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“The work of great poetry is to aid us to become free artists of ourselves.” –Harold Bloom In The Art of Reading Poetry, Harold Bloom gives us his critical reflections on more than a half century devoted to reading, teaching, and writing about great verse, the literary achievements he loves most, and conveys his passionate concern for how a poem should be interpreted and ap “The work of great poetry is to aid us to become free artists of ourselves.” –Harold Bloom In The Art of Reading Poetry, Harold Bloom gives us his critical reflections on more than a half century devoted to reading, teaching, and writing about great verse, the literary achievements he loves most, and conveys his passionate concern for how a poem should be interpreted and appreciated. By illuminating such subjects as poetic voice, metaphor and allusion, and the nature of poetic value itself, Bloom presents an invaluable learning tool as a key to artistic expression.


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“The work of great poetry is to aid us to become free artists of ourselves.” –Harold Bloom In The Art of Reading Poetry, Harold Bloom gives us his critical reflections on more than a half century devoted to reading, teaching, and writing about great verse, the literary achievements he loves most, and conveys his passionate concern for how a poem should be interpreted and ap “The work of great poetry is to aid us to become free artists of ourselves.” –Harold Bloom In The Art of Reading Poetry, Harold Bloom gives us his critical reflections on more than a half century devoted to reading, teaching, and writing about great verse, the literary achievements he loves most, and conveys his passionate concern for how a poem should be interpreted and appreciated. By illuminating such subjects as poetic voice, metaphor and allusion, and the nature of poetic value itself, Bloom presents an invaluable learning tool as a key to artistic expression.

30 review for The Art of Reading Poetry

  1. 4 out of 5

    Evan Leach

    This essay - originally published as the introduction to The Best Poems of the English Language - was republished as a stand-alone paperback in 2005. Harold Bloom, the Sterling Professor of Humanities at Yale University, has been publishing literary criticism for over 50 years and is perhaps best known for his writings on Shakespeare and The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages. Highly intelligent and even more opinionated, Bloom isn't for everyone. However, even his critics have to co This essay - originally published as the introduction to The Best Poems of the English Language - was republished as a stand-alone paperback in 2005. Harold Bloom, the Sterling Professor of Humanities at Yale University, has been publishing literary criticism for over 50 years and is perhaps best known for his writings on Shakespeare and The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages. Highly intelligent and even more opinionated, Bloom isn't for everyone. However, even his critics have to concede that he is extraordinarily well read, and I largely enjoy his work even if I don't always agree with every single thing he has to say. Poetry is Bloom's favorite form of literary expression, so getting inside his head for 50 pages and listening to him lecture is an interesting (and entertaining exercise). Bloom's writings range from the relatively basic (for newer readers) to the highly complex. This introductory essay leans toward the basic side, so for readers who know a lot about poetry, much of this will be a refresher course. Still, even veteran poetry students will likely find something of interest here, and I would definitely recommend it to less experienced readers looking to explore poetics in more depth. Personally, I felt like I learned from this book and gained a deeper understanding of the poetic art. 4 stars, recommended.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Ian

    Bloom is a brilliant critic and usually a competent writer, but this short work is an example of neither one nor the other. It's completely disorganized, has trouble making points and is not particularly instructive about the art of reading poetry (perhaps a job best left to actual poets). Bloom is a brilliant critic and usually a competent writer, but this short work is an example of neither one nor the other. It's completely disorganized, has trouble making points and is not particularly instructive about the art of reading poetry (perhaps a job best left to actual poets).

  3. 4 out of 5

    John David

    While Harold Bloom might be able to artfully expatiate upon the tragic flaws of various and sundry Shakespeare heroes, he commits one of his own here: he hasn’t the faintest idea of his audience. Too sophisticated for a tyro and a mere introduction for anyone that attended sophomore English, Bloom commits the ultimate act of literary hamartia – which, staying true to the Aristotelian spirit of tragedy, he doesn’t realize. Bloom begins by noting that poetry is essentially figurative speech, going While Harold Bloom might be able to artfully expatiate upon the tragic flaws of various and sundry Shakespeare heroes, he commits one of his own here: he hasn’t the faintest idea of his audience. Too sophisticated for a tyro and a mere introduction for anyone that attended sophomore English, Bloom commits the ultimate act of literary hamartia – which, staying true to the Aristotelian spirit of tragedy, he doesn’t realize. Bloom begins by noting that poetry is essentially figurative speech, going on to further note (smartly) that prosaic speech is figuration, too, but figuration whose immediacy as such as been lost. For a large portion of the volume, he reads several poems through the lens of Kenneth Burke’s understanding of the four figurative tropes: irony, synecdoche, metonymy, and metaphor. Do you already know what these words mean? Assuming that you do (I’m guessing that most people who don’t wouldn’t know who Harold Bloom is), the vast majority of this book will be nothing new. Bloom does manage to make some interesting points about the roles of allusion and intertextuality in poetry, giving examples of how some poems consciously mimic others stylistically (the scorn he heaps upon the “self-pitying and metrically maladroit” Poe is hilarious). He ends the book with the consideration that poetry is basically an exercise in which we encounter, in the words of Owen Barfield, “in contact with a different kind of consciousness from our own,” which Bloom construes as a sort of cognitive “strangeness.” This definition, while perhaps already glaringly obvious to the serious reader of poetry, has always rung true with me. The strangeness of this book, however, is of quite another sort. We are offered interpretation after interpretation, without being offered even the rudimentary mechanics of how to “read a poem” suggested in the title, if such a mechanics are even available. Maybe his emphasis was on the “art” instead of the “reading poetry.”

  4. 4 out of 5

    Nick Wellings

    A generous 3 stars, one star given for the final 2 page end chapter where Bloom tells us why reading poetry matters, which was a good two sides, also counting towards that one star, a nice recommended reading list of poems. We're not given tips on the art of reading poetry or anything like it though, hence two stars became three. The usual Bloomian heroes are at least mentioned (Dickinson, Wallace Stevens, Emmerson) and some are given quotation (Shakespeare, Hart-Crane, Whitman) - though mirabil A generous 3 stars, one star given for the final 2 page end chapter where Bloom tells us why reading poetry matters, which was a good two sides, also counting towards that one star, a nice recommended reading list of poems. We're not given tips on the art of reading poetry or anything like it though, hence two stars became three. The usual Bloomian heroes are at least mentioned (Dickinson, Wallace Stevens, Emmerson) and some are given quotation (Shakespeare, Hart-Crane, Whitman) - though mirabili dictu, only one mention of Falstaff! Nice sustained reading of a Hart Crane poem. Fun pronouncements on Eliot, nice quote from Tennyson, and a tracing of poetic theme (mortality) from Shakespeare, Pope, Wordsworth up to Stevens. The quoted sections run seven pages, their analysis just two. Also Bloom scorns Poe a little which is fine by me. A pleasant diversion of a book: I am glad I only paid $4.95 for it.

  5. 5 out of 5

    John

    A brief, stand alone book that actually served as the introduction to a large anthology of poetry chosen by Bloom. Bloom has his favorites among poets, some that I agree with and some that I don't. I never enjoyed Harte Crane, though Bloom is effusive in praise for him. On the other hand, I concur with most of what Bloom says about Wallace Stevens. This isn't necessarily a bad book, though I think his book "How To Read And Why" is a better choice for understanding poetry (and fiction). What's nice A brief, stand alone book that actually served as the introduction to a large anthology of poetry chosen by Bloom. Bloom has his favorites among poets, some that I agree with and some that I don't. I never enjoyed Harte Crane, though Bloom is effusive in praise for him. On the other hand, I concur with most of what Bloom says about Wallace Stevens. This isn't necessarily a bad book, though I think his book "How To Read And Why" is a better choice for understanding poetry (and fiction). What's nice about this book, though, is that it is a brief primer on how to figure out poems, especially the difficult ones (a Bloom specialty).

  6. 5 out of 5

    Darren Lyons

    Unbelievably transformative. Bloom's talk of great poetry being inevitable and his description of the expansion of consciousness through poetry is the most erudite, fulfilling, and awesome discussion of the genre I've ever read. Unbelievably transformative. Bloom's talk of great poetry being inevitable and his description of the expansion of consciousness through poetry is the most erudite, fulfilling, and awesome discussion of the genre I've ever read.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Brian Kohl

    Bloom's essay attempts to weave the strands of high lyric poetry into one cloth, and, if you stick with the high style alone as typified by Shelley and Keats, he's probably successful. This essay reads like a companion or application of Eliot's "Tradition and the Individual Talent." Thematic summary: "[In Alastor,] Shelley thus inaugurated what would become more an American than an English poetic motif, the fourfold figuration that fuses night, death, the mother, and the sea in a sequence of Ame Bloom's essay attempts to weave the strands of high lyric poetry into one cloth, and, if you stick with the high style alone as typified by Shelley and Keats, he's probably successful. This essay reads like a companion or application of Eliot's "Tradition and the Individual Talent." Thematic summary: "[In Alastor,] Shelley thus inaugurated what would become more an American than an English poetic motif, the fourfold figuration that fuses night, death, the mother, and the sea in a sequence of American poets from Walt Whitman through Hart Crane, Wallace Stevens, T.S. Eliot, and beyond." "...the Hellenistic myth of Hermes Trismegistus, reputed author of the Poimandres, where Divine Man falls into the ocean that is the cosmos of love, sleep, and death..." I'm not sure how much we can get behind all that, but it's interesting. It's also not my favorite kind of poetry. Oh well, Bloom also thinks he's the coolest thing since sliced bread, so we can shrug off any criticism he might offer.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Anne Hawn Smith

    This book is very deep, so reading 2 pages is about all I can do at one time. The problem is that I have forgotten so many poets names and works that it is hard to follow. Still, I am getting what I wanted to out of the book. I am at least seeing the issues and understanding the poems themselves better. You sure can tell he is a critic though. He makes sweeping interpretations without an ounce of humility...my way of the highway, but he does provide examples and supports his conclusions. I finall This book is very deep, so reading 2 pages is about all I can do at one time. The problem is that I have forgotten so many poets names and works that it is hard to follow. Still, I am getting what I wanted to out of the book. I am at least seeing the issues and understanding the poems themselves better. You sure can tell he is a critic though. He makes sweeping interpretations without an ounce of humility...my way of the highway, but he does provide examples and supports his conclusions. I finally finished the book and now feel like I am barely prepared for reading it again! I give it only 3 stars, but I fear that I am the dunce and the problem is in myself.

  9. 5 out of 5

    vittore paleni

    Much of this essay is really insightful and quiet good. But the larger portion is woefully over my head. I hope to glean more of it in the upcoming years. I must say, the essay left me utterly daunted, but I press on.

  10. 4 out of 5

    XYX

    Bloom is clearly a brilliant man with a penetrating, insightful mind. Unfortunately, not all brilliant people make the effort to write well. This text was very unstructured at every level. There was little overall organization to the book, and the passages themselves read almost like a mix between poetry and prose, which makes it all the more challenging for someone struggling to understand this very topic. I would have preferred clear, simple explanations, rather than a highfalutin display of t Bloom is clearly a brilliant man with a penetrating, insightful mind. Unfortunately, not all brilliant people make the effort to write well. This text was very unstructured at every level. There was little overall organization to the book, and the passages themselves read almost like a mix between poetry and prose, which makes it all the more challenging for someone struggling to understand this very topic. I would have preferred clear, simple explanations, rather than a highfalutin display of the author's erudition. Perhaps the blame rests partly on me and my ignorance. I bought this book because I've always been baffled by poetry and was hoping for an expert guide to the appreciation and interpretation of poems. The intended audience may be people who already have a solid background in the subject. If that is the case, it could be a more successful effort than I am able to judge. Even so, I got this creeping feeling that this is a book with nothing for everyone. Firstly, wouldn't informed readers already be aware of much of what he discusses? Secondly, he introduces some interesting concepts that are only discussed at a superficial level. The ideas of inevitability and strangeness are intriguing, but he only expatiates on (or even defines) them in the vaguest possible way. There are some gems here. His discussion of the editing process and allusion are illuminating. However, it was disappointing overall. I left feeling even more confused about interpretation of poetry than when I started, and there was absolutely no sense of passion, emotion, or joy.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Shubhra

    I must confess that I barely understood this book. There are threads of thought, complex but also enlightening – measuring the greatness of poetry in understanding its allusiveness, the inevitability of its wording and then for the augmentation of consciousness. Somewhere in the book Crane refers to demanding a very high level of readers literacy and enormous intellectual ability – which made me smile, as explanations for why so much of this seemed hard to follow. This is an introduction to Bloo I must confess that I barely understood this book. There are threads of thought, complex but also enlightening – measuring the greatness of poetry in understanding its allusiveness, the inevitability of its wording and then for the augmentation of consciousness. Somewhere in the book Crane refers to demanding a very high level of readers literacy and enormous intellectual ability – which made me smile, as explanations for why so much of this seemed hard to follow. This is an introduction to Bloom’s collection of the best poems in the English language, but honestly, it is no introduction at all. What it did do however, was convey why poetry is poetry and why it is worthwhile for me to try and engage with it.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Pedro

    yeah...this book fell short of my expectations. It’s a shame because the book is small and holds such an attractive title that I had to pick it up and just skimming it I thought it would be a great read. Nope. The language is too wordy for me and for anyone who also fell for the book’s attractive packaging. My rating is really like a 1.5 but rounded up because I always find it neat when there is a recommended reading list. Honestly, I’d like a book like this but about modern poetry - like poets/ yeah...this book fell short of my expectations. It’s a shame because the book is small and holds such an attractive title that I had to pick it up and just skimming it I thought it would be a great read. Nope. The language is too wordy for me and for anyone who also fell for the book’s attractive packaging. My rating is really like a 1.5 but rounded up because I always find it neat when there is a recommended reading list. Honestly, I’d like a book like this but about modern poetry - like poets/poems published after 2000. Add some POC as well! Please!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Luke

    I rated this with just two stars but that might be more of a rating of my reading experience than the quality of the book. I am new to poetry and I was hoping for something more accessible and explanatory. It proved instead to be a short but difficult read that left me no better off in my journey toward understanding the art of poetry. Again, the fault may be mine. Perhaps I, being very new to poetry, am just not the intended audience for the book, I can understand that. I would caution anyone e I rated this with just two stars but that might be more of a rating of my reading experience than the quality of the book. I am new to poetry and I was hoping for something more accessible and explanatory. It proved instead to be a short but difficult read that left me no better off in my journey toward understanding the art of poetry. Again, the fault may be mine. Perhaps I, being very new to poetry, am just not the intended audience for the book, I can understand that. I would caution anyone else just starting out against making the same assumptions.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Luke Gorham

    I don't know the genesis of this work, but I'd bet my teeth it is an essential transposition of an opening lecture he gave to a college poetry course (replete with recommended reading as an addendum here). Ironically, treats "the art of reading poetry" like its calculus, which sort of misses the forest for the trees. That's not to say I know better, as Bloom is a fantastic critic and purveyor of poetry, but this absolutely reads like an overly dogmatic, education-centric treatment of the subject I don't know the genesis of this work, but I'd bet my teeth it is an essential transposition of an opening lecture he gave to a college poetry course (replete with recommended reading as an addendum here). Ironically, treats "the art of reading poetry" like its calculus, which sort of misses the forest for the trees. That's not to say I know better, as Bloom is a fantastic critic and purveyor of poetry, but this absolutely reads like an overly dogmatic, education-centric treatment of the subject and is fairly useless to anyone who regularly reads poetry.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Dave Holt

    This one's short, 56 pages plus over 30 pages of recommended reading. He is of course an accomplished scholar I admire but our taste is quite different. If you particularly enjoy A. E. Housman, Hart Crane, Shakespeare, he's your man. I do share his passions for Wordsworth, Dickinson (the only woman he mentions), Tennyson but I would like to see a more diverse selection being discussed. This one's short, 56 pages plus over 30 pages of recommended reading. He is of course an accomplished scholar I admire but our taste is quite different. If you particularly enjoy A. E. Housman, Hart Crane, Shakespeare, he's your man. I do share his passions for Wordsworth, Dickinson (the only woman he mentions), Tennyson but I would like to see a more diverse selection being discussed.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Deborah

    Love Harold Bloom, but surprised to find this small book is just the introduction to his 'Best Poetry in the English Language' Love Harold Bloom, but surprised to find this small book is just the introduction to his 'Best Poetry in the English Language'

  17. 5 out of 5

    Ambrose Miles

    Five stars for the last 3 pages and much less than that for what came before.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kit

    "Consciousness is to poetry what marble is to sculpture: the material that is being worked." Bloom does not make reading poetry out to be easy, but he did convince me that it is worth it. "Consciousness is to poetry what marble is to sculpture: the material that is being worked." Bloom does not make reading poetry out to be easy, but he did convince me that it is worth it.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Caleb Chan

    60% over my head Inevitability, allusiveness, figuration, (augmentation of) consciousness, strangeness, voice

  20. 4 out of 5

    Brooklyn Sr

    Was a decent book. Didn’t have any African American poets though, so gotta give it 3 stars Max

  21. 5 out of 5

    Nicholas Kotar

    challenging in the best way. I will return to this often as I grow in the life-long journey of reading poetry.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Costas

    Let's start with the obvious cliché: You can either love or hate Bloom. I've loved him since my college years for his take on Shakespeare, I was impressed with his contribution on poetry criticism with the anxiety of influence (and intertextuality all at once made tremendous sense), and I kinda hated him for his strong views against popular literature, fantasy, and specifically, well, I'll say it, Stephen King. As elitist, opinionated and grumpy as he can be, we have to admit that he has collected Let's start with the obvious cliché: You can either love or hate Bloom. I've loved him since my college years for his take on Shakespeare, I was impressed with his contribution on poetry criticism with the anxiety of influence (and intertextuality all at once made tremendous sense), and I kinda hated him for his strong views against popular literature, fantasy, and specifically, well, I'll say it, Stephen King. As elitist, opinionated and grumpy as he can be, we have to admit that he has collected an astonishing amount of knowledge over the years, and anything he might have to say on poetics, it's at least worth hearing. Bloom loves language, literature and poetry with a strong, deep, religious respect, and he treats it as something unique, holy and therapeutic for the reader. The essay of this book was the introduction to The Best Poems of the English Language. After defining poetry as "figurative language, concentrated so that its form is both expressive and evocative", Bloom goes on to provide us with examples from his favourite poets (as well as from his not-that-favourite Poe) on the four types of figurative language and on what is "inevitable" phrasing. There is also a fantastic conclusion with a few thoughts about the importance of reading poetry, which he describes it as "authentic training in the [healthy] augmentation of consciousness". Brilliant motherfucker. Of course, you may love or hate Bloom. Well, fuck that- If you don't mind, I think I'll do both with this one.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    It had been some tem years since I had attempted reading poetry in earnest, and a good fifteen since I had anyone around to tell me what I was doing, and, like Fanny Brawne on Jane Campion's film Bright Star, I was finding, in reading a collection of poetry by Keats of the same name as the film, that I have trouble working out poems. This book didn't fix that problem entirely, but was consciousness raising, and I believe I am the better for reading it. I understand from heresay, likely by people It had been some tem years since I had attempted reading poetry in earnest, and a good fifteen since I had anyone around to tell me what I was doing, and, like Fanny Brawne on Jane Campion's film Bright Star, I was finding, in reading a collection of poetry by Keats of the same name as the film, that I have trouble working out poems. This book didn't fix that problem entirely, but was consciousness raising, and I believe I am the better for reading it. I understand from heresay, likely by people who have never met Harold Bloom, that Bloom is a cantankerous old man, (aside: it would fill my heart with absolute and eternal joy if Harold Bloom were to start a blog calling me out by name, as some goodreads authors have done, to punish me for my "bullying" for that comment on his cantankerousness, not to mention advanced age. Eternal and EVERLASTING joy.) and that shines through in the one bit that I didn't appreciate: just before Bloom's section discussing poetic voice, and how each good poet has their own, he dismisses 'extra poetical'factors that some critics consider essential, such as gender and race, and then leads along, talking about the 'voice' of eight or so white male European poets, as though such a thing as voice could never be influenced by race, creed or gender. I found this a blight on an otherwise wise essay, but will forgive Bloom on account of said ancientness, of which I understand deafness can be a symptom.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Christopher Goins

    Who is Harold Bloom's audience? You can be assured that if you are on the outside looking in, then this book is not for you. And while I don't believe this is a practical book, it also isn't useless. Bloom's talk about learning the meaning of a poem by looking at the author's revision process is something that I have found useful ever since I read it. Indeed, I have found out how I can change the meaning of my poems through the revision process. And there are a handful of other things I really li Who is Harold Bloom's audience? You can be assured that if you are on the outside looking in, then this book is not for you. And while I don't believe this is a practical book, it also isn't useless. Bloom's talk about learning the meaning of a poem by looking at the author's revision process is something that I have found useful ever since I read it. Indeed, I have found out how I can change the meaning of my poems through the revision process. And there are a handful of other things I really like, such as his definitions of certain literary terms. Still, I can't recommend this book for the uninitiated. I do appreciate section six which starts out with the question "What makes one poem better than the other?" He goes on to say that Shakespeare and Chaucer "remain the poets I love best" (an admission I appreciate), and then he juxtaposes the poetry of Edgar Allen Poe and Lord Byron, and eventually concludes that Byron wrote the better of the two poems with support for why he thinks that is the case (Side note: I had a professor in college who didn't like Poe). Later he says, "What makes [Walt] Whitman the best of all American poets--except for his one rival, Emily Dickinson--is harmonic balance. At his greatest, he is flawless, with no false notes." Also, Bloom makes a lot of references but there isn't a footnote in sight. What kind of academic doesn't like showing off his ability to make arcane references?

  25. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    It is hard to know exactly how to rate this book. I must admit that it is mostly over my head, a hard thing for me to say. It is about how one should read poetry. Simple enough, I thought at first. But it is not. Perhaps this is why, despite liking poetry, I dislike so much of it. I cannot understand where people get ther interpretations of poetry from. It is simply beyond my mind. If you have something to say, say it plainly. My own attempts at poetry reflect this. All the same, I am pretty sur It is hard to know exactly how to rate this book. I must admit that it is mostly over my head, a hard thing for me to say. It is about how one should read poetry. Simple enough, I thought at first. But it is not. Perhaps this is why, despite liking poetry, I dislike so much of it. I cannot understand where people get ther interpretations of poetry from. It is simply beyond my mind. If you have something to say, say it plainly. My own attempts at poetry reflect this. All the same, I am pretty sure that if one were into the higher forms of poetry, or wished to get into the higher forms, this book would be a good choice for them. Thus, I give it a 4 star rating. It doesn't hurt either that he includes a list of recommended reading at the end of the book which I find very helpful and interesting. This book, however, is not for casual reading.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Elena

    First, what a disappointment that it was only 60 pages long. I read it within an hour. I usually do not storm through criticisms quickly, but I thought this one serves as a toned down version of other Harold Bloom poetry. In this criticism, he even gives you a little test to identify passages from different poets. I was glad that I identified 5 out of the 9 examples, but I am sure it was through the tutelage I owe from reading other Bloom books. Unfortunately, this book suffered a low mark becau First, what a disappointment that it was only 60 pages long. I read it within an hour. I usually do not storm through criticisms quickly, but I thought this one serves as a toned down version of other Harold Bloom poetry. In this criticism, he even gives you a little test to identify passages from different poets. I was glad that I identified 5 out of the 9 examples, but I am sure it was through the tutelage I owe from reading other Bloom books. Unfortunately, this book suffered a low mark because unlike Cleanth Brooks A Well Wrought Urn, which I think is a great start up book in teaching someone the nuances of poetry, this book fails to do so. It does not make as great or a good introduction to reading poetry. Bloom published The Best Poems of the English Language to further add on to what this book clearly did not have the elevation of thought and its correlation to literature.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Brock

    I like to think that I can read scholarly writing and obtain just what the writer intended. However, this book was just a little beyond me in certain sections. To those who already have some training in analysis and critique in writing, you may find my comment to be remiss. I did have a little training in college but I still find this book to be a burden to read. The general principles are right on, but I saw 2 problems with the way each principle was explained: 1. The principle could be fleshed o I like to think that I can read scholarly writing and obtain just what the writer intended. However, this book was just a little beyond me in certain sections. To those who already have some training in analysis and critique in writing, you may find my comment to be remiss. I did have a little training in college but I still find this book to be a burden to read. The general principles are right on, but I saw 2 problems with the way each principle was explained: 1. The principle could be fleshed out more 2. Burdensome language - overly scholarly I do respect the book for the scholarly writing and I do recommend it as a read. I just make the reader aware that I do not believe this is for the common man who wants only one book which will teach him the basics to reading and analyzing poetry. This is a hard read which is very helpful when used with other tools of like title.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Randolph

    I was having a hard time with Hart Crane so I dug this out of it's little hidden cubby and decided to actually read it(its a miracle I remembered where it was). It was a good little essay introduction for me although I still haven't read enough poetry in the past to really make reading Hart Crane a totally fulfilling experience (at least according to Bloom). I can't say I "got" everything in this little book, again due to my lack of poetic reading. It seems like something you could go back to ti I was having a hard time with Hart Crane so I dug this out of it's little hidden cubby and decided to actually read it(its a miracle I remembered where it was). It was a good little essay introduction for me although I still haven't read enough poetry in the past to really make reading Hart Crane a totally fulfilling experience (at least according to Bloom). I can't say I "got" everything in this little book, again due to my lack of poetic reading. It seems like something you could go back to time and time again as your gained more depth in poetry. Someone who took more poetry classes in university might find this worthless or all BS, I don't know enough to say. I stuck to prose in college and avoided poetry like the plague.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Grace Curtis

    Some little gems in this little book: "One definition of poetic power is that it so fuses thinking and remembering that we cannot separate the two processes. Can a poem, of authentic strength, be composed without remembering a prior poem, whether by the self or by another? Literary thinking relies upon literary memory, and the drama of recognition, in every writer, contains within it a moment of coming to terms with another writer, or with an earlier version of the self." Some interesting thought Some little gems in this little book: "One definition of poetic power is that it so fuses thinking and remembering that we cannot separate the two processes. Can a poem, of authentic strength, be composed without remembering a prior poem, whether by the self or by another? Literary thinking relies upon literary memory, and the drama of recognition, in every writer, contains within it a moment of coming to terms with another writer, or with an earlier version of the self." Some interesting thoughts on critiquing poetry from an historical perspective. Also a decent reading list for the serious student.

  30. 4 out of 5

    David

    This book reminds me of the poem by Waring Cuney, "No Images." There are no poets of color included in his list of great poets. Yes, Bloom has Milton and Shakespeare but Derek Walcott (winner of the 1992 Nobel Prize for literature) was missing as were many fine black writers. Bloom is astute in what he does: British and American white authors. No one would quarrel with his selections and insights. Yes, the book is worth reading but one must consider the bias of the author. This book reminds me of the poem by Waring Cuney, "No Images." There are no poets of color included in his list of great poets. Yes, Bloom has Milton and Shakespeare but Derek Walcott (winner of the 1992 Nobel Prize for literature) was missing as were many fine black writers. Bloom is astute in what he does: British and American white authors. No one would quarrel with his selections and insights. Yes, the book is worth reading but one must consider the bias of the author.

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