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Twentieth Century Pleasures: Prose on Poetry

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U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Hass considers some of the twentiethcentury poets who bring him pleasure: Robert Lowll, JamesWright, Tomas Transtromer, Joseph Brodsky, Yvor Winters,Robert Creeley, James McMichael, Czeslaw Milosz, and others,in this, his first collection of essays. Originally published in1984, Twentieth Century Pleasures: Prose on Poetry won theNational Book Crit U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Hass considers some of the twentiethcentury poets who bring him pleasure: Robert Lowll, JamesWright, Tomas Transtromer, Joseph Brodsky, Yvor Winters,Robert Creeley, James McMichael, Czeslaw Milosz, and others,in this, his first collection of essays. Originally published in1984, Twentieth Century Pleasures: Prose on Poetry won theNational Book Critics Circle Award for criticism. A new collection of Robert Hass's essays will be published by Ecco in 1998.


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U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Hass considers some of the twentiethcentury poets who bring him pleasure: Robert Lowll, JamesWright, Tomas Transtromer, Joseph Brodsky, Yvor Winters,Robert Creeley, James McMichael, Czeslaw Milosz, and others,in this, his first collection of essays. Originally published in1984, Twentieth Century Pleasures: Prose on Poetry won theNational Book Crit U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Hass considers some of the twentiethcentury poets who bring him pleasure: Robert Lowll, JamesWright, Tomas Transtromer, Joseph Brodsky, Yvor Winters,Robert Creeley, James McMichael, Czeslaw Milosz, and others,in this, his first collection of essays. Originally published in1984, Twentieth Century Pleasures: Prose on Poetry won theNational Book Critics Circle Award for criticism. A new collection of Robert Hass's essays will be published by Ecco in 1998.

30 review for Twentieth Century Pleasures: Prose on Poetry

  1. 5 out of 5

    Mia

    “Images haunt. There is a whole mythology built on this fact: Cézanne painting till his eyes bled, Wordsworth wandering the Lake Country hills in an impassioned daze. Blake describes it very well, and so did the colleague of Tu Fu who said to him, ‘It is like being twice alive.’ Images are not quite ideas, they are stiller than that, with less implication outside themselves. And they are not myth, they do not have that explanatory power; they are nearer to pure story. Nor are they always metapho “Images haunt. There is a whole mythology built on this fact: Cézanne painting till his eyes bled, Wordsworth wandering the Lake Country hills in an impassioned daze. Blake describes it very well, and so did the colleague of Tu Fu who said to him, ‘It is like being twice alive.’ Images are not quite ideas, they are stiller than that, with less implication outside themselves. And they are not myth, they do not have that explanatory power; they are nearer to pure story. Nor are they always metaphors; they do not say this is that, they say this is this. In the nineteenth century one would have said that what compelled usa bout them was a sense of the eternal. And it is something like that, some feeling in the arrest of the image that what perishes and what lasts forever have been brought into conjunction, and accompanying that sensation is a feeling of release from the self. Antonio Machado wrote, ‘Hoy es siempre todavía.’ Yet today is always. And Czeslaw Milosz, ‘Tylko trwa wieczna chwila.’ Only the moment is eternal.”

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kent

    Though this is a collection of essays, and most of them leaning very heavily into a personal narrative where Hass describes his relationship with a poet's work, I felt there was a larger argument at work in the book. It seems to me form is an organic structure for Hass, and it grows out of a poet's experiences and his identity. This doesn't mean that he surrenders himself to some touch-feely version of how a poem ought to be, Hass is as strict in his analysis of sonics, and rhythms, and meter. I Though this is a collection of essays, and most of them leaning very heavily into a personal narrative where Hass describes his relationship with a poet's work, I felt there was a larger argument at work in the book. It seems to me form is an organic structure for Hass, and it grows out of a poet's experiences and his identity. This doesn't mean that he surrenders himself to some touch-feely version of how a poem ought to be, Hass is as strict in his analysis of sonics, and rhythms, and meter. It does mean that these elements take on a character unique to a really good poet.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Ken

    I read this book on vacation. Hass's is a learned, avuncular style. Reading it, I felt like I was in the hands of a man who knew his way around poetry yet didn't reek of academia or condescension (not that those two always travel together... they just use the same agency, as a rule). I especially enjoyed Hass's memoir-esque essay and the one on images, where he shared his expertise on the haiku form. There's a lot to learn from haiku. Even if you truck in BIG poems as a poet yourself. And especia I read this book on vacation. Hass's is a learned, avuncular style. Reading it, I felt like I was in the hands of a man who knew his way around poetry yet didn't reek of academia or condescension (not that those two always travel together... they just use the same agency, as a rule). I especially enjoyed Hass's memoir-esque essay and the one on images, where he shared his expertise on the haiku form. There's a lot to learn from haiku. Even if you truck in BIG poems as a poet yourself. And especially if you're a bit wordy (ahem).

  4. 5 out of 5

    Sunni

    A practical but pleasurable kind of handbook for poetry, written in very accessible prose. Hass takes on the musicality and varying tones of certain poems, reviews the work of particular poets, and explains, clearly and with excellent examples, his way of understanding the grace of poetry. So helpful when teaching a class! This is one of the few books of prose on poetry written by a well-known poet that doesn't ever feel didactic or erudite.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Sherry Chandler

    An idiosyncratic, highly readable, thought-provoking collection of essays. Instructive on haiku, thought-provoking on Milosz. I did note that he gives no serious consideration to any woman poet. That is his prerogative, but it made the book less interesting to me. Gentle as Hass is, his concerns are men's concerns.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Cyrus

    These are fresh, intelligent, deeply insightful essays on poetry that I come back to again and again. The essays exhibit the same witty, far-ranging conversational brilliance that Hass possesses off the page.Indispensable critical work that earned him the National Book Critics Circle Award.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Austin

    it’s a lovely and useful book. it made me want to read more whitman and pound which feels like both a good and bad thing. the poets hass writes about here are almost all white and men with an obligatory smattering of plath, sexton, moore, h.d., and the like. but it’s still got plenty to offer.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Ian

    The book provides many in depth views and outlooks on certain poets as well as aspects of poetry as a whole. Though the book does offer several essays on American Poets, Hass writes several essays on other English writing poets from around the world, and delves into reading poetry in translation.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Dawnelle Wilkie

    Absolutely dazzling criticism on modern poetics!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Theresa

    Twentieth Century Pleasures: Prose on Poetry Hass, Robert is a required text for high school.

  11. 4 out of 5

    John

  12. 4 out of 5

    Danny

  13. 4 out of 5

    Brian Gunn

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jill

  15. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Klawitter

  16. 4 out of 5

    Lawson

  17. 4 out of 5

    Susan

  18. 5 out of 5

    Shelby

  19. 4 out of 5

    Alex

  20. 5 out of 5

    Chad Sexton

  21. 5 out of 5

    Shef Reynolds

  22. 4 out of 5

    Chad

  23. 4 out of 5

    Cameron

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Holden

  25. 5 out of 5

    Greg

  26. 4 out of 5

    Laure-anne

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

  28. 5 out of 5

    Mohamed Lotfy

  29. 4 out of 5

    Susan

  30. 5 out of 5

    Megan RFA

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