Metre, Rhythm and Verse Form, Paperback Book

Metre, Rhythm and Verse Form Paperback

Part of the The New Critical Idiom series

3.5 out of 5 (1 rating)


Poetry criticism is a subject central to the study of literature.

However, it is laden with technical terms that, to the beginning student, can be both intimidating and confusing.

Philip Hobsbaum provides a welcome remedy, illuminating terms ranging from the iambus to the bob-wheel stanza, and forms from the Spenserian sonnet to modern 'rap', with clarity and comprehensiveness.

It is an essential guide through the terminology which will be invaluable reading for undergraduates new to the subject.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 212 pages, bibliography
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis Ltd
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Literary theory
  • ISBN: 9780415087971

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There is something inspiring, and just a bit intimidating, when a master of prosody and the history of English poetry sets about delineating the varieties of poetic metre, rhythm, and verse form. Philip Hobsbaum is never less than exhilarating in this high-paced introduction, though at times the wealth of technical detail on such matters as sprung rhythm or the use of Trager-Smith notation threatens to overwhelm the neophyte. Patience is undoubtedly a virtue with a text like this, and a degree of humility. Don’t expect to take it all in and retain it, actively, in a single reading. Rather, treat it as a resource that may be returned to again and again.I especially liked Hobsbaum’s lengthy and informative chapter on free verse, which delineated the three forms that fall under that appellation, and is particularly useful on what Hobsbaum calls ‘free verse proper’. This turns out to be an exceptionally difficult form, so much so that Hobsbaum laments, “One may well be astonished that unpractised poets continue to attempt it, when forms more likely to bring success—sprung rhythm, pararhyme—lie so close to their hand.” You will certainly come away from this book with a newfound appreciation for the amount and level of technical craftsmanship that goes into great poetry of any era. Whether that will aid your appreciation of the poems you read, however, is an open question. Recommended.

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