First published in 1951, this book is based on a course of lectures on poetry and prose given at Cambridge University during the long vacations of 1946-1950. A request for lectures of this kind came originally from a group of science students and the response was such that a course of this nature ran yearly. The purpose was to provide students from disciplines other than the humanities with the opportunity to feed their interest in English poetry and literature.

chapter 2|10 pages

The Ballad The Twa Corbies and Donne's A Valediction

Forbidding mourning

chapter 4|11 pages

Two kinds of obscurity

Blake's The Sick Rose: and a passage from T. S, Eliot's The Waste Land

chapter 5|10 pages

Two Poems by Yeats

The Stare's Nest by my Window and Before the World was Made

chapter 6|10 pages

Two Passages from Shakespeare

chapter 7|18 pages

Two Passages from the Bible

Ecclesiastes XI, 9–10, and XII and Matthew VI, 19–34

chapter 8|11 pages


And the Way of a Romantic

chapter 9|16 pages

Notes for A Background to English Literary History

I (c. 1300–1660)

chapter 10|20 pages

Notes for A Background to English Literary History

II (c. 1660–1900)

chapter 11|11 pages