The panel performs a thorough close readings of two well-anthologised poems by E. E. Cummings–‘i sing of Olaf glad and big’ and ‘the Cambridge ladies who live in furnished souls’–examining how their structure and formal aspects reflect their content.
In celebration of King Charles III, the panel reads two poems written to celebrate the reigns of his predecessors, King Charles I and King Charles II, including a New Year’s Gift by Thomas Carew and a coronation panegyric by John Dryden, respectively.
The panel reads poetry celebrating the life and reign of Queen Elizabeth II, including Philip Larkin and Ted Hughes for the Silver Jubilee, Hughes for the 40th anniversary, Simon Armitage for the Platinum Jubilee, and his newly-written Floral Tribute.
The panel reads three stirring poems by the American diplomat, activist, author, poet, and professor James Weldon Johnson, examining the theological symbolism and social commentary in “The Creation”, “Listen, Lord”, and “Lift Every Voice and Sing”.
The panel reads the first book of William Wordsworth’s “The Prelude”, discussing the intention of the overall work, with special attention to the presentation of childhood freedom, the intellectual work of writing poetry, and existential dread.
The panel attempts to read Canto LXXIV from The Cantos of Ezra Pound, but finds even this one poem too dense to complete in a single episode, with its use of a vast array of literary and personal references fused into a challenging composite work.
The panel concludes the series on Idylls of the King with a full reading of “The Passing of Arthur” and the epilogue “To the Queen”, considering Gawain’s warning, the last battle, Bedivere’s treachery, and Arthur’s departure with the three queens.
The panel reads the penultimate idyll, “Guinevere”, last of the original 1859 collection, and focuses on the redemptive arc of the queen, passing from recognition of her sin and fear of shame into pursuit of the pure and the good for its own sake.
The panel reads the second part of the story of Sir Pelleas, “The Last Tournament”, with its contrast between white innocence and red blood, its manifold inversions of the Arthurian court, and its connexion to the real-life Eglinton Tournament of 1839.
The panel reads “Pelleas and Ettare” and questions whether Arthur overprotects Sir Pelleas, considering the implications for the court, whilst also examining Tennyson’s psychologising of Ettare, and the potential dangers of a too-idealistic worldview.
The panel discusses the dispersal of the Round Table in “The Holy Grail”, the conflict between the Common Good of the realm and the individual knights’ quests for the Absolute Good, and the experiences of Gawain, Bors, Lancelot, Perceval, and Galahad.
Moving into the second half of the Idylls, the panel reads “Lancelot and Elaine”, one of the most beloved poems in the cycle, contrasting Guinevere with Elaine and Lancelot with Gawain, and reading Arthur as a messianic, interpretive mirror of the court.