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The Secret Life of Poems: A Poetry Primer

The Secret Life of Poems A Poetry Primer The Secret Life of Poems is a primer which offers a poem or on occasion an excerpt on the left hand page together with facing commentary Rhythm form metre sources are the order of the day not eth

  • Title: The Secret Life of Poems: A Poetry Primer
  • Author: Tom Paulin
  • ISBN: 9780571226344
  • Page: 318
  • Format: Hardcover
  • The Secret Life of Poems is a primer which offers a poem or on occasion an excerpt on the left hand page, together with facing commentary Rhythm, form, metre, sources are the order of the day, not ethical commentary or descriptive paraphrase This brief engagement with 45 poems seeks to explain how poetry works by bringing into view the hidden order of specific poems.

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    1 thought on “The Secret Life of Poems: A Poetry Primer

    1. The extent to which you’re likely to enjoy Tom Paulin’s The Secret Life of Poems depends entirely on what you’re hoping to get out of it. If you’re looking for a “poetry primer” (as the book is billed), that breaks down every poem into its minute component parts – its trochees, cretics, molossus, feet, and labials – and explains why they are so arranged, the book is likely to be a useful, and possibly enlightening, tool.If, on the other hand, you’re looking for something that m [...]

    2. Paulin proceeds without prelude to his purpose; an illumination of meanings and mechanisms of poems spanning hundreds of years, many sharing his Irish heritage. He reflects on the effects of acoustic patterns and the physicality of reading, as well as on biographical episodes and contextual detail ranging across politics and literatureI learned so much from this book, about poetry, history and the English language. Paulin's insight into the sophistication of works by the likes of DH Lawrence dis [...]

    3. Sometimes interesting, sometimes painfully pedantic notes about the minute mechanics of poems. Also sometimes really bizarrely tangential. What strikes me most, though, is the massive Maleness of this book. 37 male poets (about 8 of them called John); 2 female and one anonymous. Of the two female poets, Paulin's chosen poems from Dickinson and Christina Rosetti about their sexual thoughts/feelings about men. Thus this is the first book I've read that fails the Bechdel test, which it does spectac [...]

    4. Somewhere, I imagine, there are musicologists whose detailed knowledge of their subject is so deep that on hearing Beethoven's late quartets their minds see nothing other than musical notation. The emotive nature of the music has long since passed them by.Such thoughts came to mind on reading this rather strange, and ultimately very disappointing book by Tom Paulin. It's not the worst poetry companion I've read, but it comes a very close second. Paulin knows his poems with a knowledge of meter, [...]

    5. I'd been wanting to read this book for some time under the delusion that "A Poetry Primer" on the cover meant something. I don't know much about Tom Paulin although I have dim recollections of seeing him contribute to the post-pub TV review programme.I am reluctantly giving up because I have realised the book is not going to give me what I wanted, a better understanding of the techniques poets use nor anything I need and ploughing on would merely be an act of completism and a good deal of it wou [...]

    6. There are some poems in this book that I'll never read the same again: To Autumn being the one that springs to mind. There'll be others that I'll soon forget I've ever read, especially the earliest and latest poems. (Maybe that's my mindset, though.)I've already noticed a change in my analytic style due to this book, particularly in noticing metre and the sounds of words: this book is fab for that and as a tool of analysis. Some of Paulin's specific points are a bit tenuous for me, though. Not s [...]

    7. An excellent selection of poetry, with informative if a little dry commentary from Mr Paulin. The commentary was only marred intermittently by the critic's crime of over-analysis; really I believe they overdo it at times. Mr Paulin seems particularly to see things sexual which I'm sure aren't really there in the poems. But still a useful discussion of how poems work and, as I say, a great selection of works.

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