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EN2C3/EN3C3 Modern American Poetry

Syllabus 2020-21 (subject to minor revisions)



Dr. Christina Britzolakis (convenor)

Seminars: t.b.a.

This module is about modern poetry’s capacity to cross boundaries and borders, and to engage at once with both local and global worlds. It explores how the project of poetically ‘making it new’, especially, but not exclusively, between 1900 and 1930 captures the lived experiences and challenges of a shared global and transnational modernity.

We will trace the circuits of travel, dialogue and exchange, both real and imagined, amongst a range of U.S., British and European poets. In our study of these texts, we will be attentive to the impact of imperialism; war; labour; feminism; racial oppression; changes in intellectual thought; science and technology; the rise of the mass media, and popular culture .


Wk 1: Presentation of module


Wk 2: Transatlantic poetic modernity: Contexts and Debates.

Eliot, ‘Preludes’; Stevens, ‘Anecdote of the Jar’; Williams, ‘The Great Figure’; Loy, ‘O Hell’; Hughes, ‘Mother to Son’; Cavafy, ‘On the Ship’.


Wk 3: Walt Whitman, from Song of Myself (Dover, 2003), 1-6

Emily Dickinson, in McNeil, Helen (ed) Emily Dickinson (Everyman, 1997): Poems 258, 271, 280, 288, 435, 465, 501, 613, 670, 1129.

Charles Baudelaire, from ‘Parisian Scenes’ in The Flowers of Evil (OUP World’s Classics, 2008): ‘To a Red-haired Beggar Girl’, ‘The Seven Old Men’; ‘’To a Woman Passing by’.


Wk 4: W.B. Yeats, from Selected Poems (Penguin, 2000): ‘The Song of Wandering Aengus’; ‘A Coat’; ‘Easter 1916’; ‘The Second Coming’; ‘Sailing to Byzantium’; ‘Among School Children’.

Hart Crane, from Complete Poems (Liveright, 2001): ‘Black Tambourine’; ‘At Melville’s Tomb’; ‘To Brooklyn Bridge’; ‘Cape Hatteras’; ‘To Emily Dickinson’; ‘O Carib Isle’; ‘Bacardi Spreads the Eagle’s Wings’; ‘The Idiot’; ‘Key West’.


Wk 5: Ezra Pound, from Selected Poems (Faber, 1948, 2004). ‘Cino’; ‘Portrait d’une Femme’; ‘The Garret’; ‘The Garden’; ‘A Pact’; ‘Dance Figure’; ‘April’; ‘Gentildonna’; ‘The Rest’; ‘Les Millwin’; ‘Ite’; ‘The Bath Tub’; ‘Liu Che’; ‘Arides’; ‘Coda; ‘In a Station of the Metro’; ‘The Encounter’, ‘The Tea Shop’, ‘The River Merchant’s Wife: a Letter; ‘Hugh Selwyn Mauberley’ I-II.

T.S. Eliot, from Selected Poems (Faber, 2002): ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’; ‘Preludes’; ‘Gerontion’; The Waste Land.



Wk 6: Reading Week



Wk 7: Mina Loy, from The Last Lunar Baedeker (Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 1997): ‘Virgins plus Curtains Minus Dots’; ‘The Effectual Marriage’; ‘Brancusi’s Golden Bird’; ‘Songs to Joannes’, I-III; ‘O Hell’; ‘The Widow’s Jazz’; ‘Chiffon Velours’.

Marianne Moore, from Observations: Poems (Farrar Strauss, 2016): ‘To a Steam Roller’; ‘To a Snail’; ‘Poetry’; ‘The Fish’; ‘A Grave’; ‘New York’; ‘No Swan so Fine’; ‘The Paper Nautilus’.


Wk 8: Wallace Stevens, from Harmonium (Faber, 2001): ‘Earthy Anecdote’, ‘Domination of Black’, ‘The Snow Man’, ‘The Emperor of Ice Cream’; ‘Sunday Morning’; ‘Anecdote of the Jar’; ‘Thirteen ways of Looking at a Blackbird’; ‘Nomad Exquisite’; ‘The Bird with the Coppery, Keen Claws’.

Langston Hughes, Selected Poems of Langston Hughes (Serpent’s Tail, 1999): ‘Boogie: I am’; ‘Dream Boogie’; ‘Brass Spittoons’; ‘Daybreak in Alabama’; ‘The Weary Blues’; ‘Mother to Son’; ‘Po’ Boy Blues’; ‘I, Too’; ‘The Negro Speaks of Rivers’;’Lincoln Theatre’; ‘Let America be America Again’.



Wk 9: William Carlos Williams, from Spring and All (Martino Fine Books, 2015): I ‘By the road to the contagious hospital’; VI ‘Of death’; XIV Our orchestra’; VVIII ‘The pure products of America’; XXII ‘So much depends upon’; XXV ‘Somebody dies every four minutes’; XXVI ‘The crowd at the ball game’; XXVII ‘Black-eyed susan’.

Federico García Lorca, from Poet in New York (Penguin Modern Classics, 2002): ‘Dawn’, ‘The King of Harlem’ I; ‘Dance of Death’; ‘Cry to Rome’; ‘Christmas on the Hudson’; ‘Ode to Walt Whitman’.


Wk 10: C.P. Cavafy, from Complete Poems of Cavafy, trans. Rae Dalven (Harcourt, 1989): ‘Expecting the Barbarians’; ‘The City’; ‘The God Forsakes Anthony’; ‘Ithaca’; ‘Alexandrian Kings’; ‘In the Month of Athyr’; ‘Caesarion’; ‘To Remain’; ‘In an Old Book’; ‘He Asked about the Quality’.

W.H. Auden, from Selected Poems (Faber, 2010):’Who stands’; ‘Control of the passes was, he saw, the key’; ‘O what is that sound which so thrills the ear’ ‘Look, stranger’; ‘Spain’; ‘As I walked out one evening’; ‘Musée des Beaux Arts’; ‘In Memory of W.B. Yeats; ‘Refugee Blues’; ‘I September, 1939’.