New Offered in Spring 2013 English 302: Forms of Poetry

English 302: Forms of Poetry
Mondays and Wednesdays 3:30-4:45
Oddfellows 106
Professor Quinn
Poeming the Dead: The Elegy and its Heirs

Although the elegy as a song of mourning or a lament for the dead is not, strictly speaking, a “form” of poetry, it is a distinct “mode” of structuring loss and grief with a complex tradition of thematic conventions and formal patterning. In this course we will study “classic” English language literary elegies (Lycidas, Elegy Written in a County Churchyard, Adonais, When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d, In Memory of W.B. Yeats) for the ways they structure the occasion of loss. We will then look at a wide range of more informal treatment of loss and death in poems that might be called “elegiac,” exploring the way these both honor and resist their famous precedents. Though elegy is not a “form,” we will study form in elegy, examining the ways in which (per Seamus Heaney)

Trochee, trochee, falling: thus
Grief and meter order us.

The course will emphasize close reading skills as well as the intertextuality of a tradition of elegiac verse in which poems are speaking to and of poems (and often poets) that precede them.