The term “explication” comes from a Latin participle of explico, which means to “unfold” or “disentangle.” The term is often applied to philosophy and to literature; in literature, it has become a procedure very important to New Criticism. In the process of explication, a reader forges a detailed analysis of the structural and figurative components within a work, focusing on ambiguities, multiple possibilities of interpretation, and interrelationships between various elements of the text.
This lesson introduces students to explication through the reading of a complex poem, practice explicating it as a class, and reading a model explication about the poem.
This lesson can take 40-60 minutes, depending on the size of your class.
Kotlarczyk, Adam, "Explicating Poetry: Shakespeare's Sonnet 46" (2012). Understanding Poetry. 8.