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Emery C. Mollenhauer,FSC 
Fall 1999
Olney 167 95l - ll69



Course Objectives:

In this course, we will survey a representative sampling of well-recognized poetry of the United States and of the British Isles since World War II. Our objectives will be to develop a better appreciation of a variety of contemporary poetry; to recognize individual styles and recurring themes; to appreciate movements or trends in twentieth century poetry; and to improve our skills in reading, analyzing, and writing about lyric poetry.


In general, we will follow a discussion format, so it will be imperative that you come to class prepared and participate in class discussion. At times, it will be necessary for me to provide background information.


(Don't think that you are in trouble if you have difficulty with some of the poems we will discuss. Initially, some of them will seem obscure; I plan to give leads about approaching the more difficulty poems.)




A. Poulin, Jr. Contemporary American Poetry. Boston:Houghton Mifflin, l996.

 Bay Bridge: San Francisco - Oakland

I have placed two supplementary texts on reserve in the Connelly Library; both of these are useful references for our course: The Oxford Companion to Twentieth Century Poetry, edited by Ian Hamilton, a helpful reference for terms (e.g., "the Movement," the "New Criticism") and for background information on British and Irish poets we will be reading in the final weeks; and Neil Corcoran's English Poetry since 1940.

We will have handouts for British and Irish poetry and, occasionally, for some American poems.



-- Careful and attentive reading of assigned poems.

-- A midterm and a final exam.

Assignments which will be explained next week:

_ Brief analyses (2 pages) of designated poems.

_ A parenthetical documentation paper (7 - 8 pages, due December 6).

_Short presentations (15 - 20 minutes) in groups of two.



Exams: 40 (15 and 25)

Analyses: 2 Form

Presentations 10 Library of Congress, DC

Participation: 15

Parenthetical Documentation paper: 15



Office Hours:

I have ample times for conferences listed on the door of Olney 167. Ordinarily, I am in 0 167 much of the day (unless in class or at a meeting); I can be available also some evenings.


Academic Integrity:

The source(s) of any work for this course which is not your own must be clearly and accurately acknowledged. A student who violates academic integrity is subject to receiving an "F" grade.


Central ParkThomas Eakins: The Championship Sculler, , 1871, The Met, NYCSchuylkill Rower


Cutting classes affects continuity and precludes a real grasp of subject matter. Moreover, since this class depends on discussion, it is imperative that you attend regularly; cutting class affects your grade.




I plan to "cover" post WWII American poetry in the first ten weeks and poetry of the British Isles in the last four weeks..


Hundreds of first-rate poems have been written in the last fifty years, and it is likely that we will not be able to discuss all of the poems listed in this syllabus, which will serve as a guideline. Because the amount of class time we will spend on individual poems will vary, it is almost inevitable that we will not follow the precise chronology which follows. Since I review forthcoming assignments at the beginning of each class, I trust that no one will be confused or upset because of time adjustments related to readings or to other assignments.


Poets of significant influence in the century before 1950: Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Gerard M. Hopkins, William B. Yeats, Thomas S. Eliot, Robert Frost, H. Auden, Wallace Stevens.

Note also that (a) our Poulin text provides a helpful introduction to contemporary American poetry (pp. 745 - 763) and to the poets themselves (pp 667 -735); and (b) while the poems listed below are those we focus on, you will want to read other poems of each poet, as well as to keep up with background material assigned.



Week of August 30:


Preliminaries: Review of rhythm and meter basics; terms related to contemporary poetry; forerunners of more recent writers


Elizabeth Bishop, pp. 43 ff., "The Fish," "In the Waiting Room," "The Armadillo,"


Week of September 7: Elizabeth Bishop

E.B.: "One" Art"


Review assignments for the semester.


 Theodore RoethkeRobert HaydenRandall Jarrell


Theodore Roethke, pp. 491 ff., "The Premonition," "Cuttings," "Weed Puller," "The Waking," "In a Dark


Time" Robert Hayden, pp. 215 ff., "Frederick Douglass"



Week of September 13:

Hayden: "Monet's Waterlilies" John Berryman, pp. 33 ff., Dreams Songs l ("Huffy Henry..") and 14 ("Life, friends...")

Randall Jarrell, pp. 256 ff., "90 North," "The Snow Leopard," "Eighth Air Force," "The Woman at the Washington Zoo"


William Stafford, pp. 562 ff., "At the Bomb Testing Site" and "Traveling Through the Dark"

  William Stafford

 Gwendolyn BrooksRichard Wilbur

Week of September 20:

Gwendolyn Brooks, pp. 62 ff., "We Real Cool," and (from)"A Street in Brownsville"


Robert Lowell, pp. 380 ff., "Skunk Hour," " Memories of West Street and Lepke," "Colloquy in Black Rock"


Richard Wilbur, pp. 603 ff., "Advice to a Prophet," "Love Calls Us to the Things of This World," "Death of a Toad" (handout)



Week of September 27:

Wilbur:: "On the Eyes of an SS Officer," "Praise in Summer"

Robert Bly, pp. 52 ff., "Waking from Sleep," "Looking into a Face," "For My Son, Noah, Ten Years Old"


James Dickey, pp. 94 ff., "The Heaven of Animals," "The Sheep Child"

 Robert Bly

 James DickeyDenise Levertov

Week of October 4:

Denise Levertov, pp. 348 ff., "Hypocrite Women," "The Jacob's Ladder"


Donald Justice, 267ff: "Counting the Mad," "The Missing Person"


James Merrill, pp. 400 ff., "Charles on Fire," "Angels," "The Broken Home" (handout), "The Emerald"


 James MerrillFrank O'HaraA.R.Ammons


Week of October 11:

Frank O'Hara, 432 ff" "The Day Lady Died" A.R. Ammons, pp. 3 ff., "Corson's Inlet" (handout),


"The City Limits" Robert Creeley, pp. 85 ff., "The Business," "The Flower," "I Know a Man"


Allen Ginsberg, pp. 156 ff., section I of "Howl"


4   Robert Creeley

Allen GinsbergJohn Ashbery

Week of October 18:

In-class exam


Explanation of final paper


John Ashbery, pp. 13 ff., "Paradoxes and Oxymorons," possibly, "Our Youth"


W. S. Merwin, pp. 4ll ff., "The Drunk in the Furnace," "For the Anniversary of My Death"


James Wright, pp. 635 ff., "Autumn Begins1/4 .," "Saint Judas," "Lying in a Hammock....,"


 W.S. MerwinJames WrightAdrienne Rich

Week of October 27:

JW: "Beautiful Ohio,"," "The Journey" Anne Sexton, "The Abortion," p. 503


Adrienne Rich, 477 f., "Diving into the Wreck," Gary Snyder, pp. 543 ff., "Riprap"


Sylvia Plath, pp. 465 ff., "Daddy" (maybe), "Lady Lazarus,"


Determination of British and Irish poems to be discussed later in the semester.


 Sylvia PlathMarge PiercyMark Strand

Week of November 1:

SP: "The Colossus"


Marge Piercy, 455 ff., "A Work of Artifice," "Barbie Doll"


Mark Strand, pp. 583, ff., "Old People on the Nursing Home Porch," "Keeping Things Whole"


Robert Hass, pp. 205 ff., "Bookbuying in the Ternderloin," "Meditation at Lagunitas"


Louise Gluck, pp. 173 ff., "Cottonmouth Country,"


 Robert HassLouise GluckRita Dove

Week of November 8:

LG:: "Messengers," "The Drowned Children," "The Mirror," "Mock Orange"


Rita Dove, pp. 106 ff., "Daystar," "Dusting" (handout)

  Brooklyn Bridge from Manhattan


Week of November 15 through Week of December 6:


Introduction to contemporary British and Irish poetry (For background, see Corcoran book noted on p. 1 of this syllabus and placed on reserve in the Connelly Library.)


Seamus HeaneyTed HughesThomas Gunn

We will definitely "cover" poems by Philip Larkin, Seamus Heaney, Ted Hughes, Thomas Gunn; if time permits, we will also review poems by Donald Davie, Paul Muldoon, Geffrey Hill and Charles Tomlinson.



 Golden Gate Bridge and American Flag



Assignments for English 313