Cover: The Book the Poet Makes in PAPERBACK

LeBaron Russell Briggs Prize Honors Essays in English 1993

The Book the Poet Makes

Collection and Re-Collection in W. B. Yeats’s The Tower and Robert Lowell’s Life Studies

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$12.50 • £9.95 • €11.30

ISBN 9780674078673

Publication: August 1995


Peter Nohrnberg asks how and why a collection of lyrics is transformed into a unified book. The topic is largely unexplored, and is important in several theoretical dimensions. Also, it activates an additional level of attention in the reading of lyric volumes. Nohrnberg’s subject is not the lyric sequence, a recognized form, but the ordinary collections of poems. For his examples the author dwells on W. B. Yeats’s The Tower and Robert Lowell’s Life Studies. As Nohrnberg applies the distinction between poets of product and poets of process not to individual poems but to books of poems, he breaks new ground. His methods of reading books as well as poems will surely be imitated and extended by others. Among the especially productive concepts are that the first and last poems in the volume perform functions of framing, inaugurating, anticipating, summarizing, etc., and that one or more poems in the collection mirror the self-reflection and the reader’s experience of the book as a whole. He also explores the parallel or repeating structures and forms, implied plots, and interwoven motifs and themes. Winner of both the undergraduate Thomas Temple Hoopes Prize and the LeBaron Russell Briggs Prize, this thesis offers marvelously fresh, perceptive comments on particular poems within these volumes.