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The Secret Life of Poems: A Poetry Primer Paperback – 4 Aug 2011
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Tom Paulin's A Secret Life of Poems: A Poetry Primer is an encounter with some of the most celebrated poems in the English language, by one of the most distinguished poet-critics of our time.
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The Secret Life of Poems is a primer which offers a poem or on occasion an excerpt with succeeding commentary in which rhythm, form, metre and sources are the order of the day, not ethical commentary or descriptive paraphrase. This brief engagement with forty-seven poems is intended for students and readers of poetry, and seeks to explain how poetry works by bringing into view the hidden order of specific poems. The idea for the book came from Tom Paulins experience of reading a poem by Yeats, and realising the subtlety of its workings as the sudden dawning of an acoustic or musical aspect: I began to imagine a critical account of his or any poets work which jettisoned all earnest explication of the text and concentrated on sound, cadence, metre, rhyme, form. The Secret Life of Poems is true to Yeatss dictum that Words alone are certain good. It is at once an anthology and a plein-air encounter with some of the most celebrated poems in the language, by one of the most distinguished poet-critics of our time. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product description
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Paulin is a controversial and outspoken academic with a high media profile, a unique presence on late night review programmes. Over the last thirty years his prolific output of poetry, criticism and drama has been a consistent presence in the British literary scene. He is a champion of the urgent and politicised reading of poetry, and it is no accident that his literary heroes are users of powerful, rugged and vital language such as Frost, Rossetti, Hopkins and Heaney.
The reading here are controversial and sometimes sensational. The effect of reading them cover to cover is cumulative, rather like engaging in a sequence of hard working tutorials with a teacher of the first rank. You will not agree with all of the critical points raised in the book, but they will send you back to the original texts with your preconceptions challenged and lazy interpretations routed. A fine book that is a bold shout about the nature of poetry as vital and life-affirming art.
What comes through most strongly from a reading of this marvellous book is Paulin's love of the canon of clear, emotionally direct, muscular poetry. We move from Bunyan to John Clare to Hopkins (whose shadow hangs over much of Paulin's work) to Heaney and with each we are taught a whole new way of reading and enjoying the poems.
Spend time learning how to read again in Paulin's company - he brings a freshness and vigour to everything touched by his unique intellect.
I found his comments revitalised my interest in poems I have known since childhood and brought me fresh delights to savour and new interests to explore. 'The Secret Life of Poems' is a valuable book for the poetry lover. Some will want to read it through in one go, but I suggest you keep it to be dipped into at intervals, each 'dip' followed by the additional reading it will stimulate you to go looking for.