A History of Free Verse

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University of Arkansas Press, Jan 1, 2001 - Poetry - 285 pages
This book examines the most salient and misunderstood aspect of twentieth-century poetry, free verse. Although the form is generally approached as if it were one indissoluble lump, it is actually a group of differing poetic genres proceeding from much different assumptions. Separate chapters on T.S. Eliot, Wallace Stevens, H.D., and William Carlos Williams elucidate many of these assumptions and procedures, while other chapters address more general theoretical questions and trace the continuity of Modern poetics in contemporary poetry. Taking a historical and aesthetic approach, this study demonstrates that many of the forms considered to have been invented in the Modern period actually extend underappreciated traditions. Not only does this book examine the classical influence on Modern poetry, it also features discussions of the poetics of John Milton, Abraham Cowley, Matthew Arnold, and a host of lesser-known poets. Throughout it is an investigation of the prosodic issues that free verse foregrounds, particularly those focusing on the reader's part in interpreting poetic rhythm.

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Contents

The Problem of Free Verse
13
The Loose Tradition in Verse from Cowley to Eliot
61
The Haunting of Wallace Stevens
101
Straight Talk Straight as the Greeks
135
The Parsing Meter and Beyond
179
Avoiding Prosody?
223
Notes
237
Works Cited
255
Index
273
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About the author (2001)

Chris Beyers is currently an assistant professor at Assumption College in Massachusetts where he teaches literature, composition, and poetry. A History of Free Verse is Beyers's first published book.

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