Instead of a course of lectures we shall be examining together a relatively small number of poems in some detail in order to see how English poetic language developed. The framework will be chronological, the examples drawn from successive historical styles and periods, i.e. the Elizabethan sonnet; Metaphysical verse; the Augustans; the Romantics; the Victorians; poets of the First World War; Modernists and Post-Modernists. Thus we will try to integrate detail and context. Poets considered might include Shakespeare, Donne, Marvell, Pope, Wordsworth, Keats, Browning, Hardy, Kipling, Owen, Eliot and one or two more contemporary writers.
No prior literary study or specific skill is needed other than a curiosity about literary language and a willingness to consider different ideas about how poetry works and how it can be can be enjoyed through a combination of close scrutiny of the words on the page and some awareness of the cultural period from which it emerges.