Poetry’s power of language helps us reckon with the human condition in all aspects of our lives – from birth to death, from sorrow to joy, from despair to hope. In this discussion course we will examine this power of poetry through a close reading of works by three famous British poets and a sampling of their work: 

John Milton’sLycidas” is “the most poignant and controlled statement in English poetry of the acceptance of that in the human condition which seems to man unacceptable. . .” This poem is “an attempt to relate understandably to human life the immutable fact of death — the pain of loss, the tragedy of early death.” (Rosmond Tuve)

William Blake’sThe Songs of Innocence and of Experience” andThe Marriage of Heaven and Hell” highlight the work of a man, who, in real life “must have been a pain in the ass. Even today his work can seem apocalyptic, angry, difficult and dogged.  Born in 1757 into a world that was not ready for him — that may not be ready still — Blake was probably the first hippie.” (Jerry Saltz)

William Wordsworth’s “Tintern Abbey” andOde: Intimations of Immortality” demonstrate Wordsworth’s concern with the human relationship to nature, especially nature recollected in tranquility that has the power to restore faith and hope: “Thanks to the human heart by which we live, / Thanks to its tenderness, its joys, its fears, / To me the meanest flower that blows can have / Thoughts that often lie too deep for tears.”

Feedback from John’s past courses:

“Interesting, astute, great reading and enlightening discussion.”

“John Miller and Karen Kaludis provided a superb learning experience with their “My Dearest Friend” course on the letters of John and Abigail. History, yes, but more importantly, Values…about marriage, partnership, family, nation. Superb.”

“The facilitators were well prepared and enthusiastic which created an inclusive, comfortable environment for participation. Wonderful discussion.”

“Great class. Great leaders. Great book. Great sharing!”

“Wonderfully presented; interesting, informative and entertaining. I learned a lot and came away with a greater understanding of and appreciation for the play. Both instructors were very knowledgeable.”

“The instructors of this course are not only knowledgeable and passionate about their subject, they are giddily happy by it! Infectious!”

HYBRID COURSE: Choose in-person at the Easton Peachblossom YMCA, Zoom, or Recording                                                                        

3 Sessions |Thursdays | Jan 27, Feb 3, 10 | 10–11:30 am | $30 



John Miller, Ph.D.

John H. Miller has taught literature courses at both secondary and college levels, including American Literature at the University of Clermont-Ferrand, France, under a Fulbright Fellowship. He has also taught at the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University, Washington College, American University, and the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum’s Academy for Lifelong Learning. Given his interest in things maritime, he taught a course on literature of the sea as Visiting Lecturer and member of the University of Virginia’s faculty on two separate round the world voyages with UVA’s “Semester at Sea” program. John is also involved in several local non-profit organizations, currently serving as President of Allegro Academy, and board member of Chesapeake Forum. John earned his Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh, with a BA from Yale.

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