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The Secret Life of Poems: A Poetry Primer - Tom Paulin

Paulin proceeds without prelude to his purpose; an illumination of meanings and mechanisms of poems spanning hundreds of years, many sharing his Irish heritage. He reflects on the effects of acoustic patterns and the physicality of reading, as well as on biographical episodes and contextual detail ranging across politics and literature

I learned so much from this book, about poetry, history and the English language. Paulin's insight into the sophistication of works by the likes of DH Lawrence dispelled the initial anxiety that I wouldn't understand the book, and I was hungry for more when I came to the end. Susan Sontag has said that the aesthetic is 'that which needs no justification' (in her essay 'On Style'), but Paulin's book demonstrates to me that we still need guidance to acquire the taste for new pleasures...