The Art of Poetry: How to Read a Poem / Edition 1

Hardcover (Print)
Buy New
Buy New from
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $1.99
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 94%)
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (16) from $1.99   
  • New (5) from $24.30   
  • Used (11) from $1.99   


Anyone who has been asked to read and understand a poem has probably wondered: What does this really mean? Have I understood this the way I was supposed to? Did I get it? As the least literal of all of forms of creative writing, poetry is for many readers also the most cryptic. Confronted by the mysteries of poetic interpretation, some people are intrigued, some become addicted, others are left frustrated. Shira Wolosky's accessibly written book, The Art of Poetry, provides a road map of the poetic form that will help its readers understand and enjoy poetry.

The Art of Poetry offers a step-by-step introduction to skills for reading poetry, working progressively from smaller units such as the individual word, the line, and the image to larger ones, such as verse forms, voice and gender, and metrical patterns. These basic skills of poetic analysis are presented in conjunction with a selection of poems that acquaints the reader with the great lyric poets in the English and American tradition. As a whole, The Art of Poetry presents a vision of poetry as dynamic, historical, and culturally engaged.

About the Author:
Shira Wolosky is Professor of English and American Literature at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Wolosky's guide is designed to introduce readers to poetry, the art form she calls "verbal music." In 14 chapters, she defines the small units of poetic form word, line, and image before moving into larger definitions of verse form and voice. The book includes a two-chapter discussion of the sonnet's form and history, as well as a discussion of gender as an element of analysis. To illustrate her theses, Wolosky (English and American literature, Hebrew Univ., Jerusalem; Language Mysticism) interprets poems by Shakespeare, Donne, Blake, Wordsworth, Dickinson, Frost, and Plath, as well as many other often-anthologized poets. The glossary is a useful reference tool, but the overall tone, while accessible, is academic, and a more contemporary listing of poets would have been better for the novice. General readers and poetry lovers will be better served by a good anthology, such as Elise Paschen and Rebekah Presson Mosby's Poetry Speaks (LJ 10/15/01). Recommended for academic libraries only. Pam Kingsbury, Florence, AL Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
From the Publisher

"The project itself is both coherent and concise, relying on close readings of short, post-medieval introduce concepts of diction, syntax, metre, and rhyme. At its best, the book shows that clarity of discussion need not sell short depth of analysis, or complexity of awareness, and it is an excellent starting-point for any serious consideration of form in poetry, of what poetry does to language and what language is always ready to do to poetry."--Peter McDonald, Poetry Review

"The Art of Poetry is both a superb technical manual and an authentic guide to the art of reading poetry. With brilliance and extraordinary lucidity, Wolosky illuminates such essential matters as metaphor, poetic voice, and the crucial relation of rhetoric to poetic meaning. I cannot imagine a more useful and distinguished book of this kind." --Harold Bloom, Yale University

"Wolosky has written the best basic treatment I know of the art of poetry. Wolosky structures the book brilliantly, and makes the process of learning about textual virtuosity and semantic complexity a joy. She builds her explications from the ground up (or from the surface down), always with attention to what it means to make a student get into a poem step by step. I have learned a great deal from this work, though I've been teaching poetry for twenty years. This is a genuinely important book, and I predict it will become in short time a standard text for teaching poetry."--Sacvan Bercovitch, Harvard University

"Here is a generous Art of Poetry for the modern English-speaking world. How tellingly Shira Wolosky moves from matters of taxonomy to those of technique, from the rudiments of poetic form to the resonance of poetic voice and point of view--from praxis to theory and back, from literary history to the experience of the literature itself. For at every step the author supports her claims with readings of individuals poems that are close and adept, eloquent and acute. This book is a welcome gift, an arresting vade mecum for student and teacher, reader and writer alike."--Robert Fagles, Princeton University

"Shira Wolosky's comprehensive and lucid practical introduction to what makes poems poetic also provides a sophisticated and informative look at theoretical poetics in all its aspects. Its annotated bibliography alone will give interested readers of all sorts a good sense of what scholars, critics, and linguists have had to say about poetry during the twentieth century. It is rare that an elementary study can also be as useful for advanced students and teachers of poetry as this well-worked-out exposition, clearly written and free of pseudotheoretical jargon."-- John Hollander, Yale University

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195138702
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 9/28/2001
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 240
  • Lexile: 1160L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Shira Wolosky is Professor of English and American Literature at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

1 Individual Words 3
2 Syntax and the Poetic Line 17
3 Images: Simile and Metaphor 29
4 Metaphor and the Sonnet 41
5 Verse Forms: The Sonnet 53
6 Poetic Conventions 69
7 More Verse Forms 81
8 Personification 93
9 Poetic Voice 105
10 Gender and Poetic Voice 119
11 Poetic Rhythm: Meter 135
12 Poetic Rhythm: Sound and Rhyme 151
13 Rhetoric: More Tropes 167
14 Incomplete Figures and the Art of Reading 181
Glossary 195
Bibliographical Backgrounds 201
Index of Poems 217
Index of Poets 221
Index of Terms and Topics 223
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)