Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Classes (2): Reading Poetry

Today Milton, with addenda.

We're reading the selections from Paradise Lost in the Norton Anthology of Poetry, fifth edition, along with "On the Late Massacre at Piedmont." This means that we're skipping "On the Morning of Christ's Nativity," "On Shakespeare," "L'Allegro" and "Il Penseroso," and a lot of other good stuff, but in an hour and a half, how much can you really cover? (How much would they read?)

With the sonnet, I want to give them a bit of history: we now have a new topic, contemporary politics, available to the form. And a bit of close reading--at least, I want them to see how the poem is structured by a series of imperatives ("Avenge," "Forget not," "sow") and by an implicit question about what the poet can in fact do, writing from this distance. (An "angle of approach" question, a compositional problem, that is to say.) Oh, and maybe something about his enjambments.

Then it's on to Blank Verse, via that little paragraph about "The Verse" (freedom from rhyme as an "ancient liberty recovered"). I've asked them to read Jonson's "Fit of Rhyme Against Rhyme" as well, to set this up. If you're a teacher, and don't know it, here it is. Fun stuff! Here's a paper assignment on the poem, from someone at Cornell: option 2 on the page. Use at will, friends.

Off to read, and be ready. I'll let you know later how it went.

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