This course introduces you to the great variety of poems written and composed in English from the very beginning of the English language until recently. We will be particularly interested in answering two related questions: what is a poem? and what makes a poem good? Since many poems seem, at first glance, to be mysterious or at least difficult to decode, our goal will be first to learn the elements used in putting a poem together – meter, rhyme scheme, figurative language – and then to explore possible meanings. By the end of the course you should be able to explain confidently how a poet has written a poem and make some educated guesses as to why. Although this is not a poetry workshop, we will be trying out some the different techniques ourselves -- writing in meter or stanzas -- as a way of learning them.