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Poetic Meter and Poetic Form

3.9  ·  Rating Details ·  504 Ratings  ·  31 Reviews
Paperback: 190 pages
Publisher: McGraw-Hill Humanities/Social Sciences/Languages; Revised edition (January 1, 1979)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0075536064
ISBN-13: 978-0075536062
Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.3 x 8.2 inches
Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
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Paperback, 208 pages
Published January 1st 1979 by McGraw-Hill Education (first published 1965)
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Shane Zimmer
Apr 17, 2014 Shane Zimmer rated it it was amazing
As a novice to the study of meter and form, I found this book interesting, accessible and illuminating. I haven't enough knowledge on the subject yet to agree or disagree with him point by point, but his passion for the study reads clear and his articulation of the ideas becomes quickly lucid. I would equate him with a professor who introduces his students to a new discipline and rather than bore them with academese, he sparks their interest with his enthusiasm and intelligence.
Revisiting the classic! Worth the respect due our elders, who will always have worked harder than we and proceeded more responsibly in structuring knowledge.

That said, I did laugh at a number of lines--PF is quite witty, yes, but I laughed as much at some of the sheer pluck of schematic meaning assignation and then of concomitant evaluative gouging: "What he produces is very nice, but his stanza surely lacks the dense organism that attaches to a permanent poem."

What intrigues me here is the sens
May 17, 2008 Andrew rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, non-fiction
Split into two main sections, Meter and Form (per the title). The meter section was useful, but, as another reviewer here has stated, suffers from a glut of examples. It drags on a bit.
I found the form section the better of the two: discussions of line, rhyme, stanza, and a selection of standard forms, such as the sonnet (of course).
Feb 20, 2008 Dawn rated it liked it
Helpful but no imperative. A good explanation of prosody (without getting too lofty) and decent source for examples. I used the book to help my students scan poems better. *NOTE* The chapter on free verse is garbage.
Oct 05, 2007 Lisa rated it liked it
Pretty good on the fixed forms (which I should know MUCH more about considering my profession). Utterly dismissive of anything innovative post-WW2. Sometimes this contempt is valid, sometimes not.
Joel Zartman
Jun 19, 2013 Joel Zartman rated it it was amazing
Fussell explains in this book the effects achieved with meter both with forms and with free verse. He wants to help us understand how the poetry that we return to works upon us. The sentence, he reminds us, forms the basis of prose; the sentence and the line form the basis of poetry, and he explains how meter is the way the line’s length is determined. This determination is not arbitrary, but has to do with how modern English sounds—how our words are emphasized and the possibilities the language ...more
stephanie roberts
Jun 15, 2015 stephanie roberts rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: serious poets, creative writing teachers, neophyte poets
Recommended to stephanie by:
Shelves: faves, poetry, on-writing
During the course of a recent poetry workshop, I read a recommendation, for this book, that called it the best guide on metered verse and poetic form, of its kind. Previous to starting this book, I'd been wading through a book on syntax in poetry (which I continue to–sad to say) that I find almost incomprehensible because of an over-reliance on academic jargon at such a density that I feel almost as though it is written in a foreign language.

There is no worry here about such nonsense or that an
Leisha Wharfield
Jul 24, 2008 Leisha Wharfield rated it it was amazing
"What is wanted is the closest possible approximation of absolute density. For the texture of a poem must be dense: when old-fashioned critics assert that in a poem every vein must be rifted with ore, that is what, in their quaint way, they mean."

Urban density is what our exalted elders decided upon for Eugene: establishment of an urban growth boundary to salvage the farmlands, wetlands, wild places beyond. But the Amazon headwaters fall within the urban growth boundary, so now--how to save them
Jan 12, 2015 Jason rated it it was amazing
An excellent introduction to the conventions of poetry, which are subtle and probably more mysterious to most people than those of, say, film or photography. Fussell so clearly articulates how meter and metrical variations contribute to a poem’s meaning that readers might leave feeling empowered with something like x-ray vision: the anatomy of poetry is made visible. In the book’s second half, Fussell offers useful history and context for various poetic forms, and shows how each serves specific ...more
I don't always agree with some of Fussell's pronouncements, but on the whole he gives a very nice introduction to the principles of prosody. The book's precision is one of it's great strengths, but it can also be a weakness on occasion when it leads to black and white depictions of things that are not so clear-cut. For anyone who is able to occasionally disagree with Fussell without feeling like those points of disagreement invalidate everything else, this book can a wonderful tool for any write ...more
Mar 26, 2007 Mike rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
Fussell has a good grip on basic forms, especially within the world of formal (i.e. metrical and/or rhymed) verse, and if you don't know about the subject, he'll educate you. That said, there are two main problems, to my mind. The lesser one is a glut of examples, which tend to beat a dead horse -- we get it, Paul, enough already. The greater problem is Fussell's obvious distaste for free verse. Sure, he devotes a bit of time to it, but it reads as if it's out of obligation, and as if he really ...more
Jun 08, 2015 Σς rated it really liked it
Insightful and fair. I am a form hawk, and unsympathetic to the pretentious of free verse. Fussell manages to argue convincingly for form's indispensability without giving in to acrimony. He is able to acknowledge, and even bring out the successes of some free verse (Yeats above all, who "broods over the Twentieth Century"), even while doing so. This little book is everything that contemporary poetry is not: lucid, limpid, meaningful, erudite, civilized.
Jun 25, 2012 Pippa rated it it was amazing
Shelves: prosody
This book was my first teacher in the world of prosody. I thought it was all very clearly explained, and was the only book like it as far as I could discover. Of course Stephen Fry has now written 'The Ode less Travelled' but the two books, although overlapping at times, do complement each other and I recommend reading both.
Jan 31, 2011 John rated it it was amazing
a treasure forever. a bit fussy at times, and clearly there's a reason fussell is a theorist and a historian and not an actual critic, as his insights into poetry can often be touchingly facile. however, for anyone looking to write, or read, poetry, it contains a wealth of information in a fairly easy to digest format. rare for prosodic theory!
Sherry Chandler
Sep 09, 2008 Sherry Chandler rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: students of formal poetry
I found this book, which was first published in 1966 I think, pretty conservative, not to say stodgy. Not an easy read, but I did discover some valuable ways to look at formal poetry. I hope I will be able to internalize them.
Michael Gossett
Sep 15, 2011 Michael Gossett rated it really liked it
This book gives me a language to put to several of my natural poetry-reading instincts and heightened my sensitivity to sound. Going through something like this separates poetry scholars from poetry enjoyers--a good thing for an MFA to read, learn, and practice.
Aug 27, 2015 Maggie rated it really liked it
Clear, in-depth look at formal components of meter and form. Especially helpful if you can ignore sexist and sometimes rude commentary.
Heather June Gibbons
Aug 20, 2008 Heather June Gibbons rated it really liked it
Indispensable. Wish I could find a reasonably priced copy of this-- it's out of print, and the library made me give it back.
Julie - Book Hooked Blog
I never would have learned how to scan poetry without this book. Intensely boring, but lots of good information on writing and scanning poetry.
Kendall McKenzie
Dec 03, 2010 Kendall McKenzie rated it it was ok
As a poet, I did take some notes while reading this, but Fussell's arrogance and verbose approach to the subject was simply insulting.
Clarence Cromwell
Sep 25, 2012 Clarence Cromwell rated it it was amazing
This is the book that helped me to understand metric verse. It will make you a properly functioning poet.
Jan 21, 2008 J.R. rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Paul is a romantic born in the wrong decade. He presents some compelling arguments for the use of rhyme in modern poetry but understand the movement away from it. A clear and concise read.
Haines Eason
Haines Eason rated it liked it
Dec 10, 2012
Kevin Andre Elliott
Kevin Andre Elliott rated it really liked it
Dec 04, 2007
Benjamin Dull
Benjamin Dull rated it it was amazing
Jan 11, 2013
Scott Wiggerman
Scott Wiggerman rated it really liked it
Sep 08, 2012
Pedro rated it it was amazing
Jul 21, 2014
Robert Chiniquy
Robert Chiniquy rated it it was amazing
Jan 10, 2008
M. Sarki
M. Sarki rated it liked it
Jun 22, 2012
Steve Owen
Steve Owen rated it it was amazing
Oct 04, 2008
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Paul Fussell was an American cultural and literary historian, author and university professor. His writings covered a variety of topics, from scholarly works on eighteenth-century English literature to commentary on America’s class system. He was an U.S. Army Infantry officer in the European theater during World War II (103rd U.S. Infantry Division) and was awarded both the Bronze Star and the Pur ...more
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