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Literature of Poetry

Old English Period

What is Old English?
name given to the earliest recorded stage of the English language, up to approximately 1150AD (when the Middle English period is generally taken to have begun).

More information on Old English
It refers to the language as it was used in the long period of time from the coming of Germanic invaders and settlers to Britain—in the period following the collapse of Roman Britain in the early fifth century—up to the Norman Conquest of 1066, and beyond into the first century of Norman rule in England. It is thus first and foremost the language of the people normally referred to by historians as the Anglo-Saxons.

First Speech by?
Gallic people (Celtics)

What are Germanic people?
Anglo-Saxons (Germanic people)

Who is King Alfred?

What is Germanic Language?

What are Thanes?
king “crew”; knights

What are Chiral?

Women were used as
tools of peace

Explain Beowulf

Old English Poetic Line

a compound expression in Old English and Old Norse poetry with metaphorical meaning

e.g., oar-steed = ship.

Negative understatement

EX: getting sliced open in a battle, in poetry they sat, “that was no little knick”

Repeatedly rename something in different terms

The occurrence of the same letter or sound at the beginning of adjacent or closely connected words. (cat, castle, cali, calf)

“Caedmon’s Hymn”
Earliest extant Old English poem

Middle English Period
12th century- 1470s


Attuned to people

Worked as a valet at 2 palaces

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Saw nobility life

Went to France and Italy as a diplomat (read their literature)

Brought back that literature to England and wrote it in English

Thinks “farts” are funny

Sense of humor

A member of Parliament

Justice of Peace

Went to war in England and lost his appointment; this caused him to write the Canterbury Tales

Estate Satire
Makes a joke at society and shows how ridiculous people are

Goal is to inspire change

Based on stereotypes associated with people’s occupations

The Canterbury Tales

What is “The general Prologue” to the Canterbury Tales
Framed narrative

What is Frame Narrative?
Story from which other narratives can be told story inside a story

Canterbury Tales
30 pilgrims

South London

Going on a pilgrimage to Canterbury

Owner of the tavern suggests that each person tell four stories in order to pass the time (2 there, 2 back)

Chaucer died before finishing the CT

30 x 4 = 120 tales; only 22 tales

Chaucer thought that clergy members were corrupt

The monk likes to hunt

Squire (knights son) likes to hunt

Renaissance Period
The rebirth of classical learning, art, and literature

Classical referring to ancient Greeks and Romans

Thomas Wyatt
16th century


Lyrical poet

Introduced the sonnet to English literature

Rumored affair with Anne Boleyn

Earl of Surry
16th Century English sonnet

English aristocrat

One of the early founders of the English Renaissance

14 lines

Lies for expression of emotion

Usually portrays love or unrequited love

Italy (first place to undergo the Renaissance)

Petrarch/ Petrarch Sonnet
First 8 lines grouped together= octave

Last 6 lines = sestet

Father of sonnets and sonnet sequence/ cycle

Sonnet Cycle
Sonnet in Italian= song

A man in love with a woman who doesn’t love him back

He idealizes her (she is perfect)

Lovesick, wont eat/sleep

Woman see’s he has good taste and feels sorry for him

He writes sonnets to console himself (Prelapsarian)

First 8 lines of Petrarch’s sonnet’s

Last 6 lines of Petrarch’s sonnet’s

Means “turn”, Italian

Shepard’s herding their flocks (nature, rural poetry)

Started with Greeks and Romans in ancient time because Shepard was a common occupation

Who is Buidgal?
Roman who wrote pastoral poetry

Describes nature

“pre”= before

“laps”= you miss something/ mess something up; distance, missing a distance

“prelaps”= before a fall

A time before the fall of a man, before Adam and eve sinned

Not against

Describes nature after the fall

Worked against

“The Passionate Shepard to His Love”
By: Christopher Marlowe

Theme= love

Style= pastoral

One of the earliest British pastoral style in the late Renaissance period

(16th century, 1599)

“The Nymph’s Reply to the Shepard”

Not everyday is perfect

Accuses him of lying

World was young before he fall

Edmund Spenser
Most renowned English poet of the Renaissance

Master of a wide range of poetic forms

Wrote an epic on the roman tradition

“The Shepard’s Calendar” (12 parts; dedicated to each month of the year; pastoral poem)

Wrote a sonnet cycle called “Amoretti”

Sonnet cycle by Edmund Spenser

A blazon (pg. 139)

Philip Sidney

Elizabethan age

Astrophil and Stella

Philip Sidney

English sonnet sequence

Containing 108 sonnets and 11 songs.

The name derives from the two Greek words, ‘aster’ (star) and ‘phil’ (lover), and the Latin word ‘stella’ meaning star.

Thus Astrophil is the star lover, and Stella is his star.

Sidney partly nativized the key features of his Italian model Petrarch,

Including an ongoing but partly obscure narrative, t

He philosophical trappings of the poet in relation to love and desire, and

musings on the art of poetic creation.

Sidney also adopts the Petrarchan rhyme scheme, though he uses it with such freedom that fifteen variants are employed

Some have suggested that the love represented within the sequence may be a literal one as

William Shakespear
William Shakespeare (1564 – 1616) was born at Stratford-upon Avon in a house in Henley Street.

From the age of seven to about 14, he attended Stratford Grammar School receiving an excellent well rounded education.

At the age of 18 Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway, who was seven years his senior and three months pregnant.

He endured her until he could stand it no longer and fled to London to become an actor.

He then became actor-manager and part-owner in the
Blackfriars and afterwards the Globe Theatres.

Shakespeare returned to Stratford for his latter years where he died at the age of 52 and now lies at rest in his special grave at Holy Trinity Church.

Plays of William Shakespeare
His 37 plays vary in type; historical romances, light, fantastic comedies, some are tragedies, all including the comical and the farcical. He was a shrewd business man, amassing quite a fortune in his time.

Shakespeare Sonnet
another term for Elizabethan sonnet.

The sonnet form used by Shakespeare, composed of three quatrains and a terminal couplet in iambic pentameter with the rhyme pattern abab cdcd efef gg. Also called Elizabethan sonnet, English sonnet.

Sonnets by Shakespear

Sonnet 1
o Imagery

o Metaphorical comparison- natural, agricultural

o Want people to reproduce

o Want beautiful things to procreate so beauty will continue

Sonnet 18
o Metaphor

o Summer is not perfect, but the person is

Sonnet 20
o Platonic love= addressed to a man friend

o Talking about a man

o Complimenting him

o Nature must have started making a woman, then you became a man

Sonnet 130
o Addressed to a woman

o Anti-blazon, against Petrarch

o Bashing her, but loves her anyway for her imperfections

o Makes fun of poets who are too “romantic” about women

o Mocking romantic style poems

17th Century Period

Metaphysical School of Poetry
Cavalier School
Milton and his Imitations

Metaphysical School of Poetry

Means: “that which is above and beyond the physical”

Encompasses the physical

Sacred and secular poetry

Metaphysical poets poetry

What is the Metaphysical School of Poetry 3 traits?
1. Witty and clever

2. Paradox (contradiction) ” die to be born again”

3. Conceit/extended metaphor (a comparison; the two things being compared are far-fetched)

Cavalier School
Poets are “heirs” of the sonnet tradition, but don’t always write sonnets

Aristocratic/noblemen poets

Write courtly poetry (men “wooing” women)

Continuation of sonnet tradition

Modeled after roman poets to some extent

“Carpe Diem” as a theme (sexual)

Love poetry

We need to “Seize the day because of Tempus Fugit” (time flies)

Robert Heric

Milton and his Imitations
Wrote English Christian Epic (Paradise Laws)

John Milton

John Donne
Metaphysical poet

Pg. 191

“The Flea”
Far-fetched comparison


Not directly told what the woman’s response is

Coming on to strong to her

Denys him sex

Mixing of blood “mixing of body fluids”


Sacrilegious to kill the flea (3 in 1; holy trinity)

Holy Sonnets
The Holy Sonnets—also known as the Divine Meditations or Divine Sonnet

a series of nineteen poems by the English poet John Donne (1572-1631).

The sonnets were first published in 1633—two years after Donne’s death.

The poems are sonnets and are predominantly in the style and form prescribed by Renaissance Italian poet Petrarch (or Francesco Petrarca) (1304-1374) in which the sonnet consisted of two quatrains (four-line stanzas) and a sestet (a six-line stanza).

However, several rhythmic and structural patterns as well as the inclusion of couplets are elements influenced by the sonnet form developed by English poet and playwright William Shakespeare (1564-1616).

contrary to expectations, existing belief or perceived opinion. It is a statement thatappears to be self-contradictory or silly but may include a latent truth. It is also used to illustrate an opinion or statement contrary to accepted traditional ideas. A paradox is often used to make a reader think over an idea in innovative way.

“Batter My Heart, Three-Personed God”
By: John Donne

Style= Italian sonnet; Petrarch style

From the Holy Sonnets

About a man pleading with God to change him

Feels imprisoned by his own sins

Desperate longing for renewal

“Death, be Not Proud, Though Some Have Called Thee”
By: John Donne

10th Sonnet of the Holy Sonnets

death isn’t such a powerful/scary thing

Cavalier Poetry
Poets are “heirs” of the sonnet tradition, but don’t always write sonnets

Aristocratic/noblemen poets

Write courtly poetry (men “wooing” women)

Continuation of sonnet tradition

Modeled after roman poets to some extent

“Carpe Diem” as a theme (sexual)

Love poetry

We need to “Seize the day because of Tempus Fugit” (time flies)

Robert Herrick

Robert Herrick
Cavalier Poet

Carpe Diem
Seize the day

Tempus Fugit
Time flies

“To the Virgins to Make Much of Time”
By: Robert Herrick

Theme= time

17th century

Life is short, love is beautiful, so make the most out of the short time you have

Carpe diem genre

George Herbert
Metaphysical poet

Shape Policy
typographical arrangement of words is as important in conveying the intended effect as the elements of the poem, meaning of words, rhythm, etc.

Emblematic Policy
Victorian era, words replaced with letters or images that represent

Concrete Policy
the meaning or effect is conveyed partly or wholly by visual means

“The Temple”
By: George Herbert

Title of collection of Devotional Lyric Poems (170)


3 parts

Clear and direct style

About the church

“The Alter”
By: George Herbert

Hieroglyphic poem

Allusions to the Bible

“Easter Wings”
By: George Herbert

Religious paradox

John Milton
Wrote English Christian Epic (Paradise Laws)

“Paradise Lost”
Written by John Milton

By: John Milton

Pastoral elegy


Irregularly rhymed, 193 lines

17th century

Pastoral Elegy
An elegy is a poem on the death of someone. And pastoral suggest that the elegyis related to ‘shepherd’, and rustic life. Pastoral elegies are poems in which the poet speaks in the guise of a shepherd in a peaceful landscape and expresses his grief on the death of another shepherd. –

“When I Consider How My Light Is Spent”
By: John Milton

Sonnet 19


Desires to serve God more

“Methought I Saw”
By: John Milton

Sonnet 23

Speaker see’s his wife return to him (dream vision)

Andrew Marvell

Metaphysical poet


Lyric poems

“To his Coy Mistress”
By: Andrew Marvell

Metaphysical poem

English, 17th Century

Carpe diem poem

The woman in the poem is slow to respond to the man’s sexual advancements

He could admire each part of her body for centuries

Once life is over, the opportunity to enjoy each other is gone

Restoration and 18th Century Period

Age of Satire (sometimes called Augustinian age)

Augustan Poetry
“Age of Satire”

A branch of Augustan literature

Refers to the poetry of the 18th century, specifically the first half of the century.

The term comes most originally from a term that George I had used for himself.

He saw himself as an Augustus.

Therefore, the British poets picked up that term as a way of referring to their own endeavors, for it fit in another respect: 18th-century English poetry was political, satirical, and marked by the central philosophical problem of whether the individual or society took precedence as the subject of verse.

Poking fun at society’s issues in the hope that people will do better

Heroic Couplet
a pair of rhyming iambic pentameters, much used by Chaucer and the poets of the 17th and 18th centuries such as Alexander Pope.

Mock Heroic
Imitating the style of heroic literature in order to satirize an unheroic subject.

Alexander Pope
Heroic couplet

“The Rape of the Lock”
By: Alexander Pope

Mock heroic narrative

18th Century

Satires a minor incident by comparing it to the epic world of the gods

Age of Sentimentality

Sentimental- thinking about your past

Poetry at this time was an attempt to connect with people’s emotions

Death allows all of us to be sentimental

Age of Sentimentality leads to
Leads to the “Romantic Age”
such as The Enlightenment

Thomas Gray
o Referred to as a “graveyard poet”

Poems set in graveyards

Graveyard Poets
Thomas Grey

Poems set in graveyards

“Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard”
By: Thomas Gray

18th Century

Elegy in name, but not in form

Death and remembrance after death

Remembrance can be a good thing and a bad thing

Oliver Goldsmith
The Deserted Village

The Deserted Village
By Oliver Goldsmith

Rhyme scheme= rhyming couplets

Tembec pentameter

Heroic Couplet

Lots of images

Great place to live, tight-knit community

Everyone knows/likes everyone

The place is no more

The speaker is reminiscing on the place that is no longer there

Tyrant= aristocrat who owns the land and ran people off

“Before and After” of the place

Now the place is very unkempt, no brook, weeds, only birds and flies left and the

landowner (abandoned)

Romanticism/Romantic Period
1780-1830 (French and American Revolution)

Idea of “equality”

Six Great romantic Poets:
1st generation: Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge

2nd generation: Byron, Shelley, Keats

Romanticism: The Enlightment
Revolution, Equality, Individuality, Common Man, Nature, Childhood, imagination, Medievalism/Gothicism, The Ballad,

William Blake

“The Lamb”

“The Little Black Boy”


The songs of Innocence and Experience
By: William Blake

Two phases


Childhood is a state of protected innocence rather than original sin

18th century

The songs of Innocence= 19 poems

The songs of Experience= 26 poems

“The Lamb”

Trochaic trimeter

Speaker: child

Child speaks to lamb

“The Tyger”

Part of the Song of Experience collection

Duality between aesthetic beauty and primal ferocity

Sister to the poem “The Lamb”

William Wordsworth
Companion poems

Lyrical Ballads
By: William Wordsworth and Samuel Coleridge

English Romantic Movement

Used normal, everyday language

“Tintern Abbey”
By: William Wordsworth

Blank verse

Childhood memories

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Founder of Romantic Movement with William Wordsworth

Helped introduce philosophy to the English speaking culture

Anxiety and depression

Conversational Poetry

“Kubla Khan”
Samuel Coleridge

Written after an opium-influenced dream

About the emperor of China

He wrote down most of the dream until he was interrupted by a guest, and he forgot the rest later


“Frost at Midnight”
Samuel Coleridge

Conversation poem

Discusses his childhood negatively, emphasizes the need to be raised in the countryside

Hopes for his son

“The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”
Samuel Coleridge

His longest poem

In the first addition of the Lyrical Ballads

Sailor returning from a long sea voyage, narrates the story to a man he meets who is on his way to a wedding

Percy Bysshe Shelley
English romantic poet

Lyric poet

Non-violence in protest and political action

Percy Bysshe Shelley



Egyptian Pharaoh

“Ode to the West Wind”

Terza Rima

Two parts

Wind, and relation between the wind and the speaker

John Keats
Died at age 25

Romantic poet

“When I Have Fears”
John Keats

Elizabethan sonnet

Iambic pentameter

“La Belle Dame sans Merci”
John Keats


Not simple

Full of enigmas

Refers to a medieval style

Often set in the past

Takes place in a castle/dark mysterious building

“Ode on a Grecian Urn”
John Keats

One of several great odes

Five stanzas

Lover eternally pursues a beloved without fulfillment

Villagers about to perform a sacrifice

Edgar Allen Poe

Gothic fiction

A romantic poet

“The Raven”


Nevermore repetition

Gothic style

“Annabelle Lee”
Pg. 618

Obsessed with her

Gets in her tomb and lays down next to her even though she is dead (maybe dreams about it….?)

Theme of the death of a beautiful woman

Poe’s last poem

The narrator fell in love with her at a young age

The narrator describes his love for her

Victorian Period

refers to Queen Victoria’s reign (1830-1901)

buzz word for this time period is: CHANGE

A period of great change

Major technological advances (steam engine)

Darwin’s theory

Scientific discoveries made by Lyle
o Fossils fount, 100’s of billions of years old

o Made many people question their religious beliefs

Victorian poetry was experimental
o Borrowed from other genre’s of poetry

o “spice it up” with drama and fiction

o Dramatic monologue= new sub-drama

Dramatic Monologue
a poem in the form of a speech or narrative by an imagined person, in which the speaker inadvertently reveals aspects of their character while describing a particular situation or series of events.

Usually based off of a historical or well-known literary character

The poet is NOT the speaker

There is a speaker and a listener (NOT a 2 way conversation)
Victorian Period

Alfred Lord Tennyson
* “Ulysses” = Odysseus from “The Odyssey”

British poet

Short lyrics

Classical, mythological themes


Poet Laureate

“The Lady of Shallot”
Victorian ballad
Pastoral setting
Arthurian subject matter
About a lady

“In Memoriam A. H. H.”
Written about his Cambridge friend who passed away suddenly

Robert Browning
* Dramatic verse/ monologues

“Porphyria’s Lover”
Raining and windy
Speaker kills her by choking her with her long hair
Pg. 642-666

“My Last Duchess”
Dramatic monologue
Italian Renaissance setting
Prospective new wife

“Dover Beach” (Matthew Arnold)
Short lyric poems

Thomas Hardy
Romanticism influence

* Hardy
Joy lies slain

Gerard Manley Hopkins
Victorian imagery
Daring innovator

Sprung Rhythm
Designed to imitate the rhythm of natural speech

Unified complex of characteristics that give each thing its uniqueness and make it different from other things

“God’s Grandeur”
Inscape and instress
About the world and God

“Pied Beauty”
Curtal sonnets
Ritual observanc

A.E. Housman

Shropshire Lad
* Housman
63 poems
The need to carpe diem because death can come at any time

“To an Athlete Dying Young”
* Housman
* Portrays an early death at the height of physical glory
Great poem during wartime/ many young men could relate

Philosophical movement that, along with cultural trends and changes, arose from transformations in Western society in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

William Butler Yeats
20th century
Symbolist poet
Used allusive imagery and symbolic structures

“The Second Coming”
* Yeats
Christian imagery
* Regarding the Apocalypse
Modernist poetry

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