R104 | Beyond Mountains, More Mountains:  

Reading & Comparing Exceptional Poems (LR)


3:30 pm-5:00 pm


9/24, 10/1, 10/8, 10/15, 10/22, 10/29

Six Sessions

This course is offered online via the free, easy-to-use Zoom program.

World poetry, from ancient to modern times, is the most complete, succinct, and elegant record available to us of human wisdom, experience and ethics. “Poetry is philosophy’s sister—the one that wears makeup.” This seminar introduces people to and expands their contact with a wide range of poetry and features lively, facilitated discussions of exceptional poems. We will compare poems with similar themes and contrasting structures. Articulating preferences helps participants form strong attachments to particular poems and poets and discover their own values and aesthetics.


Suggested Reading:

The following sets of poems are examples of those we will be comparing and contrasting--  All poems may be found at www.ronnowpoetry.com:

Hold Nothing Back

Anonymous, “The Words of the All-Wise” [from The Elder Edda; c. 900-1000; Icelandic; trans. W.H. Auden & Paul Taylor]

Fred Chappell, “Scarecrow Colloquy”

Jean de la Fontaine, “Phoebus and Boreas” [trans. Marianne Moore]

Galway Kinnell, “Conversation”

David Ray, “A Journey with Basho”

Theocritus, “Idyll I” [trans. William Carlos Williams]


Fleur Adcock, “For a Five-Year-Old”

Rhina P. Espaillat, “Circling the Jellyfish”

Anthony Hecht, "It Out-Herods Herod, Pray You Avoid It"

Sharon Olds, “The One Girl at the Boys Party”

Richard Wilbur, “The Writer”

The Garden of Eden

Fergus Allen, “The Fall”

Robert Frost, “Never Again Would Birds' Song Be the Same”

A.D. Hope, “Imperial Adam”

Donald Justice, “The Wall”

Louis MacNeice, “Apple Blossom”

Gary Snyder. “Milton by Firelight”

Kingly and Grand

Jorge Luis Borges, “Nightmare” [trans. Willis Barnstone]

Llywarch Hen, “The Head of Urien” [a modern version of a Medieval poem by 'Wesli Court' aka Lewis Turco]

Itaikkunrurkilar, “His Legs Strong and Lithe” [from the Classical Tamil Anthologies; trans. George L. Hart III]

Al-Khansa, “On Her Brother Sakhr” [trans. Willis Barnstone]

Okkur Macatti, “What Her Girlfriend Said to Her” [trans. A.K. Ramanujan]

Colman mac Lenini, “In Praise of a Sword Given Him by His Prince” [trans. Richard O’Connell]

Robert Ronnow holds a B.A. in English and Comparative Literature from Columbia University. He is the Executive Director of the Sheffield Land Trust and a Pittsfield Public Schools academic tutor. His published works include, Communicating the Bird (Broken Publications, 2012) and New & Selected Poems: 1975-2005 (Barnwood Press, 2007).  Additional information is available at www.ronnowpoetry.com


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