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Lyric Powers

The authority of poetry varies from one period to another, from one culture to another. For Robert von Hallberg, the authority of lyric poetry has three sources: religious affirmation, the social institutions of those who speak the idioms from which particular poems are made, and the extraordinary cognition generated by the formal and musical resources of poems. "Lyric Powers" helps students, poets, and general readers to recognize the pleasures and understand the ambitions of lyric poetry.To explain why a reader might prefer one kind of poem to another, von Hallberg analyzes - beyond the political and intellectual significance of poems - the musicality of both lyric poetry and popular song, including that of Tin Pan Alley and doo-wop. He shows that poets have distinctive intellectual resources - not just rhetorical resources - for examining their subjects, and that the power of poetic language to generalize, not particularize, is what justly deserves a critic's attention.The first book in more than a decade from this respected critic, "Lyric Powers" will be celebrated as a genuine event by readers of poetry and literary criticism.
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About the Author

Robert von Hallberg is the Helen A. Regenstein Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Chicago.


"Robert von Hallberg is a careful, deep, and often counterintuitive thinker about poetry in general and about particular strands of modern poetry: his originality makes him impossible to place (or write off) as a partisan of a given school, and his consistent attention to the words on the page means there's scarcely a reading in Lyric Powers that doesn't say something valuable. He's a pleasure to read." - Stephen Burt, Harvard University"

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