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A former poet laureate provides informative introductions and sidebar notes for more than 80 poems by greats including William Butler Yeats, Emily Dickinson and George Herbert, in an effort to spark pleasure in reading and writing poems. 13,000 first printing.
“Magnificent . . . poems to inspire [with] brief and brilliant, offhand notes about how to read them.”—Alan Cheuse, NPR Quick, joyful, and playfully astringent, with surprising comparisons and examples, this collection takes an unconventional approach to the art of poetry. Instead of rules, theories, or recipes, Singing School emphasizes ways to learn from great work: studying magnificent, monumentally enduring poems and how they are made— in terms borrowed from the “singing school” of William Butler Yeats’s “Sailing to Byzantium.” Robert Pinsky’s headnotes for each of the 80 poems and his brief introductions to each section take a writer’s view of specific works: William Carlos Williams’s “Fine Work with Pitch and Copper” for intense verbal music; Emily Dickinson’s “Because I Could Not Stop for Death” for wild imagination in matter-of-fact language; Robert Southwell’s “The Burning Babe” for surrealist aplomb; Wallace Stevens’s “The House Was Quiet and the World Was Calm” for subtlety in meter. Included are poems by Aphra Behn, Allen Ginsberg, George Herbert, John Keats, Mina Loy, Thomas Nashe, and many other master poets. This anthology respects poetry’s mysteries in two senses of the word: techniques of craft and strokes of the inexplicable.
A former poet laureate provides informative introductions and sidebar notes for more than 80 poems by greats including William Butler Yeats, Emily Dickinson and George Herbert, in an effort to spark pleasure in reading and writing poems. Reprint.
"Read a poem to yourself in the middle of the night. Turn on a single lamp and read it while you're alone in an otherwise dark room or while someone sleeps next to you. Say it over to yourself in a place where silence reigns and the din of culture—the constant buzzing noise that surrounds you—has momentarily stopped. This poem has come from a great distance to find you." So begins this astonishing book by one of our leading poets and critics. In an unprecedented exploration of the genre, Hirsch writes about what poetry is, why it matters, and how we can open up our imaginations so that its message—which is of vital importance in day-to-day life—can reach us and make a difference. For Hirsch, poetry is not just a part of life, it is life, and expresses like no other art our most sublime emotions. In a marvelous reading of world poetry, including verse by such poets as Wallace Stevens, Elizabeth Bishop, Pablo Neruda, William Wordsworth, Sylvia Plath, Charles Baudelaire, and many more, Hirsch discovers the meaning of their words and ideas and brings their sublime message home into our hearts. A masterful work by a master poet, this brilliant summation of poetry and human nature will speak to all readers who long to place poetry in their lives but don't know how to read it.
The Poet Laureate's clear and entertaining account of how poetry works. "Poetry is a vocal, which is to say a bodily, art," Robert Pinsky declares in The Sounds of Poetry. "The medium of poetry is the human body: the column of air inside the chest, shaped into signifying sounds in the larynx and the mouth. In this sense, poetry is as physical or bodily an art as dancing." As Poet Laureate, Pinsky is one of America's best spokesmen for poetry. In this fascinating book, he explains how poets use the "technology" of poetry--its sounds--to create works of art that are "performed" in us when we read them aloud. He devotes brief, informative chapters to accent and duration, syntax and line, like and unlike sounds, blank and free verse. He cites examples from the work of fifty different poets--from Shakespeare, Donne, and Herbert to W. C. Williams, Frost, Elizabeth Bishop, C. K. Williams, Louise Glück, and Frank Bidart. This ideal introductory volume belongs in the library of every poet and student of poetry.
Incorporates traditional and experimental styles from the works of more than seventy poets, and includes biographical information and introductory essays on the evolution of the hybrid style.
Intense verbal music with a jazz feeling; invention against the grain of expectation; intelligence racing among materials with the variety of a busy street—these have been the qualities of Robert Pinsky's work since his first book, Sadness and Happiness (1975), celebrated for setting a new direction in American poetry. At that time, responding to a question about that book, Pinsky said: "I would like to write a poetry which could contain every kind of thing, while keeping all the excitement of poetry." That ambition was realized in a new way with each of his books, including the book-length personal monologue An Explanation of America; the transformed autobiography of History of My Heart; the bestselling translation The Inferno of Dante; and, most recently, the savage, inventive Gulf Music. That variety and renewal are represented in this brilliantly chosen volume.

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