Cover

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Frontmatter

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Contents

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-x

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In the Waiting Room

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pp. 1-14

In Oxford, Mississippi, having cruised Main Street, going (as Benjy did not) the correct legal way around the square and its Confederate soldier, you make your way to William Faulkner's house, "Rowanoak," set back from the street imposingly in a grove of large old trees. ...

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Poetry and Gender

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pp. 15-34

Although few poets may be left who fully endorse Keats's definition of "poetical character," surprisingly many, some of them women, do believe still that the individual self of the artist—sexual, ethnic, historical, political, and geographical—is subverted to the uses and priorities...

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Rethinking Adjectives

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pp. 35-54

In comparisons to John Donne in his 1921 essay on the Metaphysical poets, T. S. Eliot said, "Tennyson and Browning are poets, and they think; but they do not feel their thought as immediately as the odour of a rose." Set beside the sample he ferrets out of Tennyson, the...

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Image

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pp. 55-73

There are two usual ways to praise the image. The first assumes that art is representational or "imitative," recording and embodying the shared reality we think of as the world. From this largely classical aesthetic position the image is valued as "a picture made out of words,"...

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On Tone

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pp. 74-93

I had intended, for months, to write about clarity—as a first principle, as a life's goal. I had even set aside a clutch of my favorite poems as illustration and working text, poems that were resonant, complex, and yet clear. Then the mail brought in a bulletin, a newsletter, some of...

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Structural Subversion

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pp. 94-113

Poet and novelist Stephen Dobyns has said that every lyric poem implies a narrative. What he means is a sequence of past events, left out of the poem, that brought the speaker to the present, intensified moment in the poem. Assuming the speaker is the poet, Dobyns also means...

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The Flexible Lyric

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pp. 114-171

These days, when genre seems a relic of simpler times, one would hardly blink at Polonius's oxymoronic blurb—"pastoral-comical, historical-pastoral, tragical-historical, tragical- comical-historical-pastoral." For instance, a recent journal article concludes with this flurry of terms:...

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Ruthless Attention

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pp. 172-196

In the August 15,1991, issue of the New York Review of Books, building toward the term "romantic alchemy" with which to celebrate a particular American poet as the "voice of our times," John Bayley cites five specific achievements: use of the banal, disregard for meaning...

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A Moment's Thought

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pp. 197-216

In Dr. Zhivago (the movie) there is a scene in which handsome, mustached Omar Sharif, surrogate for Boris Pasternak, bundled up against the dangerous cold in his empty dacha with Julie Christie and Geraldine Chaplin relegated off-screen, is composing a love poem. ...

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 217-222

Index

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pp. 223-226