Elizabethan Love Poetry

Ref: C3126848

If you love reading traditional poetry and enjoy the verbal fireworks of the Elizabethans then this course is for you. If you've read a few of the familiar anthology pieces from the period prepare to be surprised by the imagination and linguistic bravura of the poets who ranged far and wide for inspiration. The course will include the delights of Sir Thomas Wyatt, Edmund Spencer, Mary Herbert, Shakespeare, Marlowe and John Donne as well as some 'minor' writers. A good sense of the musical qualities of the poetry, many of these works were written with musical accompaniment in mind, would be helpful, as would a general sense of the politics and religious struggles of the period 1540-1620.

Course aim

This course is for those who enjoy reading Elizabethan poetry and its many innovations and delights. It will begin with Sir Thomas Wyatt and end with John Donne but include the sonneteers, Spencer, Shakespeare and Mary Herbert.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • A genuine interest in reading poetry and willingness to tackle one of the 'golden ages' of English poetry would be required to get the most out of this course. The language is at times complex and ambiguous but also full of wit and written with a sense of an appreciative audience.

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • name at least half a dozen Elizabethan poets
  • describe with confidence the main forms of Elizabethan poetry
  • explain in some detail the complexities of Elizabethan poetic technique
  • encourage others to read more widely

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning
  • You may be asked to undertake additional work in your own time to support your learning

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion
  • You will have opportunities to discuss your progress with your tutor

What else do I need to know?

  • The tutor will provide reading materials for the classes but you may be asked to do some research into allied topics of interest.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • Reading some Elizabethan poetry before the course would be sensible to get a sense of the rhythms of the language and its characteristic imagery. You could re-read Shakespeare's sonnets, for example.

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Progress to a course with another provider
  • Become involved with the WEA in a range of voluntary work and other activities including campaigning as a WEA member
  • This course won't help you get a job but it will enrich you culturally and open doors into other lands and mindsets.

Download full course information sheet

Elizabethan Love Poetry


As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you book. Please could we ask that you check the list below to ensure you meet our basic criteria:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2018
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

Not sure or have further questions? Contact courseenquiries@wea.org.uk

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