Principles of Literary Study: Poetry                                                                              
T/TH, 2:50pm – 4:10pm                                                                                                     
Michael Leong
Office Hours: Tuesday 1:45-2:45 (MU 036D)            
Course blog:

This course is specifically designed to provide the English major with the fundamental concepts and techniques of literary interpretation, with a specific focus on poetry: the nature of poetic language and the methods of analyzing figurative discourse, genre, and structure; versification and the analysis of meter; the contexts of poetry (personal, cultural, historical); and the poet’s work within literary tradition.  Readings will include a wide range of poets writing in English, including women and minorities, with detailed attention devoted to two particular poets (from diverse historical and cultural backgrounds) chosen by the instructor.

Required Texts:
The Norton Anthology of Poetry (Shorter Fifth Edition), ed. Ferguson, Salter, and Stallworthy. 
Rhyme’s Reason (Third Edition), Hollander      

Recommended Texts:
A Glossary of Literary Terms (Seventh Edition), Abrams
The Oxford English Dictionary (Online via Rutgers University Library)

Course Policies:

*Attendance and active participation is expected and constitutes a significant portion of your grade; you will nee
d to be both on time and prepared.  You should have the assigned readings with you in class and you should have read all of the poetry at least twice before class begins; careful reading will involve annotating the text and looking up words that are unfamiliar to you.  Coming to class more than twenty minutes late will constitute an absence, and more than two absences will adversely affect your grade.  Five or more absences will likely result in failure.

*Electronic devices should be turned off during class; text messaging/e-mailing is absolutely prohibited.

*Plagiarism will not be tolerated and academic dishonesty will be sanctioned immediately.  For more information on the school’s policy on academic integrity, consult the following website:


Attendance/Participation: 20%
Quizzes: 20%
Blog entries and poetic compositions: 20%
Two 4-5 page papers: 20%
Final Exam: 20%

Quizzes: Two quizzes are scheduled though you should be ready for unannounced quizzes as well. 

Blog entries/poetic compositions:  You will be required to set up a blog (which will be linked to the main course blog) that will act as a journal.  You will write at least one blog entry per week that presents a close reading and thoughtful analysis of an assigned poem or poems; commenting on the posts of your classmates is encouraged.  Entries will not be graded individually like the papers, but, nevertheless, should be written in clear and intelligent prose.  You are encouraged to write these entries before class as a way of preparation; if you wish to write about a poem after we have discussed it, make sure to explore aspects and features of the poem that we did not talk about.  You will also be asked to compose some poetic exercises—including writing a sonnet—to strengthen your understanding of poetic language and form.

Papers: You will write two academic papers on the assigned texts.  Late papers will be lowered half a grade for every day they are late.  Start thinking about them early: good writing always requires multiple stages of drafting and revision.


TH, 9/2: Introduction
What is poetry? The distinction between poetry and verse. Some brief examples (handouts).

TUE, 9/7: The Lyric Self
William Shakespeare, Sonnet 29 (171-2)
John Donne, Holy Sonnet 5 (206-7)
John Clare, “I Am” (566)
Emily Dickinson, 409 “The Soul selects her own Society” (725); 740 “On a Columnar Self” (728)
Elizabeth Bishop, “In the Waiting Room” (964-966)

TH, 9/9: Poetic Diction: Sound & Sense
Robert Herrick, “Upon Julia’s Breasts”; “Upon Julia’s Clothes” (228-9)
Emily Dickinson, 124, first version and second version (720-1)
Lewis Carroll, “Jabberwocky” (736)
Gerard Manly Hopkins “God’s Grandeur” (755); “Pied Beauty” (756)
Wallace Stevens’ “Disillusionment of Ten O’Clock” and W.D. Snodgrass’ “Complaint at Nightfall” —  a “decomposition” of the Stevens poem (handout)

Decompositions: Choose a poem from the anthology (preferably one that we have already studied or will discuss on Tuesday) and “decompose” it in the manner of Snodgrass.  Post the original poem along with your decomposition on your blog by 9/12 with a brief statement about how the exercise helped you to understand the diction of the poem.

TUE, 9/14: Figurative Language: Metaphor, Simile, & Conceit
William Shakespeare, Sonnet 18 (171); Sonnet 73 (173-4); Sonnet 130 (177)
John Donne, “A Valediction Forbidding Mourning” (198)
Robert Herrick, “The Vine” (225-6)
Emily Dickinson, 1788 “Fame is a bee” (732)
Langston Hughes, “Harlem” (915)
Margaret Atwood, “[You Fit into Me]” (blog)
W.S. Merwin, “When You Go Away” (blog)

[9/15: 8pm. Writers at Rutgers Reading Series: Gulf Coast Poets Benefit Reading w/ Darrell Bourque, Tonya Foster, Yusef Komunyakaa, and Mona Lisa Saloy. Rutgers Student Center, Multipurpose Room – New Brunswick]
See Komunyakaa’s “Facing It” (1209).  Extra credit will be awarded to those who post a review of the reading on their blogs.

TH, 9/16: Figurative Language: Emblem & Symbol
George Herbert, “Easter Wings” (236-7)
William Blake, “The Sick Rose” (446) – also see image of illuminated poem on blog
Edgar Allan Poe, “The Raven” (615-18)
William Butler Years, “The Wild Swans at Coole” (771)
Wallace Stevens, “The Emperor of Ice-Cream” (816)

TUE, 9/21: Figurative Language: Image & Description
Jonathan Swift, “A Description of a City Shower” (333-4)
William Wordsworth, “Composed upon Westminster Bridge” (477)
William Carlos Williams, “The Red Wheelbarrow” (829)
Ezra Pound, “In a Station of the Metro” (846)
Marianne Moore, “The Fish” (855-6)
Amy Clampitt, “Beach Glass” (1010-1)

TH, 9/23: Voice / Tone / Ventriloquism
John Donne, “The Sun Rising” (193-4)
Andrew Marvell, “To His Coy Mistress” (293)
Kenneth Koch, “To my Twenties” (1053)
T.S. Eliot, “Journey of the Magi” (blog)
John Berryman, “Dream Song 28: Snow Line” (blog)
Louise Glück, “Witchgrass” (blog)

TUE, 9/28: “The Police in Different Voices”: Voice / Tone / Ventriloquism II
T.S. Eliot, “The Waste Land” (866-78)
Wendy Cope, “Waste Land Limericks” (blog)

TH, 9/30: Character / Persona
Alfred, Lord Tennyson, “Ulysses” (629)
Robert Browning, “Porphyria’s Lover” (642)
T.S. Eliot, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” (862)
Gwendolyn Brooks, “We Real Cool” (999)
John Yau, “I Was a Poet in the House of Frankenstein” (blog)

TUE, 10/5: Address / Audience
Ben Johnson, “To the Reader” (208)
Ann Bradstreet, “The Author to Her Book” (285-6)
John Keats, “This Living Hand” (588)
Ezra Pound, “The River Merchant’s Wife: a Letter” (846)
Langston Hughes, “Theme for English B” (915-6)
Sylvia Plath, “Daddy” (1145); “Lady Lazarus” (1148-1150)

TH, 10/7: Address / Audience II
Walt Whitman, “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” (684-9)
John Ashbery, “Paradoxes and Oxymorons” (1083-4)

TUE, 10/12: Rhythm & Meter
“Rhythm”; “Meter” (1252-1260)
Rhyme’s Reason (5-11)
Samuel Taylor Coleridge, “Kubla Khan” (486-7)
Herman Melville, “Shiloh” (674)
Thomas Hardy, “The Darkling Thrush” (746)

TH, 10/14: Rhythm & Rhyme
Rhyme’s Reason (13-18)
Ben Johnson, “A Fit of Rhyme against Rhyme” (215-6)
Percy Bysshe Shelley, “Ode to the West Wind” (543-5)
Emily Dickinson, 145 (721); 314 (254); 339 (723); 340 (723-4)

TUE, 10/19: Blank Verse
“Forms” (1263-1275)
Rhyme’s Reason (12-13)
John Milton, selections from Paradise Lost (277-280)
Ralph Waldo Emerson, “The Snow-Storm” (589)
Robert Frost, “Directive” (808-809)

Blank Verse: Write a poem in blank verse and post it on your blog by 10/17.

TH, 10/21: Blank Verse II
William Wordsworth, “Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey” (458-62)
TUE, 10/26: The Ballad
Anonymous, “Bonny Barbara Allan” (93-4)
Bob Dylan, “Boots of Spanish Leather” (1153)
Langston Hughes, “A Ballad of Negro History” (blog)
Evie Shockley, “ballad of bertie county”

THU, 10/28: The Ballad II
Samuel Taylor Coleridge, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” (489-505)

TUE, 11/2: The Sonnet
Rhyme’s Reason (19-20); also review 1266-8 in the Norton
Edmund Spenser, from Amoretti, Sonnet 75 (142)
John Donne, Holy Sonnet 10 (207)
John Milton, “When I Consider How My Light Is Spent” (274)
William Wordsworth, “Nuns Fret Not at Their Convent’s Narrow Room” (478); “Scorn Not the Sonnet” (486)
Dante Gabriel Rossetti, from The House of Life, “A Sonnet” (715)
Donald Justice, “Sonnet” (blog)

Sonnet: Compose a sonnet and post it to your blog by 10/31.

[11/4: Surrealism in the 21st Century Symposium: Panel Discussion, 1pm, 302 Murray Hall.  Poetry Reading w/ Will Alexander & Andrew Joron, 7:30pm, Civic Square Building, rm 110/117] Extra credit will be awarded to those who post a review of the reading on their blogs.

THU, 11/4: The Sonnet II
Percy Bysshe Shelley, “Ozymandias” (541)
John Keats, “On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer” (567)
William Butler Yeats, “Leda and the Swan” (776)
Robert Frost, “Design” (805); “The Silken Tent” (806)
Robert Hayden, “Those Winter Sundays” (968)
Stephanie Strickland, from “Wave Son.nets” (blog)

TUE, 11/9: The Ode
Rhyme’s Reason (33-4)
William Collins, “Ode on the Poetical Character” (414-5); “Ode to Evening” (416-7)
William Wordsworth, “Ode: Intimations of Immortality” (478-483)
John Keats, “Ode to a Nightingale” (582); “To Autumn” (585)
Hart Crane, from The Bridge “Proem: To Brooklyn Bridge” (907-8)

[11/10: Writers at Rutgers Reading Series: Billy Collins]
See Collins’ “Litany” (1191-2) and “Sonnet” (blog). Extra credit will be awarded to those who post a review of the reading on their blogs.

THU, 11/11: The Ode II  
Gerard Manly Hopkins, “The Wreck of the Deutschland” (blog)
Robert Lowell, “The Quaker Graveyard in Nantucket” (blog)

TUE, 11/16: The Greater Romantic Lyric
Samuel Taylor Coleridge, “Frost at Midnight” (488)
A.R. Ammons, “Corsons Inlet” (1054-1057)
Lucy Larcom, “Wild Roses of Cape Ann” (blog)
John Ashbery, “The Instruction Manual” (blog)

THU, 11/18: Elegy
John Milton, “Lycidas” (269-273)
Thomas Gray, “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard” (410-413)

TUE, 11/23: Elegy II
Thomas Hardy, “The Convergence of the Twain” (748-9)
William Butler Yeats, “Easter 1916” (772)
W.H. Auden, “In Memory of W.B. Yeats” (939-941)
Robert Lowell, “For the Union Dead” (1007)
Frank O’Hara, “The Day Lady Died” (1075-6)


TUE, 11/30: Sestina and Villanelle
Rhyme’s Reason, (40-1)
John Ashbery, “The Painter” (1080)
Elizabeth Bishop, “Sestina” (963-4); “One Art” (966)
Dylan Thomas, “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night” (991)
W.H. Auden, from The Sea and the Mirror: A Commentary on Shakespeare’s The Tempest, “Miranda” (blog)

Sestina/Villanelle: Write a sestina or villanelle and post it on your blog by 11/28.

TH, 12/2: Free Verse
Rhyme’s Reason (26-31)
Christopher Smart, from Jubilate Agno (417-419)
Walt Whitman, from “Song of Myself” (679-84)
Matthew Arnold, “Dover Beach” (711-2)
Stephen Crane, from Black Riders (792-3)

TU, 12/7: Free Verse II
Michael Palmer, “I Do Not” (1205-6); “Sun” (blog)
May Swenson, “Bleeding” (blog)
Nathaniel Mackey, from Splay Anthem (blog)

TH, 12/9: Prose Poetry & Poetry Today


FINAL EXAM: 12/23, 12:00 PM – 3:00 PM


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