How to Read French Poetry

Patrick Thom, Manchester Grammar School

Explore top tips for reading poetry in French to improve reading comprehension

There is a long and rich tradition of poetry in the French language. From verse playwrights like Racine and Molière, to symbolists like Charles Baudelaire and Paul Verlaine, to surrealists like Jacques Prévert and Andre Breton, and beyond.

Any A Level (high school) or undergraduate student of French will need to learn how to read poetry in French. Understanding French poetry can be challenging, however. Even for gifted students, poetic language can be complex, even if individual words or phrases are clear.

This course will equip you with a poetic toolkit to boost reading comprehension of French poetry. Based on real-life challenges and methodologies developed at Manchester Grammar School, the course will help you to approach French poetry with confidence.

Develop a universal poetic toolkit to analyse poetry in French

The poetic toolkit developed in this course will help you understand poetic form, poetic language, and the ‘sound effects’ of French poetry. You will learn how to identify the story and meaning of a poem, and how to try and deduce the poet’s purpose.

You will ultimately be able to speak with authority on poetry in French, with the assurance that you will be able to justify your comments.

This French reading course is aimed at three groups of learners:

  • A Level (high school) students of French considering degree study.
  • Undergraduate students seeking guidance on how to read French poetry.
  • General interest readers interested in French poetry.

Understanding poetry can pose serious challenges in any language. This course focuses specifically on poetry in French. The skills learned, however, would be equally applicable for students of any poetry.

  • 27 September 2021
Course properties:
  • Free:
  • Paid:
  • Certificate:
  • MOOC:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Email-course:
  • Language: English Gb


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