Poetry...Patton wrote it, Plato feared it, and Alexander the Great kept it under his pillow. There is no literary genre - indeed, no form expression - at once more revered and reviled. Enter into an examination of this essential and controversial art. You will read the poetries of several periods and traditions, explore historical and political contexts, and evaluate competing theories of poetics. And everyone has a theory: "Poetry's unnat'ral," Tony Weller tells his Valentine-writing son in Charles Dickens's Pickwick Papers, "no man ever talked poetry 'cept a beadle on boxin' day...or some o' them low fellows, never you let yourself down to talk poetry, my boy."