Introduction to Poetry

From Homer to Hamilton, poetry has been one of the most powerful, diverse, and many-splendored genres in the world, ranging from Anglo-Saxon riddles, folk ballads, wisdom literature, and psalms, to songs of heroes, epic sagas, and rap battles.

Poetry can seem intimidating, but this course will give students a basic introduction to the tools they need to enjoy works of marvelous variety and deep beauty in the Great Tradition. Join us as we explore poetry through the ages, from Homer down to the present day. We'll begin learning how to decipher what can appear to be an incomprehensible jumble of words and sounds, as well as gain the skills for a deeper understanding of fields such as history, theology, theatre, and music.

This course will provide an introduction to the art of poetry through immersion and engagement: reading, writing, memorization, historical and literary surveys, and writing exercises. Each week a set of poetic readings, activities, and vocabulary will be assigned to ground, deepen, and practice what we go over during class sessions. In-class discussions will focus heavily on 1) close readings of individual poems and 2) lectures that give a broader context for the study and enjoyment of poetry. Nota bene: There will be a fair bit of memorization! Students will memorize several poems and write imitation poems in the style of the poets we will be studying.


"Poetry is a mirror which makes beautiful that which is distorted."

~Percy Bysshe Shelley