This course will explore the history of poetic forms and genres from the Restoration of the British monarchy in 1660 to the splendidly chaotic present. We will see how various poets linked their activities with larger social forces that gained momentum as the decades and centuries passed. We will begin with Milton's late dramatic poem, _Samson Agonistes_, and end with the work of recent Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney. In between these two figures, we will read works by Dryden, Swift, Pope, Burns, Macpherson (of the "Ossian" controversy), the six major Romantic poets, the Victorians, and the Moderns. We will attend to the vital aspects of poetic craft (meter, rhyme, figurative language, wordplay, tone, imagery) as well as to the ways in which these poets represent themselves and the world around them. Requirements: two medium-length essays, a mid-term, and a final.