Introduction to Poetry

Grades 10-12+1High school students may be awarded 1 Literature credit upon completion of this course.

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour
~William Blake (from “Auguries of Innocence”)

The word poetry comes from the Greek verb ποιεῖν—to make. A poem, ποίημα, is literally something made. Of all the things that humans make, poetry is surely among the most marvelous. Though made using only words and the voice, poetry has a multi-media quality, combining music (in its rhythm and the sound of its words), painting (in its vivid imagery), and philosophy (in its contemplative observation of nature and human experience). Through its concentrated, arresting language, poetry calls us to stop and reflect, to see what is before us, or within us, in a new or deeper way, maybe even to see something familiar for the first time.

In Introduction to Poetry, we will experience this special art form as we listen to great recitations, read poems out loud, memorize and recite. We will explore the details of each poem as we look at imagery, figurative language, symbols, tone, voice, rhythm, meter, rhyme, and form. We will see how the poet conveys meaning through all the elements and tools of poetry.

Weekly assignments will include both aural and written work. Students will listen to recordings, read out loud, and memorize poems (working towards class recitations). They will scan (marking accents to see the poem’s rhythm and possible meter) and annotate poems (writing definitions of unfamiliar words, observing various aspects of the poem, writing questions and reflections). Students will also write a formal essay each semester, progressing through several drafts to a final paper.

In this Honors course we will study classics from the English poetry tradition: British poets in the Fall and American in Spring.

High school students may be awarded 1 Literature credit upon completion of this course.


Prerequisites: Two high school level lit/comp courses.

Fall Semester will include…

Anonymous Medieval and Renaissance Ballads
Shakepeare’s Sonnets
Metaphysical Poets (John Donne, George Herbert, Andrew Marvell)
John Milton
Romantic Poets (William Blake, William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, John Keats) 
Alfred Lord Tennyson
Gerard Manley Hopkins
T.S. Eliot 

Spring Semester will include…

T.S. Eliot
Walt Whitman
Emily Dickinson
Robert Frost
Wallace Stevens
William Carlos Williams
Langston Hughes
W.H. Auden

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

~Percy Bysshe Shelley