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LIT 4930.001
Appreciating Poetry

Fall 2004
Time: Monday and Wednesday
11:00am - 12:15 pm
Room: CPR 348

Class 10

Reading Assignment:

      "Sleep and Poetry" p. 82
      "On Seeing the Elgin Marbles " p. 99


        "Sleep and Poetry" p. 82

        Class Objectives:

      • Introduce Keats as a poet

      • Consider how Keats treats the question "What is poetry?"

        The poems we will be reading this week all derives from Keats very early period, and they address in some way the question of what poetry is. We can imagine that this was a creative and philosophical question that concerned the young poet. Take the opportunity to apply the principles learned from Perrine and Oliver to your reading of Keats' work, but also see these poems as the beginning work of a developing poet. All of the poems for this class were written before what most critics see as Keats' significant accomplishment in poetry. In our class we will be following the development of this artist and paying particular attention to his practice of poetic craft.

        Keats' Early Poems

        Second class

        Familiarize yourself with Keats' biography in some way. The more ambitious among you will want to read a full-length biography, the classic one being John Keats, by Walter Jackson Bate. There is ample material available on the web and The Romantic Chronology Page may be a good place to start for historical context.

        For each of Keats' poems, analyze the use of sound. Make observations on the form (is it a sonnet? what line length? what rhyme scheme?). For at least one poem, scan the entire poem, marking meter, caesura, enjambment, etc.

        Also for each poem, make sure you read the notes that are printed in the back of the book. These will provide valuable information about biographical and literary details.

        Suggestions for reading poetry: read all the way through one time to get a sense of what the poem is about. Read the second time scanning the notes for information and trying to understand the complexity of the piece. Read a third time out loud to hear the rhythms and rhymes, etc. Read as many more times as you like or need to. POETRY NEEDS TO BE READ MORE THAN ONE TIME.


        "Sleep and Poetry" p. 82

        What is the significance of the title of this poem ? How is sleep described here? What is the relationship between sleep and poetry?

        What happens to the discussion of sleep at the end of the poem?

        "In the far more important "Sleep and Poetry," this bold experimenter who was to try so many styles successfully, began once more to go over the same ground as in the three verse letters. In a sense he was to retread that ground until the end. But beca use the concern was primary and universal, the return to it proved increasingly valuable. That concern was nothing less than the use of poetry itself -- and it was a concern that could easily paralyze endeavor and confidence. It was precisely this large , high-minded absorption in the past monuments of literature that was to inhibit Matthew Arnold and so many that followed Arnold. Yet Keats's poetic treatment offers no greater interest than in the remarkable success with which he by-passes these inhibit ions by constantly reverting to basic premises and generous ideals" (Bate, p. 124).

        Consider Bates' statement. Where can you find Keats reverting to basic premises and generous ideals? In what way? What premises? What ideals?

        Read closely lines 230-269: Discuss what Keats is doing in these lines. What does he envision poetry to be? What are the two main functions of poetry described?

        What does it mean for poetry to be a power? What does it mean for poetry to be a friend to man? How is this related to Keats' literary friendships?

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