English 205: Poetry
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English 205 (000), Spring 2013 HAPW 2629
Instructor: James Howard
E-mail: [email protected]
Class time: MWF 9:35-10:25, Carlos Hall 211
Office Hours: MW, 10:30-12 ; by e-mail appointment otherwise
Location: Jazzman's Cafe, Library
Note: The instructor may change the syllabus. In that event, students will be notified.
Course Description
In this course, students will acquire the analytical and interpretive skills necessary to discuss, appreciate, and enjoy
poetry. To that end, we will read a variety of poems that span the breadth of English literary history. Among other
things, we will learn about form, prosody, close reading, and historical defenses of poetry.
Our semester project will emphasize creative critical contact - learning to approach poetry in ways that augment
traditional silent or hushed reading. Vocal reading, parodic composition, diagrams, and marginalia will be among
the forms of contact encouraged throughout the semester, generating interpretations which will aid the creation of a
critical introduction to a miniature anthology compiled by each student.
Required Texts
The Norton Anthology of Poetry. Ed. Margaret Ferguson, Mary Jo Salter, and Jon Stallworthy. 5 th
ed. New York: W. W. Norton, 2005. Print.
Pinsky, Robert. The Sounds of Poetry: A Brief Guide. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux,
1998. Print.
Other helpful materials are online or on Reserves Direct.
A physical or electronic journal for keeping notes and brainstorming. Personally, I'd use either a spiralbound notebook or a single Word document.
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Course Objectives
At the end of this course, students will be able to:
1. Identify and be able to describe vocal qualities of poetry, including the iambic foot, alliteration, and
2. Identify and be able to describe forms of analogy and comparison, including simile, metaphor,
metonymy, and allegory.
3. Approach poems with basic research methods, including close reading and contextual analysis.
4. Describe their own method for approaching, reading, and enjoying poetry, a set of techniques
conventionally called “brainstorming.”
5. Articulate possible interpretations of poems that they read, answering both what the poem means and
why the poem is interesting or important.
Office Hours
Office hours are moments when students come to the professor with questions, concerns, or a desire for feedback. I
want to see you – all of you – during the course of the semester. To give some examples, I am happy to discuss
paper ideas, anthology concepts, a line of poetry, writing issues, or methods of interpretation. You are welcome
without warning, though I can best prepare if you send me an e-mail beforehand with what you want to talk about.
My office hours will be in or just outside Jazzman’s, on the 1st floor of the main library. I also share an office with
graduate students in Callaway, if you’d rather make an appointment for that place.
Ungraded Suggestions
You’re expected to complete the poems and assignments on the syllabus. There are three non-graded tasks that will
help you in this course if you pursue them.
The first – reading poems multiple times with different techniques – will help you understand the poems better,
making for better discussions and papers. It will also practice the skills delineated in the course objectives.
The second – maintaining a reading journal – will help centralize your thoughts in one place while giving you the
space necessary to experiment with reading. If you have trouble speaking off the top of your head, think of this
journal as an in-class cheat sheet to use during discussion. This will also help in preparing papers and your
anthology, since you’ll have a place filled with your earlier impressions and thoughts.
The third – reading a poem a day and making note of it – will help you enjoy more poetry on your own. Reading
more poetry from any source makes you a better reader of poetry. What we read in the course is only a small sliver
of what is out there. More practically, reading a poem a day gives you more options for your anthology project,
since you’ll have found more poems potentially worthy of inclusion. I suggest flipping to random pages of poetry
books or using an online “poem a day” feature.
English 205: Poetry
Participation: 10%
Reading Blogs: 10%
Paper 1: 20%
Paper 2: 20%
Anthology Project: 40%
Annotated Bibiliography: 10%
Final Draft of the Anthology: 30%
Due Dates for Assignments on the Syllabus:
 1/23 – Reading Blog 1 Due
 1/30 – Reading Blog 2 Due
 2/1 – Paper 1 Rough Draft Due
 2/8 – Reading Blog 3 Due
 2/15 – Paper 1 Final Draft Due
 2/22 – Reading Blog 4 Due
 3/6 – Paper 2 Draft Due
 3/8 – Anthology Concept Due
 3/22 – List of Anthology Poems Due
 3/29 – Reading Blog 5
 4/3 – Annotated Bibliography Due
 4.8 – Reading Blog 6
 4/12 – Outline for Critical Introduction Due
 4/19 – Rough Format of Poems Due
 4/22 – Reading Blog 7
 5/2 – Final Anthology Due
Reading Blogs are due by 12:01 AM on the day it's due.
Papers and other materials are due at the start of class.
The final anthology is due during the final exam time for this course.
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English 205: Poetry
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General Description of Assignments
Participation is highly encouraged. Speaking up in class with earnestly thought-out ideas, contributing
constructively to someone else's claims, or asking questions on points of confusion all qualify as
We will contribute quick and thoughtful posts to a blog on Blackboard roughly semi-weekly. Some blogs
will be open to discussing any poems we have recently read. On these open assignments, I don't expect a
detailed reading like a paper would expect. Instead, I'm hoping for brief speculative readings where you try
to figure out what a particular part of a poem is doing. This isn't a finished product – perplexity is welcome.
Others will be prompted, as we present a method or approach we will pursue informally as a part of a
writing journal. (To give an example, I plan to have you produce a brief “mock turtle,” or a poem written in
the style of a poem we read.) Try to write at least a good paragraph (250 words), and feel free to write
longer. Then read others' thoughts before class, and comment constructively if you feel like it.
I will give a brief evaluation of your observations, while grading based on completion.
These are traditional papers that will provide a clear thesis and evidence supporting the thesis. The
particular assignments will be announced three weeks before the final draft is due. For paper 1, I require
both a rough and a final draft, partly to set the expectation for papers with a low-stakes first try, and partly
to encourage revision as a regular part of your writing process. For paper 2, I am happy to give feedback
during office hours, but I leave the revision process to you. Each paper will follow the MLA rules for
formatting and citation. Consult Hacker, A Pocket Style Guide or the Purdue OWL MLA Guide at
<http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/01/> for further information.
The culmination of your work in this course will be a miniature anthology, a collection of poems built
around a central idea or common theme of your choosing. The poems will be selected and edited according
to general guidelines. The critical introduction will incorporate the methods of reading and bibliography
that also will recur throughout the course. Therefore, this assignment takes the place of a final exam,
serving as a test of your ability which doubles as a valuable personal production.
Several official assignments provide markers in the process of drafting this assignment. Insights from
earlier papers may be used alongside new research for the poems in the anthology. Before spring break, you
will choose a theme or idea alongside a couple of poems of your choosing. I will suggest general ideas
earlier in the course, and welcome meeting with you to discuss your thoughts on the subject. Then you will
compile a list of 8 or more poems, some from course reading, and some from your personal reading, which
follow this idea. When you pick these poems, you should start writing on them and reading them frequently
in your journal, a form of research that will help immensely as you proceed with secondary research.
The first official assignment will be an annotated bibliography compiling your secondary research at that
point. Resources should provide either background on the poem or poets involved or provide interpretations
of the poem you will discuss as a part of your own critical introduction. The annotations will briefly
summarize the sources and their importance to your project – how do you imagine they'll be used? What
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information do they contribute? I'll evaluate your assessment of the sources carefully, suggest additional
resources where necessary, and grade these for completion.
Subsequently, you will produce an outline of your critical introduction. This will undoubtedly be rough,
but should present your structure. The best parts of your primary and secondary research should appear
here, contributing to the primary purposes of our introduction: 1. why are these poems worth reading? Why
are they here? Why should I read them? 2. what are these poems about? Where did they come from? What
information will help me understand them better?
The draft of your poems' presentation will then demonstrate what editorial approach you have chosen for
the poems. This will undoubtedly be rough; any textual critic will likely call the style we employ here
“eclectic.” What I want you to think about here is both clarity and fidelity to the text as it has been shown
in earlier editions. Will the reader find it easy to approach these texts? To what degree have forms in the
text (indentation, capitalization, punctuation) been preserved? Are there notes? I welcome innovative
methods of presentation – hypertext editions, visual recordings accompanying the text, and similar
moments are as welcome as the traditional chapbook.
Finally, during the time of your final exam, you shall put all of these elements together into an anthology.
Length and other constraints will depend on the poems you choose, but most likely the critical introduction
will devote a few paragraphs to the dominant themes and then at least one paragraph to each poem, adding
up to at least seven double-spaced pages. I will evaluate and grade according to a rubric which rewards
compelling and insightful introductions, friendly presentations of the poem, and your original thoughts and
enthusiasm about the poems on display.
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Very Important Policies
Late Assignments
When an assignment is late, students will receive a grade increment off for each calendar day it is late. For
example, an A paper that is turned in on Sunday, when it was due Friday, will receive a B+.
Students should make every effort to attend all class meetings. At the beginning of the semester, I will ask
if you have any foreseeable absences. Provided that they are within reason, and have a good reason behind
them (an interview for a summer internship), this absence will be permitted. If you can, request these
absences before the end of the first week of class.
Sometimes, events happen that are beyond our control. Because of that, students are allowed three absences
each semester for any reason. In addition, if students are sick, they should stay home and let the instructor
know. That absence will be excused. Keep up with the reading and assignments until you feel better.
Otherwise, more than three absences will result in a drop of one grade increment. For example, a student
who misses five classes and has an original grade of an A- will be reduced to a B.
Late Students
Being late disrupts attention. If students are late more than twice, their participation grade will start to
decline. It is better to be a little early. If this is an issue because you are leaving a previous class that is far
away, talk to me.
Honor Code
By enrolling in this course, or any course at Emory University, students agree to abide by all the terms set
out in the Emory Honor Code. Any violations of the Code will result in the referral of the student to the
In particular, it is vitally important that any work students produce in this course is their own, and the work
of others is clearly demonstrated through citation. This will be discussed in class, but ask if any questions
Technical Shenanigans
Students should not use computers to check out websites not currently under discussion.
Also, no sign of cell phones will be tolerated in class.
Finally, no food or open-top drinks will be allowed in the classroom. You are responsible for spills.
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Further Assistance
Writing Center
The Writing Center is an excellent resource for writers of all skill levels. It offers assistance with all
aspects of writing, including brainstorming, organization, thesis formation, style, wording, and revision. I
strongly encourage each of you to schedule a meeting at the Writing Center at least once this semester. It is
a good idea to secure appointments as far in advance as possible, especially towards the end of the semester
when the Writing Center is busiest. The Writing Center is located in Callaway North 212. Make an
appointment in person, or call the Writing Center at (404) 727-6451. The Writing Center’s website is
Disability Accommodations
It is the policy of Emory University to make reasonable accommodations for qualified students with
disabilities. These accommodation requests are best made early in the semester and do not become active
until the student presents to the instructor the official support letter from the ODS. Accommodations are not
To contact the Office of Disability Services (ODS):
Telephone: 404-727-9877
Fax: 404-727-1126
Web address: <http://www.ods.emory.edu/>
Counseling Center
The Emory Student Counseling Center provides free, confidential counseling for enrolled students. If you
need help with any stress, problem, or crisis, please contact them at (404) 727-7450. The website is at
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Note that the official assignments are in boldface in the second column, while suggestions for methods of reading
are in italics in the third column. Some we will discuss in class; thus, you should keep your journal with you.
Readings are on the right. If the reading is not where described, let me know and do your best to find it.
Class Title
To Accomplish Before
Week 1:
Wednesday, January 16th
I'm Nobody! Who are
you? Are you – Nobody
– too?
Survive the bitter Georgia
Friday, January 18th
Loving Variety
e e cummings, “since
feeling is first” (1394)
Elizabeth Barrett
Browning, “How do I love
thee? Let me count the
ways” (947)
Kenneth Koch, “You Were
Wearing” (1692)
Kit Wright, “A Love Song
of Tooting” (1946)
Wendy Cope, “Valentine”
Try reading the poem a
few times.
Try writing about what
happens in the poem,
what catches your
Look up ambiguous,
resonant, or unknown
words and phrases.
Week 2: The
Spoken Word
Monday, January 21st
Martin Luther King Jr.
Celebrate the dream
Wednesday, January 23rd
Reading Blog 1
Spoken Patterns
Thomas Campion, “Now
Winter Nights Enlarge,”
Dana Gioia, “Prayer”
Robert Pinsky, The Sounds
of Poetry, 3-24.
Try reading the poem
Friday, January 25th
Just Iambling Along
Try walking with the
poem as you recite it
aloud. Play with the
spoken rhythm.
Week 3: The
Written Word
Lewis Carroll,
“Jabberwocky,” (1135)
Elizabeth Jennings, “My
Grandmother” (1735)
William Wordsworth, “The
Tables Turned” (764)
Jean Toomer, “Reapers,”
Adele, “Rolling in the
Monday, January 28th
Syntax and Line
Pinsky, The Sounds of
Poetry, 25-50.
Wednesday, January 30th
Reading Blog 2
George Herbert,
“Discipline” (382)
John Donne, “A
Valediction Forbidding
Try paying close
attention to the line
English 205: Poetry
Week 4:
Sounding Alike
or Not
breaks and the sentence
breaks. Diagram a
sentence, or produce an
alternate line-break
Mourning” (306)
Sir John Suckling, “Song”
Eric Ormsby, “Origins”
Marianne Moore, “The
Fish” (1328)
Friday, February 1st
Paper 1 Rough Draft
Technical Terms and
Vocal Realities
Pinsky, The Sounds of
Poetry, 51-78.
Monday, February 4th
Variations of Sound
Wednesday, February 6th
Like and Unlike Sounds
Friday, February 8th
A Segue into Alliteration “The Wife's Lament” (11)
(find alliterative version)
Try listening to some rap William Langland, “Piers
and compare the
Plowman,” lines 1-19 (71)
Richard Wilbur, “Junk”
Reading Blog 3
Week 5: Blank
and Free Verse
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Monday, February 11th
George Gordon, Lord
Byron, “The Destruction of
Try describing how the
Sennacherib,” (834)
poem sounds, in metrical Alfred, Lord Tennyson,
or impressionistic terms. “The Charge of the Light
Try to find points where Brigade” (1005)
the sonic texture varies, Theodore Roethke, “My
and figure out what that Papa's Waltz” (1494)
Adrienne Rich, “A
Valediction Forbidding
Mourning” (1796).
Blank Verse and Free
Wednesday, February 13th Blanking Out
Try drawing a chart or
image of what's being
presented. Keep the
details faithful to what's
presented, but play with
how it is presented.
Pinksy, The Sounds of
Poetry, 79-96.
Pinsky, The Sounds of
Poetry, 97-116.
John Milton, “Paradise
Lost,” The Invocation
Samuel Taylor Coleridge,
“Frost at Midnight” (810)
Wallace Stevens, “Thirteen
Ways of Looking at a
Blackbird” (1260)
Paper 1 Final Draft Due Try to focus on the
perspectives both of
Norman Nicholson, “To the
these poems evoke. What River Duddon” (1561)
kind of attention does it
evoke from you?
Week 6: Turn to
the Visual
Friday, February 15th
Free Versing It
Monday, February 18th
Shaped and Concrete
Try comparing the thing
George Herbert, “The
Altar” (367)
“Easter Wings” (368)
Derek Mahon, “The
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to the poem. Draw it out. Window” (1923)
What does the shape of
the words add?
Wednesday, February 20th Typography
Can you read the poetry
aloud? How do you
interpret the order of
letters, their placement
on the page, and the use
of punctuation?
Week 7: Close
Friday, February 22nd
Reading Blog 4
Research Methods
Monday, February 25th
Read 2053-2065 of the
anthology, on poetic
syntax. Check out the
Research Guide for
mory.edu/english). Click
through all the tabs.
William Shakespeare,
“Sonnet 20” (260), “Sonnet
Using what we've
73” (263),
learned about syntax,
William Blake, “To the
sound, rhyme, metaphor, Evening Star” (733), Carol
and related features, try Ann Duffy, “Anne
to tease apart the poem Hathaway” (2008)
Wednesday, February 27th Objects
Robert Browning, “My
Last Duchess” (1012).
Adrienne Rich, “Diving
Into the Wreck” (1797)
Friday, March 1st
Resistant Reading
Archibald MacLeish, “Ars
Poetica” (1381).
Billy Collins, “Introduction
to Poetry,”
Robert Pinsky, “ABC”
Find and check out another
anthology in the library.
Compare it with our own.
Bring the anthology to
Wednesday, March 6th
Paper 2 Draft Due
Pick a poem we've read and
find out its source. Write a
page describing how the
poem appears in its earlier
context, and how it differs
from the present one.
Friday, March 8th
Anthology Concept Due
Spring Break
Spring Break
Research or your heart's
Week 8:
Monday, March 4th
Spring Break
e e cummings, “may I feel
said he” (1395).
Emily Dickinson, “764”
Consult the manuscripts of
Emily Dickinson's poetry
English 205: Poetry
Week 9:
Monday, March 18th
Narrative Poetry
Wednesday, March 20th
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Ancient Mariners
Samuel Taylor Coleridge,
“The Rime of the Ancient
Mariner” (812)
More Ancient Mariners
“Rime” cont.
Jerome McGann, “The
Meaning of the Ancient
Friday, March 22nd
List of Anthology Poems
Week 10:
Monday, March 25th
Allegory, or
What Happens
While the Literal
Wednesday, March 27th
Friday, March 29th
Reading Blog 5
Week 11:
Monday, April 1st
Relevant Poesies
From Pearl (75).
Rosemond Tuve, from
Allegorical Imagery
(approx pp. 1-20).
Knights and Error
Edmund Spenser, The
Faerie Queene, Book I,
Canto i (165)
Knights Amid Wastes
T. S. Eliot, The Waste Land
Early Modern Defense
Excerpt from Philip
Sidney, The Defense of
Henry Howard, “Wyatt
Resteth Here” (138)
John Milton, “On
Shakespeare” (400)
Philip Sidney, “What
Length of Verse?” (210-11)
Week 11:
Snapshots of
Wednesday, April 3rd
Relevances to
Annotated Bibliography Contemporaneity
Simon Armitage, from
“Killing Time” (2021)
Thomas Gray, “Elegy
Written in a Country
Churchyard” (669).
Friday, April 5th
Theoretical, Personal,
Alexander Pope, from “An
Essay on Man” (623)
Hannah More, from “The
Slave Trade” (709)
W. H. Auden, “Spain
1937” (1466)
Monday, April 8th
Reading Blog 6
Plainspoken to Ornate
Preface to 1798 Lyrical
Robert Burns, “The Banks
o' Doon.” (759).
William Wordsworth,
“Lines” (765)
John Wilmot, Earl of
Rochester, “The Imperfect
Enjoyment” (551)
Aphra Behn, “The
Disappointment” (541).
English 205: Poetry
Week 12:
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Wednesday, April 10th
Transcendence and
William Blake, “The
Tyger” (743)
William Cullen Bryant,
“Thanatopsis” (903)
Christina Rossetti, “Passing
Away” (1133-4)
Algernon Swinburne, “A
Forsaken Garden” (1151)
Friday, April 12th
Outline for Critical
Introduction Due
Cultural Critique
A. E. Housman, “To an
Athlete Dying Young”
W.S. Gilbert, “I Am the
Very Model of a Modern
Major-General” (1144)
Thomas Hardy, “The
Ruined Maid” (1156)
D.H. Lawrence, “SelfProtection” (1288).
Monday, April 15th
Not Quite
John Skelton, “Phillip
Sparow” (94)
Carl Sandburg, “Grass”
Stephen Crane, from “The
Black Riders and Other
Lines” (1220)
H.D., “Sea Rose” and “Sea
Violet” (1311-12)
Wednesday, April 17th
Etherized on a Table
Marianne Moore, “To a
Chameleon,” (1328)
T. S. Eliot, “The Love
Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”
Friday, April 19th
Modern Responses to the e e cummings, “All in
green went my love riding”
Rough Format of Poems Season
Edna St. Vincent Millay,
“Spring” (1383)
Langston Hughes,
“Harlem” (1433-4)
Week 13: Post
Monday, April 22nd
Reading Blog 7
Allen Ginsberg, “Howl”
Wednesday, April 24th
Emory Poets
Selections of poetry by
Jericho Brown, Kevin
Young, and Natasha
Friday, April 26th
Take in the format and the
poems of the linked issue
of The New Criterion. Try
to find one other periodical
with poetry in it, and be
ready to discuss what you
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Week 14: After
Monday, April 29th
Thursday, May 2nd, 8:3011 AM
Final Anthology Due