ENG 205: Poetry

Spring 2013

Instructor: Claire Laville

Office hours: Jazzman’s Café (Woodruff Lib.), TBA

This class will introduce students to major forms, movements, and controversies in Anglophone poetry, with particular focus on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Students will be responsible for selecting about a quarter of our readings. Evaluation will be based on short blog posts, leading class discussions, formal debates, quizzes, and a final project that will require students to familiarize themselves with an aspect of the “canon” and reshape it at the same time.

Required texts:

The Making of a Poem: A Norton Anthology of Poetic Forms. Ed. Mark Strand and Eavan Boland. New York: Norton, 2000. [9780393321784]

The Open Door: One Hundred Poems, One Hundred Years of Poetry Magazine. Ed. Don Share and Christian Wiman. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2012. [9780226750705]

Key to sources:

MP = The Making of a Poem
OD = The Open Door
E = Electronic reserves (
PF = Poetry Foundation
RPO = Representative Poetry Online

Syllabus (subject to change)

Wed. Jan. 16 Introductions. “What is a poem?”
W.H. Auden, “In Memoriam W.B. Yeats”
Aaron Kunin, “The Sore Throat” [handed out in class]
Fri 18 Auden and Kunin, cont’d.
Poetic meter
John Hollander, from Rhyme’s Reason: accentual-syllabic verse, lines (pp. 8-11) [E]
Edgar Allan Poe, “The Raven” (Or, if you prefer, The Simpsons version)
William Blake, “The Sick Rose”
Mon. 21 Martin Luther King, Jr. Day: NO CLASS
Wed. 23 Meter, continued.
Fri. 25 The sonnet: Form, schemes, tropes
Shakespeare, #2 (When forty winters shall besiege thy brow)
73 (That time of year thou mayst in me behold)
116 (Let me not to the marriage of true minds)
121 (‘Tis better to be vile than vile esteemed)
130 (My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun)
136 (If thy soul check thee that I come so near)
Hollander, pp. 19-21 (sonnets); pp. 48-49 (rhetorical schemes) [E]
Mon. 28 Shakespeare, continued.
Wed. 30 First prepared reading from The Open Door (4-8 mins.; cont. every Mon/Wed, with blog post due the following class)John Donne, from Holy Sonnets“At the round earth’s imagined corners”
“Batter my heart…”
“I am a little world…”
Fri. Feb. 1 Nineteenth-century sonnets 
P. B. Shelley, “Ozymandias” [MP 62]
John Keats, “Bright Star” [MP 62]
Gerard Manley Hopkins, “Carrion Comfort” [MP 64]
Edna St. Vincent Millay, “What My Lips Have Kissed…” [MP 64, 71-72]
Mon. 4 I. A. Richards, from Principles of Literary Criticism, chs. 22, 25: “The Availability of the Poet’s Experience,” “Badness in Poetry” [E]
W. K. Wimsatt and Monroe Beardsley, “The Intentional Fallacy” (sections I, II, IV); “The Affective Fallacy” (pp. 21-23, 31-34) [E]
Wed. 6 Twentieth-century sonnets:
Gwendolyn Brooks, “Gay Chaps at the Bar,” “‘Still Do I Keep My Look, My Identity…'” [PF]; “The Children of the Poor” [OD 112-13]
e. e. cummings, “Tulips and Chimneys”
Jane Cooper, “After the Bomb Tests”
Seamus Heaney, “Haw Lantern”
Denis Johnson, “Heat” [MP 66-69]
Fri. 8 Argument workshop: first paragraph of “Fallacy” paper due
Mon. 11 “Fallacy” paper due
Pastoral and courtship poetry
Andrew Marvell, “To His Coy Mistress,” “The Garden” [MP 210-12]
Recommended: Christopher Marlowe, “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love” [MP 209-10]; Sir Walter Raleigh, “The Nymph’s Reply to the Shepherd”; John Donne, “The Bait”
Wed. 13 Marvell, “The Garden” cont’d. William Empson, from Some Versions of Pastoral [E]
John Keats, “Ode on a Grecian Urn” [MP 214]
Fri. 15 Today’s class in MARBL, Harris Room
Mon 18 Quiz: Meter and rhetorical terms
Wed 20 Versions of pastoral?
Philip Larkin, “The Explosion” [MP 218-19]
Derek Walcott, “Midsummer, Tobago” [220]
Robert Hass, “Meditation at Lagunitas” [226] (recommended: Sylvia Plath, “Blackberrying”
Louise Glück, “Mock Orange” [234]
Mary Oliver, “The Black Walnut Tree” [235]
Medebh McGuckian, “Gateposts” [236]
Fri. 22 MP: “Pastoral” chapter, 218-39; we will concentrate on the poems above
Mon. 25 Eighteenth-century transitions: from Augustan to Romantic
John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester, “The Imperfect Enjoyment” [RPO]
Jonathan Swift, “The Lady’s Dressing Room” [RPO]
Alexander Pope, from An Essay on Criticism [MP 129-30]
Recommended: Pope, An Essay on Man, Epistle 1
Wed. 27 Pope, An Essay on Criticism, Part 1 (recommended: Essay on Man, above)
William Wordsworth, from the Preface to Lyrical Ballads (1800) [E];
“Expostulation and Reply” and “The Tables Turned” (pp. 1-6);
“The Idiot Boy” [E]
Fri. March 1 Student-led classes:
Grace: biography of William Ernest Henley at PoemHunter; Henley’s “Invictus”
Jessica: W. H. Auden, “Museé des Beaux Arts”; “September 1, 1939”; “Woods” [e-reserves]
Mon. 4 Wordsworth, “She Dwelt Among the Untrodden Ways”
“A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal”
“Tintern Abbey”
“Ode (Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood)”
Wed. 6 Samuel Taylor Coleridge, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” (1817) [E]
Fri. 8 No class
“Pastoral” paper due by 9:00 pm
March 11-15 SPRING BREAK
Mon. 18 Walt Whitman, “I Sing the Body Electric” (1855); “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” (1856) [E]
Student-led class (Chandini): Shelley, “Ozymandias”; Robert Browning, “The Lost Leader”; Richard Blanco, “One Today”
Wed. 20 Christina Rossetti, “Goblin Market”
View some of Rossetti’s illustrations of her “children’s” poem, and some twentieth-century re-imaginings, courtesy of Memorial University Libraries. (Optional: illustrations of the poem from a 1973 issue of Playboy–these paintings are sexually explicit and potentially offensive)
Fri. 22 Student-led classes 4, 5
Mon. 25 Modernism(s)
W.B. Yeats, “The Wild Swans at Coole”
“The Second Coming”
“Among School Children”
“Leda and the Swan”
“Sailing to Byzantium”
Wed. 27 F. T. Marinetti, “Futurist Manifesto”
Mina Loy, “Feminist Manifesto” [E]
Student-led class #7
Fri. 29 Student-led classes 8, 9
Mon. April 1 T. S. Eliot, The Waste Land [E]
Wed. 3 Eliot, Waste Land cont’d.
“Tradition and the Individual Talent” [E]
Fri. 5 Student-led classes 10, 11
Mon. 8 Atlanta poetry event report due
William Carlos Williams, I [“Spring and All”]
“To Elsie” (includes audio)
XXII [“The Red Wheelbarrow”]
[“The Rose”]
“This is Just to Say”
Lorine Niedecker, “Paean to Place”
“Poet’s work”
Wed. 10 Anthologies, Canons, Controversies
The Penguin Anthology of Twentieth-Century American Poetry, review by Helen Vendler; response by editor Rita Dove [n.b. access NYRB through DiscoverE or Euclid]
Anthology of Rap (Yale), reviews by Paul Devlin and Adam Kirsch
Student-led class #12
Fri. 12 Student-led classes 13, 14
Mon. 15 Anthology proposal due
Poetry as a documentary form
Gwendolyn Brooks, “A Bronzeville Mother…,” “The Last Quatrain…” [E]
Nikky Finney, “Dancing with Strom”
Recommended: background from Wikipedia on Emmett Till (Brooks), the Civil Rights Act of 1957, and Strom Thurmond (Finney)
Wed. 17 Muriel Rukeyser, The Book of the Dead [E]
Recommended: background on Rukeyser and Hawk’s Nest prepared by Michael Thurston, MAPS
Fri. 19 C.D. Wright with photographs by Deborah Luster, from One Big Self [E] (large-format book on reserve at the Music and Media Library)
M. Nourbese Philip, from Zong! [E]
Mon. 22 Quiz: Poetic forms and movements
Wed. 24 Student-led classes
Fri. 26 Student-led class
Mon. 29 Closing remarks
Mon. May 6 Anthologies due in my mailbox (Callaway N302) or on Blackboard by 9:00 p.m.

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