Dr Rose Lucas A particular and concentrated form of linguistic expression One that comes with its own histories and tradition – the Genre of poetry Tends to foreground imagery, emotional intensity, the senses – above narrative, rational debate When would we use poetic language? When would we turn to poetry as the preferred mode of expression? To express something emotionally intense – love, grief To describe the ‘beautiful’ or the dramatic: the power of word pictures When we are trying to express the ambiguous or something not clearly defined To lift words into a more formal or elevated tone Poetry also has a close relationship to song. Where song has pitch and melody, poetry has rhythm, rhyme, metre. The lyrics are a component of the song, just as the words are a component of the poem Poetry retains a close connection to the idea of the body – of breath and pulse Historically, poetry has been more aligned with story (the transmission of story within oral cultures eg), religious feeling, even political ideas; eg. Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, Milton’s Paradise Lost, Donne’s ‘Holy Sonnets,’ Paterson’s The Man from Snowy River A lot of more modern poetry in particular is very influenced by the personal and the subjective. Eg. Poems about romance, emotional lives, personal convictions Even where poetry can be described as the language of an interior self, it also always bears some connection to place and time Ballad: telling a story, usually with regular form Ode: a ‘grand’ and long poem of heroic tone Epic: long narrative poem, usually of heroes and battles Elegy: poem in honour of the dead Sonnet: 14 line poem, either Petrarchan or Shakespearian Lyric: short verse, usually subjective or reflective Free verse: not using regular rhyme or rhythm Concrete Poetry: poetry that foreground visual shape Performance poetry: where the meaning of a poem is indistinguishable from its presentation; eg Luca Lesson Anonymous Ballads: c.14th -18th centuries The English Renaissance (c. 1550-1700) The Romantic Period (c. 1800-1850) Modernism (c. 1910-1930) Confessional Poetry Concrete Poetry Performance Poetry…. Don’t panic! Take it slowly – it requires a different style of reading to prose Read it aloud at least a couple of times, paying attention to both its grammatical structure (syntax) and its line breaks Work through it closely line by line, building a sense of how the imagery and the ideas are working Don’t ask ‘what does it mean’ first up. Rather, get a feel for it; find the key images on which it turns and try to unpack them; ask what emotional impact the poem has Poetry requires a particular kind of close reading – going slow, reading for suggestion and nuance, allowing the poem and its meanings to marinate in the mind. All essay work using poetry is based on the close reading, and you will always need to quote specifically from the poem to show exactly where your interpretation comes from. You will always need to consider both the formal elements of poem (its layout, its punctuation, its rhythm etc) in conjunction with its ideas. Because poetry is such a particularised and compressed art form, you must always take into account how it is said in order to understand what is being said. Fetch me the sandmartin skimming and veering breast to breast with himself in the clouds in the river. At the worn mouth of the hole flight after flight after flight the swoop of his wings gloved and kissed home. A glottal stillness. An eardrum. Far in, featherbrains tucked in silence, a silence of water lipping the bank. Mould my shoulders inward to you. Occlude me. Be damp clay pouting. Let me listen under your eaves. This subject involves: A brief overview of poetry in English Introduction to a vocabulary of poetry – kinds of poems and various techniques Development of confidence in reading and interpreting a range of poems Development of skills in discussing poetry and its ideas Development of skills in writing about poetry, and having some sense of it in its historical context You will need: Seven Centuries of Poetry in English (ed) John Unit Reader -also available from the bookshop. Leonard (bookshop) This contains additional poems NB: You must have a copy of the poems set for each week available in front of you for each class – anthology, reader, online or printed out. The power point slides for each week’s lecture will be on-line at Ian Syson’s webpage: http://www.staff.vu.edu.au/syson/ This can be useful to look through ahead of the lecture, or to revise subsequently.