An Introduction to English Poetry

James Fenton

Farrar, Straus and Giroux Paperbacks

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A wise, absorbing, and surprising introduction to poetry written in English, from one of England's leading poets

James Fenton is that rare scholar "not ashamed to admit that he mostly reads for pleasure" (Charles Simic, The New York Review of Books). In this eminently readable guide to his abiding passion, he has distilled the essense of a library's--and a lifetime's--worth of delight.

The pleasures of his own verse can be found in abundance here: economy, a natural ease, and most of all, surprise. What is English poetry? Fenton argues that it includes any recited words in English that marshall rhythm for their meaning--among them prisoners's work songs, Broadway show tunes, and the cries of street vendors captured in verse. From these beginnings, Fenton describes the rudiments of--and, most important, the inspiration for--the musical verse we find in books, and concludes with an illuminating discussion of operas and songs. Fenton illustrates his comments with verse from all over the English-speaking world.

Catholic in his taste, shrewd in his distinctions, and charmingly frank, Fenton is an ideal guide to everything to do with poetry, from the temperament of poets to their accomplishment, in all its variety. In all his writing, prose or verse, Fenton has always had the virtue of saying, in a way that seems effortless, precisely what lies at the heart of the matter. In this vein, An Introduction to English Poetry is one of his highest accomplishments.

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Praise for An Introduction to English Poetry

"[Fenton's] essays educate, enlighten, surprise and thrill, unfailingly." --Robin Lippincott, The New York Times Book Review

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About the Author

James Fenton

James Fenton was Professor of Poetry at Oxford from 1994 to 1999. His most recent works on gardening, A Garden from a Hundred Packets of Seed (FSG, 2002), of criticism, The Strength of Poetry, and of poetry, Out of Danger, are published by FSG.

James Fenton

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James Fenton

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Available Formats and Book Details

An Introduction to English Poetry
James Fenton

Trade Paperback

Trade Paperback
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Farrar, Straus and Giroux Paperbacks
April 2004
Trade Paperback
ISBN: 9780374528898
ISBN10: 0374528896
5 x 7 1/2 inches, 152 pages
$15.00
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Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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