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Course Description

John Donne, Gerard Manley Hopkins, H. D. (Hilda Doolittle), and Wallace Stevens wrote new poems unlike any before them and profoundly influenced poets who came after. Among their greatest attributes are passion and compression. Like all great innovators, they can be hard, at first, to understand; but the effort brings great reward. In this course, we will explore short poems from each and a few others. The poems come first, and most of the class time will be spent in close reading led by the instructor, but we will also learn about the poets' lives and times. We will develop skills that enable better understanding of these great poems, leading to a more pleasurable experience reading them and all poetry. This will be a seminar and led discussion and not a straight lecture. Poems will be e-mailed the week before each class so students can begin their own close reading. No books are required, but you are encouraged to read widely. Mr. Shaw taught a short version of this course at OLLI in the spring 2013 term.

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