on February 1, 2001
The best way to craft quality poetry is to read the masters, present and past: Hardy,Frost,Yeats,Auden,Masefield,C.S.Lewis, Wilbur,Steele,Gioia,et al. The best way to read the masters is to have an outstanding guide like this one, or Timothy Steele's "All the Fun's In How You Say a Thing", both must-have companions for the serious composer of metered/rhymed poetry. Alfred Corn has done New Formalism poetry a massive favor with this book. How does Thomas Hardy get his Darkling Thrush to sing so melodiously, flinging his soul into the air? Read this volume and find out how Hardy masters end rhyme using subtle variation of one,two and three syllable words of different parts of speech: noun,verb,adjective,etc. How does Frost rivet our attention with his Road Less Taken? Metrical variation, not sing-song monotony, as Corn masterfully explains. How does Auden leave indelible impressions in the reader's memory with his villanelle 'If I Could Tell You'? Corn sketches the poetic canvass for the careful reader to see the brush-strokes,tones,textures,context, colors,etc. To be a better poet, or to be a more appreciative reader of the great poets and discern what doesn't quite measure up, get this book and Steele's "All the Fun". Also, anything by Richard Wilbur would be essential to explore the mind of the master of the 21st Century: Prose Pieces, Catbird's Song, Mayflies. Enjoy!
on August 5, 2000
I have accumulated five HOW TO books on writing poetry - Rules of the Dance - Making your own Days - The Art of Poetry Writing - In the Palm of Your Hand - and The Poem's Heartbeat - A Manual of Prosody. The first four books are very good and certainly worth reading. However, I found more in this book than all the other books put together. I took Corn's book and several other poetry titles on vacation and wound up reading this book through three times in seven days and barely looked at the other books. It is the epitome of a HOW TO book written by a poet/teacher who has learned his craft thoroughly. Well written, easy to understand, Corn holds the reader's interest through the entire 161 pages. The chapter on Metrical variations alone is worth the price of the book. If you like to read poetry, this book will help you understand poetry from Medieval to Post Modern, and if you write poetry, as I do, this is a must have manual.
on June 21, 2003
The title does more justice than the subtitle. Such a pleasure to read, poet Corn?s guide to understanding the ?beat? of poetry never leaves the reader in ?manual? tedium. Instead he entertains with the lively varieties that ?feet? can dance in different poetic styles.
Realizing the poets and poetry lovers generally appreciate both words and history, Corn introduces terms through intriguing tidbits about their etymology and resulting connotations (e.g., verse from turning - like plowed rows; line from linen thread; text from textile; iamb from Greek to assail). Likewise, he shows the power of different metrical patterns in daily speech and variations thereof - thus helping the strange pedilections of poets make a little more sense.
The focus is *English* language verse, but Corn also includes enough cross-cultural references to help us appreciate our differences and commonalities with the ancients and other moderns. Yes, it is a manual in the sense of providing a thorough understanding of how and why poetry meters (and sometimes doesn?t); but Corn is a poet and here enhances a student?s love of verse through deeper understanding, even for the technical underpinnings.
A HIGHLY recommended and DELIGHTFUL book.