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The Poem's Heartbeat: A Manual of Prosody, Revised Edition (Story Line Press Writer's Guides) Paperback – March, 1997


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Product Details

  • Series: Story Line Press Writer's Guides
  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Story Line Press (March 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1885266405
  • ISBN-13: 978-1885266408
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,414,088 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Corn (Part of His Story, LJ 3/15/97), acclaimed poet and teacher, provides a quality guide to rhyme, rhythm, meter, and form for students, experienced readers, and practitioners of poetry. Not merely an introduction to verse form (a subcategory of prosody), this intelligent, user-friendly book guides readers through artistic conventions employed in shaping and measuring a poem. Ten chapters explore the complex and subtle merging of the oral and written English-language tradition into the rhythmic directives of the poet's craft. Corn's text is good-humored and accessible. His experience has deftly led him in organizing what may well be the finest general book available on prosody. Recommended for private, public, and academic libraries. [For a review of Corn's latest book of poetry, see p. 97 and for his first novel, see LJ 3/15/97.?Ed.]?Scott Hightower, NYU/Gallatin, New Yor.
-?Scott Hightower, NYU/Gallatin, New York
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

This book shatters stereotypes equating the study of prosody with poetry boot camp and instead introduces the fine art of versification. In clear bell tones that are this master poet's rhythmic signature, nuances of rhyme, rhythm, and meter are conveyed in precise, tactile language sensitive to history and etymology. Usually dry definitions are transformed into subtle image schemes that work as superior mnemonic devices. We learn, for example, that "line" comes from the Latin linea, which is derived from the word for a thread of linen. Corn compares the composition of lines to weaving a thread slowly from left to right. In the hands of the skilled poet, a line's repeated "quick left reversal" at the text's margin can hypnotize, or summon the unconscious part of the mind. Metrical variations, usually muddled through by most texts, here receive their own lucid chapter that thoroughly prepares the poet for progressively more complex sections. By the book's end, Corn, magi-teacher and impeccable guide, has taught the novice to become artist and magician, wielding stress and syllable to spark "intuitive and technical lightning-flashes" and a "depth charge of insight" that leave the dreary formal footsteps of tradition far behind.
Copyright © 1996, Boston Review. All rights reserved. -- From The Boston Review

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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The first four books are very good and certainly worth reading.
George C. J. Fleck II
This book helped me have a better understanding of poetry and a deeper read of poets' work.
Ingrid Wik
In a clear and concise manner, Corn explains metered and unmetered verse.
SK

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

78 of 78 people found the following review helpful By George C. J. Fleck II on August 5, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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.
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42 of 43 people found the following review helpful By James R. Mccall on May 1, 2003
Format: Paperback
This (sub)titles itself "A Manual of Prosody", as it indeed is. Actually, it is a manual of the dominant prosody of the English-speaking world since 1500 or so, the accentual-syllabic sort. Other possible prosodic disciplines, such as accentual, durational, and syllabic, are mentioned and briefly exampled, but finally are dismissed as antique or foreign. Which they are: there is little point, in a book that is not a treatise, in taking up such matters.
So, as a manual on English-language prosody (and, to a lesser extent, verse forms), how is it? Not bad, actually: it's an easy read, and its points about varying stress levels in iambic lines are illuminating. The book introduces technical terms as it goes along, but makes no effort to highlight them. Some are indexed, but not all, so a glossary would be helpful. On a couple of occasions I found myself puzzled at his use of terms. He had covered them, but in a low-key way, and there was no easy way to get back to the discussions other than by searching through unmarked text.
His discussion of free verse is general and, appropriately, he talks mostly about what it is not, since it does not follow the rules of traditional prosody. (Someone else will have to tell me what it is.)
This book would be more helpful with visual aids. The parts of a verse line could be illustrated, and various verse forms entabled. A glossary or detailed index that allowed one to go from a poem that one is trying to analyze to a discussion of relevant points would be nice, as would a few sample deconstructions of real poems.

Having said that, I do think that the author has achieved his stated aim of writing an introductory work on the subject, presupposing no, or little, prior knowledge. He includes fragments of poetry to illustrate his points, but not terribly much. One should probably reinforce what he says with readings from some anthology of classic poems.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Brentley on February 1, 2001
Format: Paperback
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!
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By adead_poet@hotmail.com on June 1, 2003
Format: Paperback
I've read a few of these 'manuals on prosody' and I found Corn's to be one of the better ones. He writes in an easy to understand style that would help any beginner. He covers everything pretty well. I still prefer Fussell's Poetic Meter & Poetic Form and Tim Steele's All the Fun's in How You Say a Thing (though Corn's is written in an easier style, Fussell and Steele are more comprehensive), but I'd recommend this to those who want to learn how to write in meter and form.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By richardpinneau.com on June 21, 2003
Format: Paperback
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.
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