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On Poets and Poetry
     

On Poets and Poetry

by William H. Pritchard
 

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William Pritchard’s collection of essays and reviews on poets and poetry ranges from Dryden and Milton through the major American and British poets of the last century. One of them, Philip Larkin, answered an interviewer’s question about what he had learned from his study of other poets by snapping back, “Oh, for Christ’s sake, one

Overview

William Pritchard’s collection of essays and reviews on poets and poetry ranges from Dryden and Milton through the major American and British poets of the last century. One of them, Philip Larkin, answered an interviewer’s question about what he had learned from his study of other poets by snapping back, “Oh, for Christ’s sake, one doesn’t study poets! You read them, and think: That’s marvelous; how is it done?” Although Pritchard has been talking with students about poets for more than fifty years, his practice in writing has Larkin’s question in mind: how to describe convincingly the way it’s done, the “marvelous” creations of Tennyson, Hardy, Yeats, Robert Lowell, or Larkin himself. Pritchard’s aim throughout is to address not only academics but the larger, intelligent audience of non-specialist readers who look to poetry for the surprise that is central to all imaginative literature.

Hugh Kenner, one of three twentieth-century critics of poetry treated in this book, once wrote that “the chief requisite for criticism is not analytic skill but a trained sensibility.” William Pritchard’s sensibility has been trained in the practice of attending to a poet’s style and voice—of what Robert Frost once called “ear-reading.” His endeavor is not to discover hidden, buried treasures (what the poem “really means”) but to engage with instances of measured language as they reveal themelves, in both the “timing” of individual poems and the historical time in which poets and poetry live.
 

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Mr. Pritchard’s balanced and expert appraisals put more willfully idiosyncratic and ingenious critics to shame. For Mr. Pritchard the poem always comes first, its value found partly in how much it helps us ‘to live our lives.’”
— The Wall Street Journal

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780804011150
Publisher:
Ohio University Press
Publication date:
07/01/2009
Edition description:
1
Pages:
272
Sales rank:
1,238,909
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.90(d)

Meet the Author

William H. Pritchard  is a professor of English at Amherst College. He has written biographical studies of Robert Frost, Randall Jarrell, and John Updike; a memoir, English Papers; and three collections of essays and reviews.

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