Nineteenth Cetury Poetry

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Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Discipline CoreSUS1EN2594

Semester and Year Offered: Monsoon 2020

Course Coordinator and Team: Manish Sharma

Email of course coordinator:

Pre-requisites: No pre-requisites

Aim: The Nineteenth century in Europe and America saw upheavals and changes of many kinds that challenged the very concept of man and his relationship with God and nature. With industrial revolution and mechanization and the expansion of the Empire came various concerns that were entirely new. The late Romantics across Europe responded to some of these concerns through their poetry. The nineteenth century in Britain contains within itself the Victorian Age also- an age full of contradictions and conflicts. Though Victorian era has largely come to be known as the age of the novel, the period has produced some eminent names in the field of poetry as well. Breaking away from the romantic age’s abstract imageries, the Victorian poets addressed issues of patriotism, religious faith, science, sexuality and social reform through their down-to-earth verses. Feminist concerns of freedom of choice and position of women in a male-driven society lend women poets voice to express themselves however feeble it might have been. The age also saw the emergence of various movements in art and literature such as the Pre Raphaelite Movement, the Decadence Movement and the Symbolist Movement. All these movements also manifest themselves in the poetry of the age. From deep pessimism to robust optimism, from psychological probing to metaphysical yearning, the poets in this century displayed a wide range of emotions. Many also experimented with form which expanded the scope of poetry. This course will probe all these shifts through a study of some representative nineteenth century poems.

The course aims at introducing students to the shifts in the genre of poetry that took place within the nineteenth century outside Britain. These shifts witnessed the crystallization of politico-economic processes such as colonization, industrialisation, urbanization and the rise of nationalism. With so many changes taking place almost at the same time, the literary output of this century also exhibits great variety not only in style but also in politics and perspective. In other words, the nineteenth century thought and critical views have a reciprocal relationship with the literature produced during this period. Beginning with late-Romantics and ending in the Age of Decadence, this century has a plethora of styles and points of view to offer to the students. This course will familiarize the students with the poetry of the nineteenth century, a century otherwise known as the age of the novel. Based on such assumptions, some of the poems written during the nineteenth century would be discussed in the class so as to understand the intersections between the definitive form, thought and poetry within this century.

Course Outcomes: On successful completion of this course students will be able to:

  1. Analytical knowledge of the poetry, poetics and theoretic of the nineteenth century poets
  2. An understanding of the poetry and poetics of the nineteenth century in a trans-national perspective.
  3. A sensitivity to the global culture and the national ethos, that became so characteristic of this time, owing to colonialism.
  4. An appreciation of the rich differences between movements and nationalities, that are as crucial as the interstices between them


Module 1: An introduction to the Nineteenth Century:

This module will proceed with a discussion on important thought processes originating in the nineteenth centurywhich was marked by the advent of industrial revolution and the expansion of the British Empire together with a loss of faith due to the publication of Darwin’s Origin of Species (1859) as well as Marx’s views on capitalism, Freud’s theory of psychoanalysis, and so on.


Module 2: Nineteenth Century Poetry in Britain:

A continuum with Romantic poetry will be drawn for the students in this module.

  • “Ode to Autumn” and “Ode to Nightingale,” by John Keats
  • “Kubla Khan,”“Dejection: An Ode,” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
  • “Ulysses,” “The Lady of Shallott,”by Alfred Lloyd Tennyson
  • “Dover Beach” by Matthew Arnold
  • “My Last Duchess” by Robert Browning
  • “Selections from Book 5, AuroraLeigh” by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
  • “When I Shall Sleep” by Coventry Patmore
  • “Amor Mundi” “Goblin Market,” by Christina Rossetti
  • “I Wake and Feel the Fell of Dark, Not Day” “Pied Piper,” by G. M. Hopkins


Module 3: Nineteenth Century Poetry in America

  • “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe
  • “Selections from Leaves of Grass”by Walt Whitman
  • “Because I could not Stop for Death” by Emily Dickinson
  • “At Peace” by Amado Nervo


Module 4: Nineteenth Century Poetry in Europe, Asia and Australia


  • “Selections from CollectedPoems” by Arthur Rimbaud
  • “Selections from Collected Poems” by Stephane Mallarme
  • “Selections from Collected Poems,” by Gerard Nerval
  • “Selections from The Flowers of Evil” by Charles Baudelaire


  • Selections from Holderlin
  • Selections from Novalis
  • Selections from Rilke

India and Pakistan

  • “Innocent Heart” by Ghalib
  • “Husn e Haqiqi” By Khwaja Ghulam Farid
  • “Dayar e Ishq,” Iqbal

The afore-mentioned poems are from the following anthologies/ collections:

  • Ferguson, Margaret, Mary Jo Salter and Jon Stallworthy. The Norton Anthology of Poetry. London: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1970. Print.
  • Mallarme, Stephane. Collected Poems. Trans. Henry Weinfield. London: University of California Press, 1994. Print.
  • Niazi, Sarfaraz K. Love Sonnets of Ghalib. New Delhi: Rupa, 2002. Print.
  • Rimbaud, Arthur. Collected Poems. Trans. Oliver Bernard. New York: Viking Press, 1986. Print.
  • Alexander. “The Gypsies” in Selected Works in Two Volumes: Volume I Poetry. Trans. Irina Zheleznova. Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1974. Print.
  • Veraline, Paul. SelectedPoems. Trans. C. F. Macintyre. Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1972. Print.


Assessment Details with weights:

  • End term examination 40
  • Mid term examination 25
  • Viva 15
  • Assignment 10
  • Class participation 10