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Sound and Sense: An Introduction to Poetry
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Sound and Sense: An Introduction to Poetry

3.91  ·  Rating Details ·  786 Ratings  ·  69 Reviews
Assigned more than any other introductory poetry text on the market
Hardcover, 6, 345 pages
Published June 30th 1973 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt P (first published 1956)
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Dec 14, 2012 Gemma rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Sound and Sense in a nutshell:

Poetry is deep and thought-provoking. Let me tell you exactly how and what you're supposed to think about it.

No, sorry, it doesn't work that way. Telling me what to think kills the process of allowing me to think for myself, and I feel like that defeats the point of poetry. A good poem can be seen in a number of lights, but telling me that only one is valid doesn't encourage me to dig deeper into the meaning of the poem.

Beyond the indoctrination, there are some go
Jun 07, 2013 Tiffany rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: school
Okay, so to be honest, two stars may be a little generous. As you can probably already tell, I greatly dislike this book. Sure, it might take you by the hand and lead you through a vast number and variety of poems. However, the book has exactly one interpretation for each poem and if you don't nail it exactly, you get penalized (in AP lit). Moreover, finding answers to the questions presented in the book is quite difficult. It's not in the back of the book and it's not easy to find on the intern ...more
Stephan Anstey
It's a bit dry, but tons of great poems. I really like how they go over meter, it's one of the better tutorials on the matter. I don't particularly love the organization of the book, and I really wish there were a bit more on each poet - more than the years they lived. My favorite part of the book are the guiding questions. Very helpful as you try to breakdown and understand a poem.

The most offensive thing to me was the little dissertation on how a poem is determined to be 'great.' There is an i
Jun 17, 2011 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The ultimate user's manual for reading poetry.
Dec 10, 2010 Doug rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What I liked most about this book, compared to other instructive books of poetry, is the selection of formalist poetry. Granted, it seemed like half of it was Emily Dickinson (and I'm not even sure if that's an exaggeration to be honest) but that's okay because Emily Dickinson had some great poems and her layers are often friendly to the understanding. This book offers a very intensive introduction to how it intends to appraise the poems which makes it great for anyone new to poetry, as well as ...more
Tamsin Barlow
Jul 06, 2014 Tamsin Barlow rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is good every once in a while to read a text book, to stretch yourself beyond your usual comfortable limits, to give yourself homework. And, among all the books you are reading, to have a book of poetry to pop into now and then-- just to wake you from your drowsy comfort.
Randy Cauthen
How did this get to be the standard text? The dude's taste is dubious, his ear is dubious, and he's not a poet.
Xenophon Hendrix
Dec 07, 2009 Xenophon Hendrix rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is suitable for self-teaching for those who want to learn more about poetry.
Sasha (whispersofthesilentwind)
Note: required reading

I hate the break down of poetry.. This was an alright book, a little long with reading all the poems at the end of each chapter.
Feb 01, 2011 Lief rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a very good book for teaching the elements of poetry and how to explicate poems. I only have two complaints about the book--at times I think the authors could have gone into a little more detail in their definitions before presenting poems to look at, and they don't entirely understand sarcasm as they feel its only purpose is to tear down in one way or another. Otherwise, it is organized in such a way that it focuses the reader on the important issues of poems first (i.e. meaning) and on ...more
Jul 13, 2008 Jason rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sound and Sense is a classic introductory to poetry that many of you might have encountered in high school or college. I recently found my copy from high school and was reviewing it just to refresh my knowledge of poetry terms.

Although books like this can often drain the joy out of reading poetry, the commentary is pretty interesting and insightful. Aside from the educational aspect of the work, the collection of poems in the book is sensational. While I don't know that I'd go pay $85 for the n
J. Alfred
May 23, 2012 J. Alfred rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Despite some questionable New-Critical bias, this is nevertheless the most informative book on the theory of poetry I've ever read. It comes with an interesting selection of poems, divides nicely into chapters and is downright helpful with definitions, and has come the closest of anything (teachers included) I've ever come across to helping me understand versification and scansion-- not just the terminology involved, that is, but as a tool for helping one understand and appreciate poems. I recom ...more
Oct 25, 2007 Dini rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
This was the poetry bible for first-year students in my English major. Very useful, especially for those who need guidance in understanding poetry, like me for instance ;P Those questions at the end of each poem, I can't tell you how much that helped me form some semblance of interpretation. I just found my copy of this book (actually it's my sister's copy, I used her old books for class) among other books that I forgot I still have, so I guess it would be useful whenever I feel the need for som ...more
Dec 17, 2013 Katie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Yes, it's didactic. Yes, the explanations are ridiculously pretentious. Yes, it should include more Eliot. But on the whole, a very worthy collection of poetry. I'd personally drop some and add some others. The explanations can be lengthy but it truly has some interesting [again, so pretentious but also interesting] things to say about poetry. It's a hard subject for a textbook, I think. And as far as textbooks go, I nearly enjoyed reading it all.
I say well done.
Emily Hunsaker
May 20, 2008 Emily Hunsaker rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ok, I admit it... I'm a poetry nerd. This is a collection of poems that I read in my AP English class, and I now own a copy. I LOVE it. Classics from Shakespeare, Sylvia Plath, Emily Dickinson, John Donne, etc. It's nice to have a collection of so many different poets around when I feel like being deep and analytical.
Jan 01, 2008 W.B. rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
How many versions of this exist? I'm guessing tons. God, I cut my teeth on anthologies like this...back in the day when they would put rock lyrics in here by the Beatles and the Rolling Stones to try to add "hip interest." Not trying to be elitist, but some of it was really laughingly bad....and the one by Xavier Kennedy...that was just one cut above this lowly bottomfeeder anthology....
Jan 20, 2015 Renuka rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
A really nice collection of poems, neatly grouped to guide the reader/student. Really helpful for a poetry novice. But, a little dull, and occasionally, a little overwhelming with the sheer number of poems it offers. Also, it's a little traditionalist, sometimes focusing on a very narrow interpretation of the poem, but again, it serves as a nice introduction to the poetry world.
Jan 06, 2011 Sharon rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read this for AP English. Highly informative, with some great poems - my favorites are "Pathedy of Manners" and "Music Lessons." However, the language was openly worshipful of poetry. Perhaps only to be expected, considering that the book is an introduction to poetry, but the gushing fondness was rather unhappy.
May 18, 2012 Leo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you are looking for a straight-forward, no-nonsense, honest and real "introduction to poetry"...this is the book for you. It is excellent in every way. Every chapter progresses naturally from the next. The poetry used is top-notch, perfectly complimenting each "lesson". It is a pleasure to read, an educational joy, and a beautiful doorway into the world of poetry.
Sep 12, 2015 Fachrina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who want to learn more about poetry, literature lovers
Recommended to Fachrina by: my Poetry lecturer
Read this book as the textbook for my Poetry class. Extremely useful and easily understandable for people who find poetry difficult (and intimidating.) The book also provides questions that help you to understand and analyse the poems, along with some background information about the poems and poets.
Sep 15, 2009 Abrahamus rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
A fabulous guide to the appreciation of poetry in general, and a wonderful companion to and commentary on some of the best poetry and poets in the English language—both old and new, lofty and whimsical. A delightful and invaluable literary companion and reference.
Pierre Corneille
Aug 16, 2008 Pierre Corneille rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This anthology/introduction to poetry is quite rigorous. I read it in high school and got quite a lot out of it. I would normally give it five stars....

....but the high school teacher who assigned it was a jerk. Therefore, I'm going to give it one star.

Jan 17, 2012 Christian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've read several chapters out of this. I plan to finish it, but at the moment, my favorite part is the enormous amount of poetry. Every chapter has a dozen or more examples of great poetry that exhibits the qualities described in the chapter.
Diana Tran
Apr 18, 2013 Diana Tran rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: textbook
I read it for ap lit so wasn't so into it from the beginning. Although, I do appreciate the lessons on understanding poetry more. I'm not so averted to poetry as I used to be and I do like some of the poems in there. Not my cup of tea.
Sep 27, 2007 Soheil rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lovely book with a great compilation of work by the masters and a few unknowns. A touch too judgmental by modern standards,so new readers of poetry need to take its advice with more than a little pinch of salt:)
Lauren Fidler
fairly standard, fairly dry intro to poetry. some lofty philosophical questions mixed with some pragmatic approaches to the study of one of the more complex literary types.

excellent collection of poems, if that matters.
Allen Rizzi
Jun 22, 2016 Allen Rizzi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have always considered this book to be the best in its class for teaching introductory poetry. I read it in college as a freshman and use it still today to teach basic poetry concepts. It's a great text and the poems chosen for inclusion clearly illustrate the author points. Excellent!
Mary Drew
Would like to read it but it really is a textbook. I need more than self-motivation, I guess. I do want to know more about poetry. I did read enough to know that I don't always agree with the author.
Jul 28, 2013 StarszBooks rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Reading for a graduate level class and it is truly amazing. I have acquired a liking for poetry after reading this book! And I really have read this entire book!
Kigongo Benon
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