Famous Anglo-American poet W.H. Auden once taught in the 92nd Street Y’s Unterberg Poetry Center (officially known as the New York City’s  92nd Street Young Men’s and Young Women’s Hebrew Association).

Here is a copy of an assignment he gave to students, in January 1956, who were attending his ‘Form and Style in Poetry’ course.

Auden Assignment

Do you want to give it a go? 😉

I’d love to see what people come up with. If you feel the urge to complete the assignment you can email me (gbryden at bigpond dot com) the ‘result’ in the next couple of weeks and if it fits the bill I will post it on my blog.

I’ll throw my hat in the ring and then we can say we were taught by W.H. Auden 😀




16 thoughts on “Poetry Challenge – Form and Style Assignment from W.H. Auden

    1. Here is one definition bb 🙂 – but I always think of feminine ending as being soft syllables and masculine ending as a hard ending (the syllable is emphasised or stressed). If you ever write a sonnet you will quickly get the hang of these two types of endings – because often you have to try and fit the syllables into the length of the sentence and a feminine ending is very handy.

      feminine rhyme
      a rhyme between words in which one, two, or more unstressed syllables follow a stressed one, as in elation, nation or merrily,

      masculine rhyme
      a rhyme of but a single stressed syllable, as in disdain, complain.

  1. Note – Auden uses a strange, uncommon type of notation but I think I’ve nutted it out as follows:
    – = stressed syllable
    . = unstressed syllable
    / = indicates the end of the iamb
    iamb = two syllable foot (unstressed syllable followed by stressed)
    fem = sentence ends with an unstressed syllable
    masc = sentence ends with a stressed syllable
    inversion of iamb (stressed syllable followed by unstressed)
    Hope that helps

    1. hahaha yes Benedicte his instructions have an entertaining ring to them – like a riddle (and it is a bit of a riddle I suppose) – this type of notation which describes the meter of a poem has gone out of fashion (as has much of the rhymed and formal verse).

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