poem; when you use quotations, cite to

the specific line numbers. If you use any source other than the text of the poem,

provide an appropriate citation to that other source. At the end of the essay, provide a

list of the work or works cited, using the MLA format and including a ref

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