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Invisible Listeners


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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xi Introduction Invisible Listeners 1 CHAPTER ONE: George Herbert and God 9 CHAPTER TWO: Walt Whitman and the Reader-in-Futurity 31 CHAPTER THREE: John Ashbery and the Artist of the Past 57 Conclusion Domesticating the Unseen 79 Notes 81 Index 91

Promotional Information

A new book by Helen Vendler is always cause for excitement, especially to readers of poetry. Invisible Listeners goes to the heart of our experience of lyric. It reinforces one of Vendler's central beliefs: that lyric is not just a decorative art, but an art crucial to our social and ethical lives. -- Bonnie Costello, Boston University, author of "Shifting Ground: Reinventing Landscape in Modern American Poetry" Helen Vendler has written an exemplary book of critical reading, an expert commentary whose quietly assumed learning is a model of critical modesty and strength. She has always been able to convey the subtle effects of poetic art, and here, once again, her luminous interpretations catch fire in a voicing of great lyric verse. -- Angus Fletcher, City University of New York, author of "A New Theory for American Poetry" With her hallmark expertise, Helen Vendler analyzes various strategies observable in each poet at issue and (as usual) shows herself to be absolutely at home in admiring the procedures of very different poets. This is a highly professional exercise, dedicated--as Vendler is always dedicated--to enhancing the aesthetic rewards of engaged reading. -- William H. Pritchard, Amherst College, author of "Shelf Life: Literary Essays and Reviews"

About the Author

Helen Vendler is A. Kingsley Porter University Professor of English at Harvard University. Her most recent books include "Poets Thinking: Pope, Whitman, Dickinson, Yeats; Coming of Age As a Poet: Milton, Keats, Eliot, Plath"; and "Seamus Heaney". Her reviews of contemporary poetry and criticism have appeared in the "New York Review of Books", the "New Yorker", the "New Republic", and other publications.


"Helen Vendler['s] ... Invisible Listeners, a compact study of "lyric intimacy" in three poets, demonstrates, if you have forgotten, some of the best reasons to read literary criticism."--Langdon Hammer, The New York Times Book Review "[A] compact and lively little book... Vendler's brisk and light touch, her ability to pick at a line for every bit of meaning, makes this an enjoyable and moving book."--Angela Leighton, Times Literary Supplement "As poetry is not read but re-read, so Vendler's handsome analysis should be, the art of engaged reading."--Leeta Taylor, Foreword Magazine

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