uni are you at? I'm sending off UCAS applications, (is this what you had to do?) it's a pain...
I'm taking a gap year though, it's a fairly corny thing to do, but I'm sick of being educated. I like to learn things along my own way, but I suppose this is what Uni's about...?
the duchess is a funny play, there's strong themes of corruption, social hierarchies...but then there's this really grotesque humour that's almost like the gross out comedies that are around at the moment. strange. the process of reading it at college was a real pain too, it's quite dense language and abstract imagery, so every line had to be analysed and referred back to the notes, and put into social and historical contexts, but that was for us 17 year olds in a college in Oldham, I imagine it's a lot easier to grasp once you're more well read.
I loved Blake because it was simplistic, easy to understand (easier than the duchess, anyway), and so I could write better essays, then get better grades(!)
It's all very beautiful as well, language, images. Apparently he was doing what Shelley and the 'romantic' poets were doing 50 years before.
Ted Hughes? Heard the name, I'll look for something.