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Publisher's Summary

Poetry doesn’t matter to most people, observes Jay Parini at the opening of this book. But, undeterred, he commences a deeply felt meditation on poetry, its language and meaning, and its power to open minds and transform lives. By the end of the book, Parini has recovered a truth often obscured by our clamorous culture: without poetry, we live only partially, not fully conscious of the possibilities that life affords. Poetry indeed matters.

A gifted poet and acclaimed teacher, Parini begins by looking at defenses of poetry written over the centuries. He ponders Aristotle, Horace, and Longinus, and moves on through Sidney, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Shelley, Eliot, Frost, Stevens, and others. Parini examines the importance of poetic voice and the mysteries of metaphor. He argues that a poet’s originality depends on a deep understanding of the traditions of political poetry, nature poetry, and religious poetry.

©2008 Yale University Press (P)2008 Yale University Press

Critic Reviews

"If you are going to tell Jay Parini that poetry doesn't matter, you should probably start working on your debate points now-he's got a lot more." (Burlington Free Press)

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One of the best defenses of poetry...

Well written and well read with engagement and intellectual enthusiasm. Though I would recommend that the reader practice his pronunciation of Chaucer and Dante a little more. But generally excellent all-around.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Annett
  • 09-04-10

Explains the rudimentary and then some

An impassioned and lucidly argued defence of poetry that I especially recommend to undergraduate English students, or indeed anyone interested in language and writing, as a rollercoaster introduction to a sadly neglected art form.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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