fullscreen background
Skip to main content

Spring Quarter

Spring Registration Now Open
Most Classes Begin Apr 01
shopping cart icon0


« Back to Liberal Arts & Sciences

LIT 72 — Thirty Timeless Poems: What They Mean and Why They Matter

Quarter: Spring
Day(s): Tuesdays
Course Format: Live Online (About Formats)
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Apr 2—Jun 4
Time: 7:00—8:50 pm (PT)
Refund Deadline: Apr 4
Units: 2
Grade Restriction: No letter grade
Tuition: $550
Instructor(s): Nicholas Jenkins
Class Recording Available: Yes
Status: Open
ACCESS THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Live Online(About Formats)
7:00—8:50 pm (PT)
Apr 2—Jun 4
10 weeks
Refund Date
Apr 4
2 Units
Grade Restriction
No letter grade
Nicholas Jenkins
ACCESS THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Poetry is peace, turmoil, joy, fear, big things and small things, beauty, sadness, vision, and sanity. We’ll study and discuss 30 exemplary poems; these chosen lyrics will be your entry to a virtually limitless world of great reading. Some of these poems are ancient, some contemporary—each is a favorite of the instructor. Understanding and appreciating this compact and portable art isn't about making your way through huge numbers of pages or knowing the philosophical or historical context within which a poem was written. It's about being willing to be thunderstruck. This course will take "apogee poems" from different periods, and we'll talk about what, including formal beauties, makes them great and profound. Some of the poets whose works we’ll read are Elizabeth Bishop, Shakespeare, Robert Frost, Jorie Graham, Robert Hayden, Sylvia Plath, and John Keats. There will be poems from Britain, Ireland, the Caribbean, and the United States. We’ll also take in poems (in translation) from China, Egypt, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, and Russia. You don’t need prior experience in reading poetry—just bring a love of language, a readiness to be moved, and an openness to sharing your reactions.

Associate Professor of English, Stanford

Nicholas Jenkins is the primary investigator for Kindred Britain, a digital humanities website that traces relationships among nearly 30,000 British people. He has contributed to the London Review of Books, the Times Literary Supplement, The New York Times Book Review, The New Republic, and The New Yorker. He received a DPhil from the University of Oxford.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Czeslaw Milosz (ed.), A Book Of Luminous Things: An International Anthology of Poetry (ISBN 978-0156005746)