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The rhymes in poems are important to understanding how poets write; and in the nineteenth century, rhyme conditioned the ways in which poets heard both themselves and each other writing. Sound Intentions studies the significance of rhyme in the work of Wordsworth, Keats, Tennyson, Christina Rossetti, Hopkins and other poets, including Coleridge, Byron, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Swinburne, and Hardy. The book's stylistic reading of nineteenth-century poetry argues for Wordsworth's centrality to issues of intention and chance in poets' work, and offers a reading of the formal choices made in poetry as profoundly revealing points of intertextual relation. Sound Intentions includes detailed consideration of the critical meaning of both rhyme and repetition, bringing to bear an emphasis on form as poetry's crucial proving-ground. In a series of detailed readings of important poems, the book shows how close formal attention goes beyond critical formalism, and can become a way of illuminating poets' deepest preoccupations, doubts, and beliefs. Wordsworth's sounding of his own poetic voice, in blank verse as well as rhyme, is here taken as a model for the ways in which later nineteenth-century poets attend to the most perplexing and important voicings of their own poetic originality.
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Sound Intentions exemplifies the kind of attentive and insistently enquiring reading that any more than merely descriptive literary study demands (Ross Wilson, The Times Literary Supplement)
By engaging with its chosen poet on his or her own terms, each chapter achieves a kind of critical sympathy that makes space for the poetry to speak for itself and allows for new conversations between poets and poems to develop. The resultant whole constitutes a quietly provocative, hugely enjoyable, and intellectually rich work that makes a significant contribution to the study of poetic form and literary influence. (Anna Barton, Modern Language Review)
This is a very fine book in many ways. (Angela Leighton, Tennyson Research Bulletin)
Peter McDonald is a poet and critic. Born in Belfast, he has taught at the Universities of Cambridge, Bristol, and Oxford, where he has since 1999 been Christopher Tower Student and Tutor in Poetry in the English Language at Christ Church College. He is the author of five volumes of poetry, and his Collected Poems will appear from Carcanet in September 2012. His literary criticism includes two influential works on modern poetry, Mistaken Identities: Poetry and Northern Ireland (OUP, 1997) and Serious Poetry: Form and Authority from Yeats to Hill (OUP, 2002), and he has edited Louis MacNeice's Collected Poems (Faber, 2007). He is a regular contributor to the TLS and other literary periodicals. He is currently editing a three-volume edition of W.B. Yeats's Complete Poems for Longman.
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