Sunday, 3 March 2013

An Introduction to English Poetry – James Fenton 2003

Short, simple book: it does what it says on the tin.

„The iambic line, with its characteristic forward movement from short to long, or light to heavy, or unstressed to stressed, is the quintessential measure of English verse.“ (Fenton, 2003, p.39).

„The four foot iambic line is a great device, and has been used by the poet desirous of greater speed and more emphatic rhythm.“ (Fenton, 2003, p.53).

„In an inflected language such as Italian, a word may rhyme simply because it has the same grammatical form as another, simply because it terminates in –ato or –ando or –are (these are all feminine rhymes).“ (Fenton, 2003, p.67). „In English poetry, with ist reliance on masculine rhymes, rhymes themselves are harder to find, and they have a rather higher degree of significance.“ (Fenton, 2003, p.67).

„When there are more than eight lines in a stanza, something very grand is being attempted or achieved.“ (Fenton, 2003, p.71).

„At fourteen lines in iambic pentameters, the sonnet is slightly too long to be considered as a stanza. (...) and although a sonnet sequence could have an overarching narrative, a poem made up of sonnets would still feel like a poem made up of poems, rather than stanzas.
The Petrarchan sonnet, which ist he sonnet in ist classic form, tends to split into two sctions, known as octave and sestet. (...) a-b-b-a-a-b-b-a (...) c-d-e-c-d-e.“ (Fenton, 2003, p.77).

„What the reader or listener wants to know is how the poet is going to come up with the rhymes for Fiji – we do not go to this text for information about Gauguin or his art, or indeed for a witty observation about Gauguin, since the poem isn’t about him. It is about rhyming.“ (Fenton, 2003, p.82).

„In consequence, a poem that rhymes becomes easier to remember than one that doesn’t. Rhyme is a mnemonic device, an aid to the memory. And some poems are themselves mnemonics, that is to say the whole purpose of the poem ist o enable us to remember some information. So if poetry is supposed tob e memorable speech, it is worth bearing in mind that rhyme aids ist memorability.“ (Fenton, 2003, p.97).

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