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10. Diction 1: The Scale of Choice
About this Lecture
In this module, we turn to diction, and think about the sheer number of words that are available to poets writing in English—the result of English having major roots in both Germanic and Romantic languages. But are there certain words that poets should avoid using in their poetry? What about obscenity? Or racial epithets?
Philip Larkin, 'This Be The Verse', ll. 1-4, from High Windows (London: Faber & Faber, 1974)
Derek Walcott, 'The Schooner Flight', i. Adios Carenage, ll. 40-3, from The Star-Apple Kingdom (London: Jonathan Cape, 1980)
In this course, Professor John Lennard talks through the craft of poetry in a course that draws on his international bestseller, The Poetry Handbook, which has been a favourite with both sixth-form students and undergraduates since its first publication in 1996. As we move through the course, we look at every technical aspect of poetry, including metre, form, layout, lineation, rhyme, diction, syntax, before thinking about how much readers of poetry should draw on historical and biographical context when analysing and interpreting poetry.
Throughout the course, technical discussion of poetry is richly illustrated with examples from some of the greatest poets in the English language, including: William Shakespeare, George Herbert, John Donne, Andrew Marvell, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Robert Browning, Wilfred Owen, W. B. Yeats, Philip Larkin, Seamus Heaney, Geoffrey Hill, and Derek Walcott.
Born in Bristol, and educated at Oxford and St Louis, Dr John Lennard has taught English, American, and Commonwealth Literature in Cambridge, London, and Jamaica over more than twenty years. He has written two widely used textbooks (on poetry and drama) and monographs on Shakespeare, Paul Scott, Nabokov, and Faulkner, as well as two collections of essays on contemporary genre writers in crime, science fiction and fantasy, and romance. Enthusiastic, discursive, widely knowledgeable, and a demon for punctuation (on which he has also published extensively), he has been a popular Summer School Course Leader and lecturer for the Institute of Continuing Education since 1992.
Cite this Lecture
Lennard, J. (2018, August 15). Poetry: How to Read and Analyse Poetry - Diction 1: The Scale of Choice [Video]. MASSOLIT. https://massolit.io/courses/poetry-how-to-read-and-analyse-poetry/diction-1-the-scale-of-choice
Lennard, John. "Poetry: How to Read and Analyse Poetry – Diction 1: The Scale of Choice." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018, https://massolit.io/courses/poetry-how-to-read-and-analyse-poetry/diction-1-the-scale-of-choice