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Rhyme's Reason: A Guide to English Verse, Third Edition [Paperback]

John Hollander
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Feb. 8 2001 0300088329 978-0300088328 3
In his classic text, Rhyme's Reason, the distinguished poet and critic John Hollander surveys the schemes, patterns, and forms of English verse, illustrating each variation with an original and witty self-descriptive example. In this substantially expanded and revised edition, Hollander adds a section of examples taken from centuries of poetry that exhibit the patterns he has described.

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Rhyme's Reason: A Guide to English Verse, Third Edition + Poetic Meter and Poetic Form
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In the grand tradition of Alexander Pope, John Hollander offers this explication/enactment of poetic form. There are sonnets about how to write sonnets, haiku about how to write haiku, and so on. The writing is clever, entertaining, and instructive, which will surprise no one familiar with Hollander's work. What's even more impressive, though, is how often these poems--which could so easily start to feel like homework--engage you emotionally. The sestina about sestinas is beautiful, and, excepting Dylan Thomas's "Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night," Hollander's villanelle about villanelles is as captivating an example as one will find of the old French fixed form. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.


"A sparkling performance." -- Richard Wilbur

"Discussions of prosody usually make for yawns and heavy eyelids, but John Hollander's book, now usefully augmented, is a sparkling performance. He defines and illustrates the forms and means of English verse in such a way as to teach us, also, the spirit of play which animates even the gravest poem." -- Richard Wilbur

"Marvelously comprehensive, clarifying and useful ... also a delight to read."

John Reardon, Los Angeles Times Book Review -- John Reardon, Los Angeles Times Book Review

"Marvelously comprehensive, clarifying and useful, [and] . . . also a delight to read." -- John Reardon, Los Angeles Times Book Review

"The most useful guide of its kind in years. It is at once comprehensive, lucid, concise, and fun." -- G. E. Murray, Chicago Sun-Times

"The most useful guide of its kind in years. It is at once comprehensive, lucid, concise, and fun." -- G. E. Murray, Chicago Sun-Times

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5.0 out of 5 stars Wow! I am so glad I have this June 16 2003
By J. Ott
I can hardly contain myself. After reading through several books about how to write poetry I came to this one. Though I am almost jumping for joy, I have a soupcon of sadness, because I wish I had started here. Hollander's book is like a good poem: concise, entertaining, and ultimately full of wisdom. Just compare Hollander's examples on forms (in the forms!) to the lackluster examples in The Book of Forms by Lewis Turco.
Don't be fooled by the title. This book is about all aspects of poetry, including free verse (and even 'concrete' poems). While Rhyme's Reason has a smaller selection of forms than The Book of Forms and a shorter discussion of prosody than All the Fun's in How You Say a Thing, it had more than enough meat for me. And I can unhesitatingly recommend it for first forays into the appreciation and composition of poetry. Make sure to get the Third Edition, of the year 2000, which has a few added goodies. Enjoy!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Witty education Aug. 7 2001
Clear, concise, informed, and witty. This guide to the forms of English verse from our greatest living verse technician goes beyond counting beats and diagramming rhyme schemes to discuss the formal aspects of rhetorical figures -- and how all these help create poetic meaning. All told, it's the most valuable book of its type I've ever read.
Contrary to one reviewer, I find the expansions of the second edition -- especially the analysis of verbal mimesis -- useful, and prefer this over the other editions. The third edition has added an anthology of examples taken from the wild, in addition to Hollander's well-bred examples, of forms discussed in the text. This is nice enough in its way, but not essential. Worse, it has (in the first printing at least) a large number of infuriating typographical errors, including incorrect page references.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Proves that rhyme can still be relevant July 8 2003
This is a clever and masterful book. The author demolishes the new fashional nonsense about rhyme being creatively passe. Rhyme is not necessarily restrictive or formulaic. It can still be powerful, enjoyable and richly expressive.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Only Poetry Primer You'll Ever Need July 17 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Only primer for poetry you'll ever need. Handles what I think are complex concepts (especially meter) in the most concise manner possible. The fact that the advice given is rendered in the form of poetry makes this an entertaining read as well.
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By Mark Nenadov TOP 1000 REVIEWER
This is a really unique little book. The author uses verse to teach about various forms of verse. So, instead of writing paragraphs upon paragraphs of explanation about accentual-syllabic verse, quatrains, iambic pentameter, etc, he tends to demonstrate it. He writes about verse in verse.

For example:

"Haiku, with seven
Syllables in between two
Shorter lines of five,"

Another example:

Have lines of four
Syllable, six, and eight
Ending, as starting, with a line
Of two,"

And another example:

"A true Spenserian stanza wakes up well
With what will seem a quatrain first; in time
The third line rings its 'a' rhyme like a bell
The fourth, it's 'b; resounding like a dime..."

Some of the content of the book is "above my head" in terms of its technical detail about verse. And I'm not sure whether I'll really remember the hardest parts. However, John Hollander has done a fantastic job in making such difficult content digestible. I think anyone who is giving a serious try at studying or writing poetry should read this book.
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