Poetry and Poetics

Poetry. The student prepares extensively the oeuvre of each of 8 poets, including the major verse genres practiced by each, along with relevant selections from the prose. The poets should be chosen in accordance with the following historical distribution: 2 poets before 1600, 2 between 1600 and 1800, 2 between 1800 and 1900, 2 since 1900.

The student compiles a list of 30 poems, by poets other than the chosen 8, spanning the major genres (from epigram and sonnet through epistle, elegy, and ode, to ballad, drama and epic), and attending as above to historical distribution.

Poetics. No approach will be useful that lacks a clearly defined intellectual perspective. The following field-lists of primary and secondary texts suggest, in the first instance, the historical, theoretical, and methodological horizons that are to be borne in mind as students construct an exam-list of readings representing a particular approach. In practical terms, students choosing this field will consult with their advisors about how their specific list can best draw in detail upon, and reflect in its general proportions, the traditional lists given here.

The student prepares 20 of the following primary texts - 15 items pre-1945, 5 items post-1945 - and 6 works from the list of secondary texts, one of which (Princeton Encyclopedia entries) is starred as mandatory.

PRIMARY TEXTS TO 1945 [pick 15]

Aristotle, The Poetics Parts I-IX

Plato, from Ion; from Phaedrus; Republic Book X

Pseudo-Longinus, On the Sublime Sections I - XVI

Horace, Ars Poetica

Augustine, De Doctrina Christiana

Bede, De Schematibus et Tropis

Matthew of Vendôme, Ars Versificatoria

Geoffrey of Vinsauf, Poetria Nova

Dante, "Letter to Can Grande,"De Vulgari Eloquentia

General prologue to Wycliffite Bible (from "The Idea of the Vernacular")

Torquato Tasso, Discourses on the Heroic Poem

Sir Philip Sidney, Apologie for Poetry

Edmund Spenser, Letter to Gabriel Harvey

John Milton, Preface to Paradise Lost

John Dryden, An Essay of Dramatic Poesy

Alexander Pope, Essay on Criticism

Joseph Addison, Spectator 409-410, 412

Robert Lowth, Lectures on the Sacred Poetry of the Hebrews 1, 4-5, 14-15

Edmund Burke, A Philosophical Enquiry into. . . the Sublime and the Beautiful

Adam Smith, "Considerations Concerning the First Formation of Languages" (1767); _ Joshua Steele, Prosodia Rationalis

Samuel Johnson, from Preface to Shakespeare; "Thomas Gray"; "John Milton" (from Lives of the Poets)

Thomas Warton, History of English Poetry

Thomas Jefferson, "Thoughts on English Prosody"

William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell Plates 6-15.

Immanuel Kant, "What is Enlightenment?"; Critique of Judgment Books I and II

Friedrich Schiller, "On Naïve and Sentimental Poetry"; On the Aesthetic Education of Man Letters 6, 9, 16, 20, 22

A. W. Schlegel, "Ancient and Modern, Classical and Romantic" (from Lectures on Dramatic Art and Literature)

William Wordsworth, Preface to Lyrical Ballads (1800)

S. T. Coleridge, Biographia Literaria chapters 13, 14, 17, 22.

Percy Bysshe Shelley, "A Defence of Poetry"

John Keats, Letters (To J J. H. Reynolds, 17-18 April 1817; to Benjamin Bailey, 22 Nov. 1817; to George and Thomas Keats, 28 Dec. 1817; to J. H. Reynolds, 3 May 1818; "Epistle to John Hamilton Reynolds"

Arthur Henry Hallam, "On Some of the Characteristics of Modern Poetry and on the Poetry of Tennyson"

Thomas Carlyle, "The Hero as Poet"

Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Circles"; "The Poet"

Edgar Allan Poe, "The Philosophy of Composition"; "The Poetic Principle"

Matthew Arnold, Preface to Poems (1853)

Robert Browning, "Essay on Shelley"

John Ruskin, "Of the Pathetic Fallacy," from Modern Painters

Walt Whitman, Preface to Leaves of Grass (1855)

Emily Dickinson, letters to T. W. Higginson of April 25, 1862, June 7, 1862, and July 1862

Charles Baudelaire, "Further Notes on Edgar Poe"; The Painter of Modern Life

Stéphane Mallarmé, "The Book. A Spiritual Instrument"; "Crisis in Poetry"; "Music and Literature"

Augusta Webster, "Poets and Personal Pronouns"

Arthur Rimbaud, Letters (to Georges Izambard, 13 May 1871; to Paul Demeny, 15 May 1871)

Walter Pater, "The School of Giorgione," "Conclusion" to The Renaissance

Gerard Manley Hopkins, "Author's Note"; letters on "sprung rhythm" (to Robert Bridges, August 21, 1877, and to Richard Watson Dixon, October 5, 1878); on "oddness" (to Bridges, February 15, 1879); and on "language heightened" (August 14, 1879)

Sidney Lanier, The Science of English Verse

Oscar Wilde, "The Critic as Artist"

W. B. Yeats, "The Symbolism of Poetry"

Osip Mandelstam, "The Word and Culture"; "On the Nature of the Word"

Viktor Shklovsky, "Art as Technique"

Roman Jakobson, "Linguistics and Poetics"

T. E. Hulme, "Romanticism and Classicism"

Amy Lowell, ed., Preface to Some Imagist Poets

Ezra Pound, "I Gather the Limbs of Osiris"; "A Retrospect"; from How to Read

T. S. Eliot, "Hamlet and his Problems"; "Tradition and the Individual Talent"; "The Metaphysical Poets"

Gertrude Stein, "Poetry and Grammar"

William Carlos Williams, Prologue to Kora in Hell

D. H. Lawrence, Preface to New Poems

Langston Hughes, "The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain"

Hart Crane, "A Letter to Harriet Monroe"

Marianne Moore, "Humility, Concentration, and Gusto"

Robert Frost, "The Figure a Poem Makes"

Wallace Stevens, "The Noble Rider and the Sound of Words"

Paul Valéry, "Poetry and Abstract Thought"

Theodor Adorno, "Lyric Poetry and Society"

Walter Benjamin, "The Task of the Translator"; "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction"

Kenneth Burke, from Philosophy of Literary Form: "The Philosophy of Literary Form"; "Semantic and Poetic Meaning"; "On Musicality in Verse"

Cleanth Brooks and Austin Warren, Understanding Poetry

PRIMARY TEXTS POST-1945 [pick 5]

W. H. Auden, "Writing"

Amiri Baraka, "The Myth of a 'Negro Literature'"

Louise Bennett, "Jamaica Language"

Charles Bernstein, A Poetics

Aimé Césaire, "Poetry and Knowledge"

Allen Ginsberg, "Notes Written on Finally Recording Howl

Robert Graves, "Harp, Anvil, Oar"

Seamus Heaney, "Feeling into Words"

Philip Larkin, "The Pleasure Principle"

Frank O'Hara, "Personism: A Manifesto"

Charles Olson, "Projective Verse"

Denise Levertov, "Some Notes on Organic Form"

Adrienne Rich, "When We Dead Awaken: Writing as Re-Vision"

Laura Riding Jackson, from The Telling (in Laura Riding Jackson Reader 2005)

Theodore Roethke, "What Do I Like"

Ron Silliman, "The New Sentence"

Dylan Thomas, "Poetic Manifesto"

Derek Walcott, "The Antilles: Fragments of Epic Memory"


** From The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics, 4th ed (Greene & Cushman, eds), entries on 

Poetics (Western), Poem, Poet, Poetry, Classical Poetics, Medieval Poetics, Poetics (Western), Poem, Poet, Poetry, Classical Poetics, Medieval Poetics, Renaissance Poetics, Neoclassical Poetics, Preromanticism, Romantic and Postromantic Poetry and Poetics, Modernism, Postmodernism, Postcolonial Poetics, Avant-Garde Poetics 

plus 4 additional entries of the student's choosing

To the above mandatory selection, add 5 of the following: 

Virginia Jackson and Yopie Prins, eds, The Lyric Theory Reader (2014) 

Jahan Ramazani, A Transnational Poetic (2009) 

Angela Leighton, On Form (2007) 

Jerome McGann, "Marking Texts of Many Dimensions" (2004) 

Stephen Adams, Poetic Designs (1997) 

Helen Vendler, Introduction to Soul Says (1996) 

Derek Attridge, Poetic Rhythm: An Introduction (1995) 

Jerome McGann, "The Truth of Poetry. An Argument" (1993) 

Dennis Taylor, Hardy's Literary Language and Victorian Philology (1993) 

Dennis Taylor, Hardy's Metres and Victorian Prosody (1988) 

Marjorie Perloff, "Lucent and Inescapable Rhythms: Metrical 'Choice' and Historical Formation" (1987) 

Stuart Curran, Poetic Form and British Romanticism (1986) 

Julia Kristeva, "Word, Dialogue, Novel"; "Revolution in Poetic Language" (1986) 

Stephen Cushman, William Carlos Williams and the Meanings of Measure (1985) 

John Hollander, Vision and Resonance (1985) 

Patricia Parker and Chaviva Hosek, eds, Lyric Poetry: Beyond New Criticism (1985) 

Carol Christ, Victorian and Modern Poetics (1984) 

Paul de Man, "The Rhetoric of Temporality" (from Blindness and Insight) (1983) 

Antony Easthope, Poetry as Discourse (1983) 

Alastair Fowler, Kinds of Literature (1982) 

Marjorie Perloff, "Pound/Stevens: Whose Era?" (1982) 

Marjorie Perloff, Poetics of Indeterminacy (1981) 

Justus Lawler, Celestial Pantomime: Poetic Structures of Transcendence (1979) 

Veronica Forrest-Thomson, Poetic Artifice. A Theory of Twentieth-century Poetry (1978) 

Andrew Welsh, The Roots of Lyric (1978) 

Jonathan Culler, Structuralist Poetics (1975) 

I. A. Richards, "Rhythm and Metre" (1974) 

Harold Bloom, The Anxiety of Influence (1973) 

Harold Bloom, "The Internalization of Quest Romance" (1970) 

Paul Fussell, Poetic Meter and Poetic Form (1965) 

W. K. Wimsatt and Monroe Beardsley, "The Concept of Meter: An Exercise in Abstraction" (1959) 

Northrop Frye, Anatomy of Criticism (1957) 

Sigurd Burckhardt, "The Poet as Fool and Priest" (from Shakespearean Meanings) (1956) 

William Empson, The Structure of Complex Words (1951) 

Jean Paul Sartre, "Black Orpheus" (1948) 

W. K. Wimsatt, "One Relation of Rhyme to Reason" (1944) 

George Saintsbury, History of English Prosody (the interchapters) (1906)