VISION AND RESONANCE: Two Senses of Poetic Form by John Hollander

VISION AND RESONANCE: Two Senses of Poetic Form

Email this review


Hollander's a formalist inchworm with an extraordinary sensitivity to the calibrations of style. These essays, written over the last twenty years, hang together as a poetics of English verse from Chaucer to W. C. Williams, with homage paid to poet-composer-theoretician Campion, to Donne for a metrical roughness which shifts meaning through those jagged rhythms, to Milton for his innovative ""variety of pauses"" and especially to Jonson, seen here as a proto-Augustan, in a very loving appreciation of his technical mastery. Hollander's units of measure include enjambment and quantity as well as rhyme and meter; and though there's attention to the poem as inscription he mostly treats verse as an aural experience. This is Emily Dickinson: ""Using a base of the so-called 'common meter' of hymnody--the accentual version in 4-beat and 3-beat alternating lines of the tetrameter-trimeter abcb rhyming quatrain also loosely called 'ballad stanza'--she derived an intense, chromatic, often deliberately soured, solo hymnody of her own."" While mindful of the 20th century movement toward personal meter and eclecticism, Hollander is a joyful taxonomist. Curled comfortably around the roots of Classical and English prosody, he's almost nostalgic for the pristine structures of an earlier order.

Pub Date: June 12th, 1975
Publisher: Oxford