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Poetry: How to Read and Analyse Poetry

12. Syntax

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About this Lecture

Lecture

In this module, we turn to syntax, or word-order, both within the English language in general and within poetry in particular.

As we move through the module, we consider three examples where the syntax has been altered—in two cases rendering the line ungrammatical—and discuss the impact of the syntactical changes in each.


Poetry credits:

William Shakespeare, The Tragedie of King Lear 4.2.27-9, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies. Published according to the True Originall Copies (London: printed by Isaac Iaggard and Ed. Blount, 1623)

John Berryman, '20. The Secret of the Wisdom', l. 1, from The Dream Songs (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1969)

Robert Browning, 'The Bishop Orders his Tomb at St. Praxed's Church', ll. 1-5, from Bells and Pomegranates. No. VII. -- Dramatic Romances (London: Edward Moxon, 1845)

Course

In this course, Professor John Lennard talks through the craft of poetry in a course that draws on his international bestseller, The Poetry Handbook, which has been a favourite with both sixth-form students and undergraduates since its first publication in 1996. As we move through the course, we look at every technical aspect of poetry, including metre, form, layout, lineation, rhyme, diction, syntax, before thinking about how much readers of poetry should draw on historical and biographical context when analysing and interpreting poetry.

Throughout the course, technical discussion of poetry is richly illustrated with examples from some of the greatest poets in the English language, including: William Shakespeare, George Herbert, John Donne, Andrew Marvell, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Robert Browning, Wilfred Owen, W. B. Yeats, Philip Larkin, Seamus Heaney, Geoffrey Hill, and Derek Walcott.

Lecturer

Born in Bristol, and educated at Oxford and St Louis, Dr John Lennard has taught English, American, and Commonwealth Literature in Cambridge, London, and Jamaica over more than twenty years. He has written two widely used textbooks (on poetry and drama) and monographs on Shakespeare, Paul Scott, Nabokov, and Faulkner, as well as two collections of essays on contemporary genre writers in crime, science fiction and fantasy, and romance. Enthusiastic, discursive, widely knowledgeable, and a demon for punctuation (on which he has also published extensively), he has been a popular Summer School Course Leader and lecturer for the Institute of Continuing Education since 1992.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Lennard, J. (2018, August 15). Poetry: How to Read and Analyse Poetry - Syntax [Video]. MASSOLIT. https://www.massolit.io/courses/poetry-how-to-read-and-analyse-poetry/syntax

MLA style

Lennard, John. "Poetry: How to Read and Analyse Poetry – Syntax." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018, https://www.massolit.io/courses/poetry-how-to-read-and-analyse-poetry/syntax