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Poetic Rhythm: An Introduction by Derek…

Poetic Rhythm: An Introduction (edition 1996)

by Derek Attridge

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Title:Poetic Rhythm: An Introduction
Authors:Derek Attridge
Info:Cambridge University Press (1996), Edition: 1ST, Paperback, 296 pages
Collections:Your library

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Poetic Rhythm: An Introduction by Derek Attridge

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    The Poet's Manual and Rhyming Dictionary by Frances Stillman (Garzo)
    Garzo: No other book comes close to explaining how rhythm works in English-language poetry of all kinds.
  2. 00
    The Poetry Toolkit: The Essential Guide to Studying Poetry by Rhian Williams (Garzo)
    Garzo: No other book comes close to explaining how rhythm works in English-language poetry of all kinds.

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Poetic Rhythm is written by someone who knows what he is writing about: Attridge has analysed a lot of poetry in his time. I have read other books that attempt to explain poetic rhythm, metre, stresses, feet and the whole shebang, and they all look quite ridiculous after one has read Attridge. The basic point that makes the difference is the distinguishing of ‘stress’ from ‘beat’, where the former is the property of the vocabulary and phrasing, and the latter is a musical pulse that imposes itself when the stresses begin to line up. Poetic Rhythm has plenty of examples, and has exercises at the end of each chapter. In spite of this, it does not feel like a workbook or textbook, and I found myself drawn into the exercises to see if I could make them work. Reading Poetic Rhythm also encouraged me test out my new-learned skills in scansion on a stack of poems, enabling me to see more detail behind the rhythmic structure of poems.

Attridge's approach is that traditional ways of scanning and describing poems (iambic pentameter etc.) are only useful up to a point, so that it is about halfway through the book before he starts raising this terminology. His point is that we do not actually experience iambs and trochees and spondees when we read poetry, that these are artificial groupings of rhythmic patterns. In stead, Attridge teaches that we have to understand the history of what works in the poetic rhythm of the English language rather than trying to impose a faux-classicism on it. This approach is particularly rich when it comes to explaining all the metrical variations that might be used in syllable-stress metre (e.g. iambic pentameter) that allow greater freedom of expression without undermining the overall rhythm. Other books might just say that the odd iamb can be swapped for a trochee here and there to keep things interesting.

The book covers Anglo-Saxon alliterative verse (and some more recent attempts at it) and other less-strict stress metres; there is even a brief foray into rap. The chapter on free verse is perhaps understandably, yet also woefully, short. Basically, the book presents two rough rhythmical styles of free verse: using bits of traditional metre as building blocks, or not. It would have been good to have more of a survey of how different free-verse poets write the rhythm of their lines. This is the only blind spot, and Poetic Rhythm does, in fact, equip one with a more detailed approach to analysing free verse.

This book is a must for any poet, reader or critic of poetry. ( )
  Garzo | Feb 15, 2014 |
This is the most straightforward and practical introduction to metrical verse I've read, chiefly because it starts with the importance of beats in the poetic line and distinguishes them clearly from stresses. I wish I'd started with this book ten years ago. ( )
  idlerking | Mar 31, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0521423694, Paperback)

This is the first introduction to rhythm and meter that begins where students are: as speakers of English familiar with the rhythms of the spoken word, nursery rhymes, song and rap. Poetic Rhythm builds on this knowledge and experience, moving from basic questions about the rhythms of spoken English to the elaborate achievements of past and present poets. Terminology is straightforward and there are frequent practical exercises. Poetic Rhythm will help readers of English poetry experience and enjoy its power, subtlety and diversity, and will serve as an invaluable tool for those who write or discuss poetry in English.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:57 -0400)

Demetrius and Paula Ogglebutt have problem parents who are in a chronic state of war with each other, which ultimately forces the children devise a peace plan for the family.

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