By Mary Oliver
With ardour, wit, and strong good judgment, the distinguished poet Mary Oliver tells of the elemental methods a poem is built-meter and rhyme, shape and diction, sound and feel. Drawing on poems from Robert Frost, Elizabeth Bishop, and others, Oliver imparts a rare volume of knowledge in a remarkably brief area. “Stunning” (Los Angeles Times). Index.
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Extra resources for A Poetry Handbook
But it does tell us a great deal. To begin with, it lies upon the page in a careful visual pattern—four two-line stanzas. In each case the second line of the stanza is a single word. And there is no punctuation. What does this design mean? What does it mean that there is no punctuation? Perhaps the lack of punctuation is trying to say that this is a new kind of poem, to be read in a new way—taking clues from the very graphic layout itself—from the line breaks primarily, rather than the old formalities of comma or dash.
Without it, poetry might still be wise, but it would surely be pallid. And thin. It is the detailed, sensory language incorporating images that gives the poem dash and tenderness. And authenticity. Poems are "imaginary gardens with real toads in them," said Marianne Moore. How is it done? " What are images? How does this figurative language work? T H E LANGUAGE OF T H E POEM Imagery means, generally, the representation of one thing by another thing. A statue is an image. When Robert Burns wrote, "O, my luve is like a red red rose," that rose is an image; Burns was using imagery.
T H E LANGUAGE OF T H E POEM Imagery means, generally, the representation of one thing by another thing. A statue is an image. When Robert Burns wrote, "O, my luve is like a red red rose," that rose is an image; Burns was using imagery. If Burns had written "My love is sweet, wild, wonderful, you would like her," he would have been using descriptive language, but no imagery. There is, in 93 the second sentence, no representative image of the beloved person. Figurative language is another term for imagery.
A Poetry Handbook by Mary Oliver