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VENDLER, Helen (Hennessy) 1933-

See more. Helen Vendler. In Last Looks, Last Books, the eminent critic Helen Vendler examines the ways in which five great modern American poets, writing their final books, try to find a style that does justice to life and death alike. With traditional religious consolations no longer available to them, these poets must invent new ways to express the crisis of death, as well as the paradoxical coexistence of a declining body and an undiminished consciousness.

In The Rock, Wallace Stevens writes simultaneous narratives of winter and spring; in Ariel, Sylvia Plath sustains melodrama in cool formality; and in Day by Day, Robert Lowell subtracts from plenitude.

Poets Thinking - Helen Vendler - Häftad () | Bokus

The solution for one poet will not serve for another; each must invent a bridge from an old style to a new one. Casting a last look at life as they contemplate death, these modern writers enrich the resources of lyric poetry. Walt Whitman. His work was very controversial in its time, particularly his poetry collection Leaves of Grass, which was described as obscene for its overt sexuality.

George Herbert. Seamus Heaney Text Only. A dazzling short assessment of the life and work of the poet and winner of the Nobel Prize for literature. San Francisco Chronicle In her challenging and entertaining new book, Poets Thinking, Helen Vendler argues that poetry in all its manifestations, however ostensibly irrational, is a mode of thinking that commands not just our aesthetic appreciation but also our intellectual respect Vendler is a wonderful elucidator of individual poems. Nobody writes more insightfully about a poem's stylistic armature, and the emotional and intellectual purposes that armature serves.

And by examining the distinctive strategies of thinking in the work of such radically different poets as Pope, Whitman, Dickinson, and Yeats, Vendler makes visible aspects of style and language that other critics simply haven't seen. Vendler engages in close reading to find a poem's distinctiveness of language and literary form Vendler is really trying to enlarge our idea of what poetry can be In reminding us to look at and listen to the actual words on the page, and not to leap too soon to some hackneyed idea that they recall, Vendler invites us to expand our own response to experience.

Vendler is exceptionally skilled at demonstrating that poetry offers us pictures of the mind at work rather than settled axioms to take away Vendler's own voice is that rare academic combination of expertise and accommodation Her arguments provide ample explanation and exempla for the lay reader while provoking the academic to revisit old assumptions. She is at ease with the broad sweep of American and English poetry and with the critical methods of the last half-century. Her conclusions seem remarkably self-evident, a voice of trustworthiness and reason that encourages us to lean closer, to listen carefully.


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Poetry has often been considered an irrational genre, more expressive than logical, more meditative than given to coherent argument. And yet, in each of the four very different poets she considers here, Helen Vendler reveals a style of thinking in operation; although they may prefer different means, she argues, all poets of any value are thinkers.

The four poets taken up in this volume--Alexander Pope, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, and William Butler Yeats--come from three centuries and three nations, and their styles of thinking are characteristically idiosyncratic. Vendler shows us Pope performing as a satiric miniaturizer, remaking in verse the form of the essay, Whitman writing as a poet of repetitive insistence for whom thinking must be followed by rethinking, Dickinson experimenting with plot to characterize life's unfolding, and Yeats thinking in images, using montage in lieu of argument.