Lyric Poetry: East and West, Then and Now





Gordon Teskey (Department of English)
Freshman Seminar 64P     4 credits (spring term)     Enrollment:  Limited to 12

An introductory seminar on lyric poetry, with close reading of poems from four continents: Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas. Poetry not in English will be translated but students with competence in foreign languages are welcome to work with the originals. 

We start with ancient poetry of Greece and Rome (such as Pindar, Sappho, Virgil, and Horace), move to medieval and Renaissance lyric poets of France, Italy, and England (such as Villon, Petrarch, Politian, Donne, Herbert, Marvell), as well as classical poetry from China (Li Po, Tu Fu, Li Qingzhao), Japan (Nobutada, Takuan, Shokado), and Persia (Hafez, Rumi).  

The modern and contemporary developments in lyric poetry are shown in poems and songs from Great Britain (Bryon, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Keats, Shelley), Germany (Goethe, Hölderlin, Rilke, Bachmann), France (Hugo, Baudelaire), Canada (Leonard Cohen, Margaret Atwood, Jan Zwicky), the US (T. S. Eliot, Maya Angelou, Rita Dove, Bob Dylan, Jorie Graham, Louise Gluck, Tracy K. Smith), China (Bei Dao and Xiao An), and Mexico (Octavio Paz and Rosario Castellanos). 

The first purpose of the seminar is to provide knowledge of poetry from the past and from around the world. The second purpose of the seminar is to provide students with a grounding to write poetry themselves. Weekly exercises include posted comments, translations, and poems.

See also: Spring 2023