Fenton is primarily concerned with the whys of English verse. Why is iambic pentameter the standard line in English? Why do modern poets recite as they do (flatly)? Why are some poetic forms more versatile in English than others? Why has poetic drama in English been moribund since the seventeenth century? If he doesn't have definitive or original answers to such questions, he always speaks authoritatively about them as a poet and broad-ranging student of poetry. He knows and practices what he talks about. He gets history into the discussion by discriminating between what can and can't now be read comprehensibly--that is, between later-than-fifteenth-century verse and earlier poetry, even Chaucer's, which is pronounced very differently--and in the chronological range, from Elizabethan lyrics to a contemporary experimental sonnet, of the poems he quotes to exemplify different forms, meters, and rhythmic variations within the verse line. John Hollander's Rhyme's Reason
(3d ed., 2001) remains the best primer on poetic forms per se, but to understand form in English verse, Fenton's your man. Ray OlsonCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"[Fenton's] essays educate, enlighten, surprise and thrill, unfailingly." --Robin Lippincott, The New York Times Book Review