The Sounds of Poetry: A Brief Guide

Robert Pinsky
Published in 1999
by Farrar, Straus and Giroux

“The hearing-knowledge we bring to a line of poetry is a knowledge of patterns in speech we have known to hear since we were infants,” writes Robert Pinsky in the introduction to this poetry handbook with the intention to “enhance the reader’s pleasure in poetry through knowledge of a few basic principles and their tremendous effects.” Organized into five sections—“Accent and Duration,” “Syntax and Line,” “Technical Terms and Vocal Realities,” “Like and Unlike Sounds,” and “Blank Verse and Free Verse”—the former U.S. poet laureate guides the reader through the natural inflections of the English language, breaking down the effects these distinct sounds have on the experience of reading poetry. Meant for readers and poets of all levels, this guidebook of poetry not only takes on the task of explaining, in an accessible way, the music in poetry, but also includes a handy glossary of terms with accompanying examples that begs revisiting. 

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