Poetry's Touch: On Lyric Address (Hardback)William Waters (author)
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To whom does a poem speak? Do poems really communicate with those they address? Is reading poems like overhearing? Like intimate conversation? Like performing a script? William Waters pursues these questions by closely reading a selection of poems that say "you" to a human being: to the reader, to the beloved, or to the dead. In any account of reading lyric poetry, Waters argues, there will be places where the participant roles of speaker, intended hearer, and bystander melt together or away; these are moments of wonder.Looking both at poetry's "you" and at how readers encounter it, Waters asserts that poetic address shows literature pressing for a close relation with those into whose hands it may fall. What is at stake for us as readers and critics is our ability to acknowledge the claims made on us by the works of art with which we engage. In second-person poems, in a poem's touch, we may come to see why poetry matters to us, and how we, in turn, come to feel answerable to it. Poetry's Touch takes as a central thread the poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke, a writer whose work is unusually self-conscious about poetic address. The book also draws examples from a gamut of European and American poems, ranging from archaic Greek inscriptions to Keats, Dickinson, and Ashbery.
Publisher: Cornell University Press
Number of pages: 192
Weight: 425 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 21 mm
"More than just a clearly written investigation of modes of address in lyric poetry and their effects, Poetry's Touch explores the power of lyric to engage the reader, to touch us, achieving considerable eloquence in its arguments about how and why this happens. Shrewd and well informed, the book is a major advance in our thinking about poetics and will be a constant reference point for future discussions."-- Jonathan Culler, Cornell University
"This is a beautiful book: versed in the poetry of several languages, sharply observant, deeply pondered, eloquently and engagingly composed. In evoking his reader's experience of a poem, William Waters brings about a critical transaction of exceptional force and depth. Furthermore, as a side effect of the thoughtfully planned sequence of his readings, he achieves a kind of anthological multiplication of poetic force: his samples become fresh contexts for one another, resonant with one another's distinct yet kindred performances."-- Herbert Tucker, University of Virginia
"Waters... offers an impressive and creative book about how nineteenth- and twentieth-century poets in the US and Europe address the reader with their lyrics. He lays out a strong argument against the view... that the poet in the lyric tradition turns his back to the audience.... Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty."* Choice *
"William Waters cuts to the heart of things with seeming ease-helping us understand, in this case, how lyric poetry reaches out to real human beings. Original, perceptive, and wonderfully engaging, his book is sure to become one of the standard works on the problem of poetic address."-- Judith Ryan, Harvard University
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