Edward Hirsch has written a meticulous analysis of the art of poetry, imbued with an authentic love of the form. From page to page he dissects and interprets; his enthusiasm remains high throughout. Not just the poetry, but also the poets themselves are lavished with heroic praise, their craft transcending the mortal. Their words are golden strands of virtue more appropriately whispered into the ears of gods.
For those of us uneducated in the art of poetry there is a much more basic level of understanding that has to be achieved first: Why no punctuation? Why do sentences break in mid-breath? How does one find the meter in a poem? How does one read poetry without the stops and starts from line to line? Perhaps we should have learned this in school, but we didn't, so we bought this book.
This is a good book, really, but it is not what its title suggests. It should rather be entitled "The Love of Poetry", or "Falling in Love With Poetry", or... read more
An excellent introduction to the pleasures of poetry
By Buckeye - August 8, 2000
A mentor of mine always used to say "There are two kinds of people in this world!" and he would then expand on whatever dichotomy was on his mind at the moment. He might well have said that there are those who "get" poetry, and those who don't. I have always been firmly in the latter camp, but perhaps am more recently moving toward the former. Though I still have quite a ways to go, this book really helped move me along. This is a very well-written introduction to the joys of reading poetry. Besides presenting the reader with examples of many different types and styles of poetry it's just very enjoyable to read this author's writing. While my reaction to the poems in the book is not even on the same scale as the author's very visceral, emotional responses, I feel like I nevertheless grasped enough of his reaction to know what he was feeling, and what he was getting at in his description. But I'll admit that some of the poems I read over and... read more
By jjo - December 29, 1999
I got this book because I'm a complete novice who would like to learn to enjoy poetry. The book certainly put me on the right track, as it was inspiring more than anything else.My one gripe is that my biggest problem with poetry is that I simply don't understand much of it. Any time I pick up a poem, I will, sure as anything, hit a line or two (at least) I can't figure out, and then I lose interest in the poem. There is a skill to reading poetry and I don't have it yet. Hirsch at his best would pull a poem apart and explain his reading. However, many times he would quote a few lines and talk about how wonderful they were, without explaining what they meant to him, and I was clueless. It was fustrating to have a book that purports to explain poetry to novices assume I would understand something I didn't. That said, I understood about 75% of the book, thought it beautifully written, and am now looking for other introductions to move me along the path.
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