LitFINDER is a great site for explanations of poetry. It also has some literary criticism. For more famous poets, (Emily Dickinson, Langston Hughes, etc.) you will find a wealth of information. Go to the poem and then at the bottom you will see an explanation. For more obscure poets, it may be a bit more of a challenge.
Gale also has poetry resources. These are in Literature Resources from Gale. Similar to LitFinder, this resource includes literary criticism in scholarly articles. The Gale Virtual Reference Library includes entire e-books on individual authors, including literary criticism for poetry. You can view these articles and save them to your folder. LitFinder can be accessed from the same link. To use Gale from home, the password is empirelink.. LitFinder can be accessed from the same site.
The Modern American Poetry site is another great resource that comes to you from the Dept. of English at the University of Illinois. Here there are discussions of specific poems that may be helpful to you.
Public Library: Go to rcls.org / online resources / research databases / click on the literature tab and select Literature Resource Center (this looks just like our database, but this version seems to have more!)
Try Google Scholar or Google Books – experiment with search terms putting in the poem's title, author name, and the word "criticism". Many of the Google books are nearly complete.
Right on the library website is the Gale suite of databases that will lead you to academic journals with literary criticism. From home you will need to put in the password empirelink
Use OPALS to find books and use the following reference sources:
For many of the more famous poets, we have books of criticism solely for that poet. Use OPALS and conduct a subject search.
A Critical Survey of Poetry , Edited by Frank N. Magill (Ref. 809.1) . Use the index to look up your poet and then find the volume with the pages listed. Many students like this set because for each poet there are four or five pages of concise analysis/criticism discussing the poet's work as a whole, but also discussing specific poems.
American Writers, Edited by A. Walton Litz (REF 810 AME) is another resource that has been helpful to students in the past. Literary criticism is integrated with biographical information and while these volumes discuss an author's entire body of work, including prose, they can be very helpful for students studying just the poetry.
Please see Ms. Parker-Hennion if you have difficulty finding poetry or criticism for the poet(s) you have chosen. Go to the Ask the Librarian link and send an e-mail!