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(2012) English and American studies, Stuttgart, Metzler.

Analyzing poetry

Timo Müller

pp. 335-339

Poetry is often regarded as the most "difficult" genre, and in some ways it is. A novel or a play tells a story, often in a fairly straightforward way, and even if we do not get a sense of the story at the beginning, things will usually become clearer once we have made our way into the book. Most poems, on the other hand, are too short and too densely written for this mode of reading. If we ignore the details and skip passages we cannot make sense of at first sight, the poem might be over before we even have begun to understand it. In this sense, poetry indeed tends to be more difficult than other genres. However, one of the beliefs that most students of literature come to share is that difficult texts can be more rewarding than easy ones. They force us to read closely, and to wonder why things are expressed the way they are. In other words, when we read poetry, we can hardly help analyzing it at the same time. This makes poetry a paradigmatic genre for literary studies: the techniques of reading we learn here can serve as models for our readings of other genres as well.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1007/978-3-476-00406-2_24

Full citation:

Müller, T. (2012)., Analyzing poetry, in M. Middeke, T. Müller, C. Wald & H. Zapf (eds.), English and American studies, Stuttgart, Metzler, pp. 335-339.

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