English 207: Studies in Poetry

Dr. Morillo

Fall 2016
Section 001 Tompkins G 113 M, W 1:30-2:45

Office: Tompkins 270

Office hours: Tuesdays, 10:30-12:30; Wednesdays 3-4 and by appointment

Email: morillo@ncsu.edu

Web syllabus: http://www4.ncsu.edu/unity/users/m/morillo/public/20716.htm

Dr. Morillo’s homepage=http://www4.ncsu.edu/unity/users/m/morillo/public/index.htm

GEP Information: Fulfills 3 hrs. Humanities GEP. This course will help you to: 

  1. understand and engage in the human experience through the interpretation of literature 
  2. become aware of the act of interpretation itself as a critical form of knowing in the study of literature; and
  3. make scholarly arguments about literature using reasons and ways of supporting those reasons that are appropriate to the field of study.

Course Description: 

Current American poet Billy Collins claims that poems can inspire us and make us think about what it means to be a member of the human race. Countless other poets have agreed with him that poetry paints a uniquely valuable picture of how and why we think and feel. Whether as old as Homer’s dactylic hexameter or as recent as Mos Def’s fluent freestyle rap, the pleasure of word play is a vital part of any education. No matter what your interests or major, learning how to read a poem can hone the precision of your thinking, cultivate economy and grace in your writing and speaking, and expand your world. 

To learn to appreciate and analyze poetry, we will study its formal elements first. These comprise the tools in every poet’s tool kit: rhyme and meter, lineation, tone, voice, figurative language, and other elements of poetics. After an in-depth study of the sonnet, we will move to open form poetry characteristic of much current verse. We will practice interpreting the heady blend of wit and judgment in works by wide range of English-speaking poets from Britain and America, including Frost, Keats, Coleridge, Yeats, Donne, Herrick, Bishop, Whitman, Collins, as well as poems by current NC State poets.  While not primarily a creative writing class, the course will provide opportunity to write some poetry of your own and to be creative. We will be reading texts chosen from the Renaissance to contemporary periods and representing a variety of kinds and styles.


Course Objectives
By studying how poets see, think, and write about the world, you will be learning how to improve your thinking, reading, speaking and writing skills. The majority of the written work will be papers, some analytic and argumentative, others creative. There will be  periodic quizzes, a midterm and a comprehensive final. 


Learning Outcomes
At the end of the course students should be able to:

Your improved ability to exercise skills in bullets 1-3 above will be measured against how well you can initially exercise these skills when you first join the class. To help measure that baseline ability, you will all first have to write a paper interpreting two short poems of different kinds. This paper will help me determine your entering ability as writer and a thinker. Subsequent letter-graded papers and two exams will allow me to assess how well you have improved in knowledge of interpreting poetry.

Course Requirements 

All phones, tablets, or computers will be turned off during class unless I say to turn them on.

Bring the Seagull Reader to class every day.

1. Attendance  (see policy below): 5% of final grade. 0 absences = A+, 1-2 absences = A, 3 absences = A-; 4 absences = C-, 5 absences = D-, 6 or more absences = F

2. Participation: 10 % of final grade. Includes doing the readings, in-class discussion, quizzes, in-class writing assignments   

3. Paper 1 Pass/Fail: 5% of final grade.  2? Interpretations (Pass = A 11 points; Fail = F, 0 points)

4. Paper 2,  letter-graded: 10% of final grade. Poets and Poems. Biography and Interpretation

5. Paper 3, draft phase: 5 % of final grade.  Best poem argument.

6. Paper 3 revised: 15% of final grade

7. Midterm exam = 15% of final grade

8. Creative Project = 15% of final grade

9. 10. Final exam =20 % of final grade


total =                      100%

How I Figure Your Grades
Percentages for each required graded category are figured via a percentage of a 12-pt. scale in which an A+ =12 and 
an F=0 points. For example, a B+ on paper 2 would net you 9 x .10 or .9 points, 10% of the 9 points a B is worth.  Or, a C for oral presentation nets you 5 x .10 or .5, an A on the final nets you 11 x .20 or 2.2 points.
I then add up the percentage points for each required category to determine your grade from 0 to 12.  For example, an 8.2 final score = B for the class.

Participation includes your grades on periodic quizzes, and coming to class prepared, having done the readings and being able to talk and write about them intelligently.

You must complete all the required work to pass the class. No opting out of assigned work.  I will grade plus/minus.

Attendance: You are allowed 3 absences. If you are absent, unexcused, more than 3 times over the course of the semester, your absences will count progressively against your final grade,  Every 3 absences beyond the allowed 3 earns you an F for attendance % of you grade PLUS 6 or more absences loses you full letter grade from your final grade. 

Instructor's policies on attendance, (excused and unexcused) absences, and scheduling makeup work. Also see the university Attendance Regulation (REG02.20.03)  to access university definitions of excused absences.

Plagiarism: Anyone convicted will receive an F for the paper, or the course at my discretion. And yes, I have caught people in the past--in this course, in fact.

Late Papers: Papers received ONE class session late will be accepted but docked a full grade. No late papers accepted after one class session late. 


"Reasonable accommodations will be made for students with verifiable disabilities. In order to take advantage of available accommodations, students must register with Disability Services for Students at 1900 Student Health Center, Campus Box 7509, 515-7653. For more information on NC State's policy on working with students with disabilities, please see the Academic Accommodations for Students with Disabilities Regulation (REG02.20.01)"

Academic Integrity Assumption 
Universities are unique communities committed to creating and transmitting knowledge. They depend on freedom - individuals' freedom to explore ideas and to explore and further their own capabilities. Those freedoms depend on the good will and responsible behavior of all the members of the community, who must treat each other with tolerance and respect. They must allow each other to develop the full range of their capabilities and take full advantage of the institution's resources.

 Honor Pledge: 
"I have neither given nor received unauthorized aid on this test or assignment." The syllabus may specify that the Honor Pledge be signed on each test or assignment or that it is the understanding and expectation of faculty that the student's signature on any test or assignment means that the student neither gave nor received unauthorized aid.

Required Print Texts--available now in the NCSU bookstore.

   Kelly, Joseph., ed. The Seagull Reader: Poems. 2nd ed.New York: W. W. Norton, 2001.    $21.15
     All readings from this Norton Anthology are indicated by page numbers in parentheses.   

 Required Online Texts, Sound, and Video Files. Many of the linked online poems are found at Poetry Foundation , and Poets.Org, excellent sites for expanding your poetic horizons.

All of the blue links in the syllabus, plus:
  Guide to Poetics and Prosody (Morillo)

 The Poet’s Language Toolkit: Punctuation, Lineation, Syntax (Morillo)

All blue text hyperlinks are to be followed and read, listened to, or watched.

Recommended further Readings:
Lennard, John. The Poetry Handbook: A Guide to Reading Poetry for Pleasure and Practical Criticism. 1st or 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1996.    $18.95

  How to Use the Oxford English Dictionary Online (Morillo)

SYLLABUS page numbers in parentheses (  ) are for the Seagull Reader, 2nd edition; square brackets [ ] are dates a poem was published

W 8-17

Introduction: Reading and Listening

Robert Frost, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening (p. 129). Frost Reads


William Carlos Williams, The Red Wheelbarrow (p. 338). Williams Reads


Randall Jarrell, The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner (p. 176) Jarrell Reads


Elizabeth Bishop, The Fish (p. 29) Bishop Reads


Gwendolyn Brooks, We Real Cool (p. 45) Brooks Reads


Robert Hayden, Those Winter Sundays (p. 147) Hayden Reads


Aaron Belz, Alberto V05 @ 21:31


Taylor Mali, Like, Ya Know



M 8-22

Book and Syllabus Quiz today : be sure to bring each to class today and every day


What is Poetry? Poets Respond

Wendell Berry "How to Be a Poet"

Charles Bernstein, What Makes a Poem a Poem


Billy Collins, Introduction to Poetry (p. 73)

Archibald MacLeish, Ars Poetica ( p. 215)

Marianne Moore, Poetry (p. 226)


W 8-24

First Paper Assignment due today at the start of class, on paper

 Metaphor, the Soul of Poetry

 Read for today: musical metaphors

 poets’ metaphors and similes,

Sylvia Plath, Metaphors (p. 237)

William Carlos Williams, To Waken an Old Lady (third poem down on page)

Poetry News 2016: Norton Recitation Contest


M 8-29

Tools for Writing and Understanding  Poetry


Read : Guide to Poetics and Prosody

The Poet’s Language Toolkit: Punctuation, Lineation, Syntax (Morillo)

Charles Bernstein's Poem Profiler

W 8-31

We will discuss your interpretations of the poems you wrote about in Paper 1, and I will offer some of my own.  

M 9-5

NO CLASS, Labor Day Holiday


W 9-7

Sound and Rhyme, the Melody of Poetry


Review for today:  the section on rhyme in Guide to Poetics and Prosody

The pleasure of sound:

Lewis Carroll Jabberwocky ( p. 61)  Galway Kinnell, Blackberry Eating ( p.189).

Kinds of Rhyme:

monorhyme:  Thomas Hardy, The Convergence of the Twain (p. 141
rhymed couplets:  Robert Browning, My Last Duchess ( p. 48) MacLeish, Ars Poetica (p. 215)
alternate rhyme:   Edward Robinson, Richard Cory (p.265); Hardy, Hap (p.140);
internal rhyme: Yusef Komunyakaa,  Facing It (p. 193)

slant rhyme: Wilfred Owen, Strange Meeting



M – 9-12


Spoken Sound and Rhyme:


hearing rhyme styles in rap & hiphop (lyrics and audio)

W 9-14

Poet's Tool Kit: Meter, the Beat of Poetry


Read for today: Guide to Poetics and Prosody  on meter.

Seagull Reader p. 416, glossary entry for meter and


Read the poems listed below for examples of formal, accentual syllabic verse:

Iambic Tetrameter Poems

Christopher Marlowe, The Passionate Shepherd to His Love (p. 219)

Robert Herrick, Upon Julia's Clothes (p. 160);

Ben Jonson, On My First Daughter (p. 178)

Iambic pentameter, rhymed in couplets (heroic couplets)

 Robert Browning, My Last Duchess (p.48);

Alexander Pope, from Essay on Man 

Trochaic Tetrameter Poems  Henry Longfellow, Song of Haiwatha
Alternating Trochaic & Iambic Tetrameter

A. E. Housman Shot? so quick, so clean an ending? ( p.168 )

M 9-19

Ballad Meter / Common Meter (alternating tetrameter &  iambic trimeter lines)

Ben Jonson, Song to Celia (p. 177) ;

William Wordsworth, A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

Felicia Hemans, Casabianca (p. 155)

Emily Dickinson, Because I Could Not Stop for Death (p. 91)

Anapestic meter

Dr. Seuss (Theodore Geisel), The Cat in the Hat (pdf)

Lord Byron, The Destruction of Sennacherib

Hip Hop Metrics
MC Lars Teaches Prosody

W 9-21

In-Class Meter & rhyme quiz 

M 9-26

Controlling Pace:

review the Poet's Tool Kit


Punctuation, enjambment in Robert Frost, After Apple-Picking (pp. 123-4)  (Frost reads his poem)

Frost's punctuation in After Apple-Picking   Frost's sentence structure in After Apple-Picking    Frost's meter in After Apple-Picking  a key image (ice lens photo)

Frost on his  own work

W 9-28

Using All the Tools: reading for rhyme, meter, lineation in Frost, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening (p. 129)

go to Charles Bernstein's poem profiler here:
and select whatever parts of it are most relevant to understanding Frost's poem. IN class we'll see how you applied the profiler and we will scan the poem and mark its rhyme scheme.

M 10-3

Paper 2 due today

In Class Practice with  Formal Poetry: Scanning Lines and Marking Rhymes

Practicing making a consistent, regular meter

W 10-5

 No class

M 10-10


The Enduring Sonnet

William Shakespeare, Sonnets #12, 18 (original 16th-c pronunciation), 73 (pp. 274-279) #116 (modern pronunciation original pronunciation) 129, 130 (pp. 274-279)

All audio from Shakespeare's Original Pronunciation. British Library, 2012. Cd-rom.

review in class for midterm

W 10-12


17th-Century British Sonnets

John Donne, Holy Sonnets #10, 14 (p. 100);

Donne's original prounciation from Virtual Paul's Cross Project

John Milton,  When I Consider How My Light is Spent (p. 225) The Parable of the Talents in Milton’s poem

Midterm:  Poetics and Prosody Test = Part I 20 questions @ 4pts/each, allot 20-25 minutes; Part II 1 new poem to interpret , choice from 2@ 20 pts, allot 20-25 minutes   BE SURE TO ARRIVE ON TIME.  Closed book & notebook

M 10-17

review in class for midterm

W 10-19

Midterm:  Poetics and Prosody Test = Part I 20 questions @ 4pts/each, allot 20-25 minutes; Part II 1 new poem to interpret , choice from 2@ 20 pts, allot 20-25 minutes   BE SURE TO ARRIVE ON TIME.  Closed book & notebook

M 10-24

19th-Century British Sonnets

John Keats, On First Looking Into Chapman’s Homer (p. 179); When I Have Fears (p. 180)

Percy Shelley, Ozymandias (p. 279)

Charlotte Smith, Sonnet XLIV in Elegiac Sonnets

Christina Rosetti, After Death (p. 271)

Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Sonnets from the Portuguese # 32, 43 (p.47)

W 10-26

20th-Century Sonnets

William Yeats, Leda and the Swan (p. 362 ) 

Robert Frost, The Silken Tent (p. 131)

Robert Hayden, Those Winter Sundays (p. 147);

Edna St. Vincent Millay, Love Is Not All (p. 224)

Elizabeth Bishop, Sonnet (p. 34) 

M 10-31

The Loosening of Form : Keeping Meter, Loosing Rhyme


Blank Verse (unrhymed iambic pentameter)

John Milton, Paradise Lost

Wordsworth , Nutting (p. 349)

Robert Browning, My Last Duchess (p. 48)

Frost, Home Burial (p. 119)

W 11-2


Creative Projects Due

 Reading of sonnet or display of CP group 1

M 11-7

Reading of sonnet or display of CP group 2

W 11-9

Vers Libre! The Free Verse Revolution

Walt Whitman, from Song of Myself (p. 325 ); A Noiseless Patient Spider (p. 333); When I Heard the Learned Astronomer (p. 333), Cavalry Crossing a Ford (p. 334).

Library of Congress: Digital First Edition of Whitman, Leaves of Grass First Edition plus modern html transcription of Leaves of Grass

M 11-14

 20th-Century Free Verse, Open Form Poetry

Sharon Olds, Sex Without Love (231); Elizabeth Bishop, The Fish (p. 29); Billy Collins, On Turning Ten (p. 76) William Stafford, Traveling Through the Dark (p. 293 (audio)  Stafford’s revisions of the manuscript of Traveling

Allen Ginsberg,  A Supermarket in California (p. 133) (link=Ginsberg reads it)  Marjorie Perloff talks about Supermarket in California

Charles Bernstein, In Particular

Free Verse, a Journal of Contemporary Poetry

W 11-16


Visit from Chris Tonelli, NC State MA, poet, bookstore owner (So and So Books, N. Person St)

M  11-21


Paper 3, due as draft today


 Elegantly Complex Forms: Guest Teacher, Kyle Rosko (MFA program)

student sonnet workshop



Dylan Thomas, Do Not Go Gentle  into That Good Night (p. 313)  Bishop, One Art (p. 33),



Sestinas: Elizabeth Bishop “Sestina” (28), Jamaal May “The Hum of Zug Island” (http://www.kenyonreview.org/journal/summer-2013/selections/jamaal-may/), AE Stallings “Like” (https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poems/detail/56250) and Jonah Winter “Bob” (http://rawyouth.blogspot.com/2005/03/sestina-bob.html), Kyle Rosko, “Sadlack’s Heroes”

W 11-23

No class


M 11-28

21st-Century Spoken Word

Billy Collins on The Great Poets, and oral vs. written, high style vs. the language of the people in poetry

Common, Live at the White House;  Harry Baker, British Slam Poetry Champ, Taylor Mali, I’ll Fight You For the Library


W 11-30

Review for Final Exam

How to be a Poet (Wendell Berry)

W 12 14

FINAL EXAM  in class, 1-4pm.  Paper 3, due revised today at start of exam