Many of the readings for this course are available online through the Poetry Foundation and the Academy of American Poets and are linked from the poem titles.

1 Recognizing patterns Buy at Amazon Pound, Ezra. "In a Station of the Metro." In Personae. New Directions, 1990. ISBN: 9780811211383.
2 Making poetry in English

Buy at Amazon Whitman, Walt. "A March in the Ranks Hard-Pressed." In Walt Whitman: Complete Poetry and Selected Prose. Houghton Mifflin Company, 1959.

Harned, Thomas Biggs, and Walt Whitman. Thomas Biggs Harned Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman: Recovered Cardboard Butterfly and Notebooks, 1847-Circa 1863 to 1864; Notebooks; Circa 1863 to 1864, Washington Hospital Notebook. 1863.

Buy at Amazon Whitman, Walt. The Artilleryman’s Vision." In Leaves of Grass. Digireads, 2016. ISBN: 9781420954180. 

Buy at Amazon Yeats, W.B. "Easter 1916." In The Collected Poems of W.B. Yeats. Digireads, 2018. ISBN: 9781420957587. 

Buy at Amazon Frost, Robert. "The Death of the Hired Man." In North of Boston. CreateSpace, 2014. ISBN: 9781501038761. 

3 From evidence to analysis

Shakespeare, Wililam. "Sonnet 116." Poetry Foundation.  

Buy at Amazon Vendler, Helen. The Art of Shakespeare's Sonnets. Belknap Press, 1999, pp. 113–115. ISBN: 9780674637122. [Preview with Google Books.]

4 Etymologies and rhythms

Buy at Amazon Steele, Timothy. All the Fun's in How You Say a Thing: An Explanation of Meter & Versification. Ohio University Press, 1999. pp. 1–51.  ISBN: 9780821412602.

Buy at Amazon Bishop, Elizabeth "At the Fishhouses." In The Complete Poems, 1927–1979. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1983. ISBN: 978037451872. 

Buy at Amazon Heaney, Seamus. "Digging." In Death of a Naturalist. Faber and Faber, 2006. ISBN: 9780571230839. 

Moore, Marianne. "The Fish." 


Guest Lecture: Shigeru Miyagawa, Senior Associate Dean of MIT Open Learning


Language as system(s)

Dizikes, Peter. "From Contemporary Syntax to Human Language's Deep Origins." MIT News Office. June 11, 2014.

Dizikes, Peter. "The Writing on the Wall." MIT News Office. February 21, 2018.

Sun, Jessica. "Where Did Language Come From?" Feb. 4, 2018. YouTube.

Miyagawa, Shigeru, Robert Berwick, and Kazou Okanoya. "Emergence of Structure." Frontiers Research Foundation, 2013.

6 The shape of sentences and the shape of information

Milton, John. "When I consider how my light is spent (Sonnet 19)." John Milton Reading Room.

Buy at Amazon Dunbar, Paul. "The Debt." In The Complete Poems of Paul Laurence Dunbar. CreateSpace, 2017. ISBN: 9781475157574. 

Buy at Amazon Frost, Robert. "Acquainted with the Night." In The Poetry of Robert Frost. Henry Holt and Co, 1979. ISBN: 9780805005028. 

Buy at Amazon Gay, Ross. "Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude." In Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude. University of Pittsburgh Press, 2015. ISBN: 9780822963318. 

Kirsch, Adam. "Professional Middle-Class Couple, 1927." Poetry. April, 2003.

7 Reading line breaks

Wordsworth, William. "A Slumber did my Spirit Seal." Poetry Foundation.

Buy at Amazon Brooks, Gwendolyn. "We Real Cool." In The Bean Eaters. Literary Licensing, 2012. ISBN: 9781259274481.

Buy at Amazon Williams, William Carlos. "The Red Wheelbarrow." In The Collected Poems of William Carlos Williams: Volume I, 1909–1939. New Directions Publishing Corporation, 1991. ISBN: 9780811211871. 

Williams, William Carlos. "Poem ("As the Cat")." Poetry. July, 1930.

Schussler, Jennifer. "The Forgotten Man Behind William Carlos William's 'Red Wheelbarrow'." New York Times. July 6, 2015.

Buy at Amazon Eliot, T.S. "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock." In Collected Poems 1909–1962. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1991. ISBN: 9780151189786. 

Buy at Amazon Eliot, T.S. "Reflections on Vers Libre." In Selected Prose of T.S. Eliot. Edited by Frank Kermose. Harvest Books, 1975. ISBN: 9780156806541. 

8 Fixed forms, rhymed and otherwise

Shakespeare, William. "Sonnet 18", "Sonnet 60", "Sonnet 65." Poetry Foundation.

Spenser, Edmund. "Amoretti LXXV", "Amoretti LXXXI." Poetry Foundation.

Sidney, Philip. "Astrophil and Stella 1", "Astrophil and Stella 31." Poetry Foundation.

Buy at Amazon Larkin, Philip. "Sad Steps." In Collected Poems. Farrar, Straus and Grioux, 2004. ISBN: 9780374529208. 

Buy at Amazon Brooks, Gwendolyn. "my dreams, my works, must wait till after hell." In Selected Poems. Harper & Row, 1963. ISBN: 9780060909895. 

Buy at Amazon Brooks, Gwendolyn. "the rites for Cousin Vit." In The Norton Anthology of Poetry Fifth Edition. W.W. Norton and Company, 2005. ISBN: 9780393979206.

Buy at Amazon Johnson, James. "Lift Every Voice and Sing." In Complete Poems. Penguin Classics, 2000. ISBN: 9780141185453.

Buy at Amazon Bishop, Elizabeth. "One Art." In The Complete Poems 1926–1979. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1983. ISBN: 9780374518172.

Collins, Martha. "The Story We Know." Poetry. December, 1980.

Buy at Amazon Hayes, Terence. "The Golden Shovel." In Lighthead. Penguin Books, 2010. ISBN: 9780143116967.


Guest Lecture: Nick Montfort, Poet and MIT Professor

New work in computer-generated poetry

Buy at Amazon Montfort, Nick. Truelist. Counterpath, 2017. ISBN: 9781933996639.

10 Sound patterns and sense

Shakespeare, William. "Sonnet 12." Poetry Foundation.

Herbert, George. "The Collar." Poetry Foundation.

Buy at Amazon Stevens, Wallace. "Poetry is a Destructive Force." In The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens. Vintage, 2005. ISBN: 9781101911686.

Marvell, Andrew. "The Mower to the Glow-worms." Poetry Foundation.

Buy at Amazon Plath, Sylvia. "Daddy" and "Morning Song." In Collected Poems. Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2018. ISBN: 9780061558894.

11 Reading a difficult poem (1) Buy at Amazon Eliot, T.S. The Waste Land. W.W. Norton & Company, 2000. ISBN: 9780393974997.
12 Reading a difficult poem (2)

Buy at Amazon Eliot, T.S. The Waste Land. W.W. Norton & Company, 2000. ISBN: 9780393974997.

13 How do metaphors work?

Buy at Amazon Frost, Robert. "Birches." In The Poetry of Rober Frost. Henry Holt and Co., 1979. ISBN: 9780805005028. 

Buy at Amazon Hughes, Langston. "Harlem." In Selected Poems of Langston Hughes. Vintage Classics, 1990. ISBN: 9780679728184.

Buy at Amazon Pardlo, Gregory. "Double Dutch." In Totem. The American Poetry Review, 2007. ISBN: 9780977639533.

Cohen, Andrea. "Lit." The New Yorker. February 16, 2015.

Buy at Amazon Dunbar, Paul "We Wear the Mask." In The Complete Poems of Paul Laurence Dunbar. CreateSpace, 2017. ISBN: 9781475157574. 

Buy at Amazon Jess, Tyehimba. "Booker-Washington Double Shovel." In Olio. Wave Books, 2016. ISBN: 9781940696201. 

14 Guest Lecture: Tyehimba Jess, Poet

Buy at Amazon Jess, Tyehimba. Olio. Wave Books, 2016. pp. 12–29. ISBN: 9781940696201.

Buy at Amazon DuBois, W.E.B. "Of Spiritual Strivings of the Negro People." Chapter 1, of Souls of Black Folk. CreateSpace, 2017. ISBN: 9781505223378.

15 How does allusion work? (History)

Buy at Amazon Lowell, Robert. "For the Union Dead." In Collected Poems. Edited by Frank Bidart and David Gewanter. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007. ISBN: 9780374530327.

Buy at Amazon Trethewey, Natasha. "Incident." In Native Guard. Mariner Books, 2007. ISBN: 9780618892657. 

Buy at Amazon Pardlo, Gregory. "For Which It Stands." In Digest. Four Way Books, 2014. ISBN: 9781935536505.

16 Guest Lecture: Charles Shadle, MIT Lecturer Shadle, Charles. "Six Dickinson Songs (PDF - 2.3MB)." Courtesy of Charles Shadle. Used with permission.
17 Guest Lecture: Kimberly Brown, MIT Visiting Professor Buy at Amazon Clifton, Lucille. The Book of Light. Copper Canyon Press, 1992. pp. 11–13, 44–47. ISBN: 9781556590528.

Guest Lecture: Martha Collins, Poet

Translating Poetry

Buy at Amazon Collins, Martha and Kevin Prufer, eds. Into English: Poems, Translations, Commentaries. Graywolf Press, 2017. pp 71–75, 163–167. ISBN: 9781555977924.

19–22 Student Presentations Student-initiated readings
23 Early English Ballads Shakespeare and DonneEarly English Ballads Presentation (PDF)