How to Read a Poem
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Lucid, entertaining and full of insight, How To Read A Poem is designed to banish the intimidation that too often attends the subject of poetry, and in doing so to bring it into the personal possession of the students and the general reader.
- Offers a detailed examination of poetic form and its relation to content.
- Takes a wide range of poems from the Renaissance to the present day and submits them to brilliantly illuminating closes analysis.
- Discusses the work of major poets, including John Milton, Alexander Pope, John Keats, Christina Rossetti, Emily Dickinson, W.B. Yeats, Robert Frost, W.H.Auden, Seamus Heaney, Derek Mahon, and many more.
- Includes a helpful glossary of poetic terms.
registers. Its present tense catches the turmoil of the hunt as it happens, but it is also a timeless present which suggests that the badger-baiting has a venerable tradition behind it. So our sense of dramatic high jinks is blended with a bolstering sense of custom and stability. 2.4 Poetry and Pragmatism Another way of putting the point about fiction is to claim that poems invite us to treat what they say ‘non-pragmatically’. They are not about getting something done in a practical,
tamper . . . (‘In Memory of W. B. Yeats’) Yet this is only one side of the story. What poetry can make happen is a kind of constructive non-happening. By refraining from an immediate intervention in human affairs, it can allow truth and beauty to come about, in ways which may then make things happen. The notion of strategy or performance reminds us that words have force as well as meaning. ‘Force’ means the effect or intended impact of a piece of language, which may not be at one with its
the force of this bizarre image as in its meaning. We are in a modern world in which settled correspondences or traditional affinities between things have broken down. In the arbitrary flux of modern experience, the whole idea of representation – of one thing predictably standing for another – has been plunged into crisis; and this strikingly dislocated image, one which more or less ushers in ‘modern’ poetry with a rebellious flourish, is a symptom of this bleak condition. The point is not to ask
much deeper psychic level, as a pattern of motion and impulse which is inherited from our earliest years, which has tenacious somatic and psychological roots, and which is imprinted in the folds and textures of the self. A baby of six months cannot talk, but scientists have established that it can detect subtle variations in the complex rhythmic patterns of Balkan folk-dance tunes. And it can do so even if it is born in Boston. 135 HTRC05.qxd 12/05/2006 12:32PM Page 136 How to Read a Poem A
grief 107, 114 Grundrisse (Marx) 142 Haeffner, Paul 141n9 Haffenden, John 33n2 Hamlet (Shakespeare) 95, 113 Hardy, Thomas 145, 148, 160 ‘The Darkling Thrush’ 121 Hartman, Geoffrey 2 Heaney, Seamus 142 ‘Digging’ 60, 61 Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich 13 Heidegger, Martin 17, 20 Hemingway, Ernest 19 Herbert, George ‘The Collar’ 116–17 ‘Love’ 94 heroic couplets 25, 53, 166 Keats 78 Pope 87–8, 162 history 36, 160–4 history-as-heritage 18, 19, 20 Homer Iliad 33, 62 Hopkins, Gerard Manley 85 ‘God’s