Poetic Closure: A Study of How Poems End

Barbara Herrnstein Smith
Published in 2007
by University of Chicago Press

“There is a distinction, however, between concluding and merely stopping or ceasing. The ringing of a telephone, the blowing of the wind, the babbling of an infant in its crib: these stop. A poem or a piece of music concludes,” writes Barbara Herrnstein Smith in this collection of essays examining the relationship between closure and the overall structure and integrity of a poem. Smith breaks down the techniques and craft elements behind some of twentieth century’s most celebrated poems by writers such as Emily Dickinson, Thomas Hardy, Stanley Kunitz, Dylan Thomas, and William Butler Yeats to exemplify elements of prosody present in these works. The book concludes with a section on the problems of closures, including chapters titled “Failures of Closure” and “Closure and Anti-Closure in Modern Poetry,” leaving readers with new questions and possibilities to carry forward into their own writing process.  


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