âMagnificent . . . poems to inspire [with] brief and brilliant, offhand notes about how to read them.ââAlan Cheuse, NPRQuick, 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 madeâ in terms borrowed from the âsinging schoolâ of William Butler Yeatsâs âSailing to Byzantium.â
Robert Pinskyâs headnotes for each of the 80 poems and his brief introductions to each section take a writerâs view of specific works: William Carlos Williamsâs âFine Work with Pitch and Copperâ for intense verbal music; Emily Dickinsonâs âBecause I Could Not Stop for Deathâ for wild imagination in matter-of-fact language; Robert Southwellâs âThe Burning Babeâ for surrealist aplomb; Wallace Stevensâs âThe House Was Quiet and the World Was Calmâ 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 poetryâs mysteries in two senses of the word: techniques of craft and strokes of the inexplicable.
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