A new book co-authored by Professor Michael O’Neill offers an understanding of how poetic form functions within literary history and in individual poems.
Written with Dr Michael D. Hurley (University of Cambridge), Poetic Form: An Introduction offers an inclusive and satisfying way of understanding poetic form and its implications. What is new about Poetic Form is that, throughout, it shows form in aesthetic action.
As the authors observe in the introduction, form is often seen in contrast to content as being “meekly submissive or ornamental.” However, Poetic Form demonstrates that the form of a poem fundamentally shapes and animates its meaning: form is “the spirit which gives life to the body of content, that without which poetry cannot exist.” Poetic Form is not so much interested in mapping, classifying, and listing as it is in showing how form operates imaginatively.
“Form is a poem’s principle of life”
Introduction, Poetic Form
Lively and wide-ranging, the book includes a long chapter on the elements of form that throws new light on troubling terms such as rhythm and metre, as well as a detailed introduction and accessible, stimulating chapters on lyric, the sonnet, elegy, epic, soliloquy, dramatic monologue and ballad and narrative. It explores these issues through readings of poetry and dramatic verse, from Geoffrey Chaucer and William Shakespeare to W.B. Yeats, Robert Frost, and Paul Muldoon.
Poetic Form: An Introduction is published by Cambridge University Press.