Short Review: The Force of Poetry

A short review of Christopher Ricks’ The Force of Poetry :

Christopher Ricks, the force of poetry,, modern poetry, william wordsworth

After William Empson, Christopher Ricks is probably the best respected critic of the last half-century or so. Dealing with anyone and anything fron Milton to Wordsworth to Lies and the evolution of the Cliche, Ricks’ sampling is broad, but his focus is acute. He is so deft at reading poems by listening to the words, attending to what the words themselves are doing and saying–to the point that a hyphen or conjunction can generate a powerful new reading of an entire poem. His account of the words becomes his description of the poem and he gives that to us not as an imposition so much as a gift–an aesthetic vision we can share with him.

A note on availability in print: As you can tell from the listing I’ve linked to above, this book is in desperate need of an economic reprinting. Get this book, but get it used.



Short Review: Skeptical Music—Essays on Modern Poetry

A short review of David Bromwich’s Skeptical Music: Essays on Modern Poetry:

Bromwich is really honest about the subjectivity of his criticism; he reads for aesthetic jolts or nudges, notes the passages and methods that create those effects for and upon him, then shows them to his reader with the hope (but not the certainty) that they will be moved by the same things. There is some really fine material on modern poetry here. His writing is extremely accessible: one of the most readable critics who’s worth reading.