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Our Secret Discipline: Yeats and Lyric Form…
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Our Secret Discipline: Yeats and Lyric Form (2007)

by Helen Vendler

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I want to take a class taught by Helen Vendler. It would not be an easy A. Instead, it would challenge and open new doors and windows into some of my favorite poets. Vendler is the poet's great reader, one who spends time and effort rereading and rereading again, studying the structure, asking why the poet went this way instead of that. She is a student of form and its revelatory impact on content.

In this book, Vendler makes an intense study of Yeats, form by form, seeking to understand his choices whether conscious or not, explicating the impact of choice on each poem and of the poem on the form. Not an introduction to Yeats but rather a fine advanced study for those who have already spent some time with his poetry. If that's you, then read this book. ( )
  dasam | Jul 25, 2017 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0674026950, Hardcover)

Listen to a short interview with Helen Vendler
Host: Chris Gondek | Producer: Heron & Crane

The fundamental difference between rhetoric and poetry, according to Yeats, is that rhetoric is the expression of one's quarrels with others while poetry is the expression (and sometimes the resolution) of one's quarrel with oneself. This is where Helen Vendler's Our Secret Discipline begins. Through exquisite attention to outer and inner forms, Vendler explores the most inventive reaches of the poet's mind. This book is a space-clearing gesture, an attempt to write about lyric forms in Yeats in unprecedented and comprehensive ways. The secret discipline of the poet is his vigilant attention to forms--whether generic, structural, or metrical. Yeats explores the potential of such forms to give shape and local habitation to volatile thoughts and feelings.

Helen Vendler remains focused on questions of singular importance: Why did Yeats cast his poems into the widely differing forms they ultimately took? Can we understand Yeats's poetry better if we pay attention to inner and outer lyric form? Chapters of the book take up many Yeatsian ventures, such as the sonnet, the lyric sequence, paired poems, blank verse, and others. With elegance and precision, Vendler offers brilliant insights into the creative process and speculates on Yeats's aims as he writes and rewrites some of the most famous poems in modern literature.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:36 -0400)

"The fundamental difference between rhetoric and poetry, according to Yeats, is that rhetoric is the expression of one's quarrels with others while poetry is the expression (and sometimes the resolution) of one's quarrel with oneself. This is where Helen Vendler's Our Secret Discipline begins. Through exquisite attention to outer and inner forms, Vendler explores the most inventive reaches of the poet's mind. This book is a space-clearing gesture, an attempt to write about lyric forms in Yeats in unprecedented and comprehensive ways. The secret discipline of the poet is his vigilant attention to forms - whether generic, structural, or metrical. Yeats explores the potential of such forms to give shape and local habitation to volatile thoughts and feelings." "Helen Vendler remains focused on questions of singular importance: Why did Yeats cast his poems into the widely differing forms they ultimately took? Can we understand Yeats's poetry better if we pay attention to inner and outer lyric form? Chapters of the book take up many Yeatsian ventures, such as the sonnet, the ballad, the lyric sequence, paired poems, blank verse, and others. With elegance and precision, Vendler offers brilliant insights into the creative process and speculates on Yeats's aims as he writes and rewrites some of the most famous poems in modern literature."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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