The Ode Less Travelled
Unlocking the Poet Within
Comedian and actor Stephen Fry’s witty and practical guide, now in paperback, gives the aspiring poet or student the tools and confidence to write and understand poetry.
Stephen Fry believes that if one can speak and read English, one can write poetry. In The Ode Less Travelled, he invites readers to discover the delights of writing poetry for pleasure and provides the tools and confidence to get started. Through enjoyable exercises, witty insights, and simple step-by-step advice, Fry introduces the concepts of Metre, Rhyme, Form, Diction, and Poetics.
Most of us have never been taught to read or write poetry, and so it can seem mysterious and intimidating. But Fry, a wonderfully competent, engaging teacher and a writer of poetry himself, sets out to correct this problem by explaining the various elements of poetry in simple terms, without condescension. Fry’s method works, and his enthusiasm is contagious as he explores different forms of poetry: the haiku, the ballad, the villanelle, and the sonnet, among many others. Along the way, he introduces us to poets we’ve heard of but never read. The Ode Less Travelled is not just the survey course you never took in college, it’s a lively celebration of poetry that makes even the most reluctant reader want to pick up a pencil and give it a try.
How to Read this Book. Three Golden Rules
I. How We Speak. Meet Metre. The Great Iamb. The Iambic Pentameter. Poetry Exercises 1 & 2
II. End-stopping, Enjambment and Caesura. Poetry Exercise 3. Weak Endings, Trochaic and Pyrhhic Substitutions. Substitutions. Poetry Exercise 4
III. More Metres: Four Beats to the Line. Mixed Feet. Poetry Exercise 5
IV. Ternary Feet: The Dactyl, The Molossus and Tribrach, The Amphibrach, The Amphimacer, Quaternary Feet. Poetry Exercise 6
V. Anglo-Saxon Attitudes. Poetry Exercise 7. Sprung Rhythm.
VI. Syllabic Verse. Poetry Exercises 8 & 9: Coleridge's 'Lesson for a Boy'.
Table of Metric Feet
I. The Basic Categories of Rhyme. Partial Rhymes. Feminine and Triple Rhymes. Rich Rhyme.
II. Rhyming Arrangements.
III. Good and Bad Rhyme? A Thought Experiment. Rhyming Practice and Rhyming Dictionaries. Poetry Exercise 10
I. The Stanza. What is Form and Why Bother with It?
II. Stanzaic Variations. Open Forms: Terza Rima, The Quatrain, The Rubai, Rhyme Royal, Ottava Rima, Spenserian Stanza. Adopting and Adapting. Poetry Exercise 11
III. The Ballad. Poetry Exerdise 12
IV. Heroic Verse. Poetry Exercise 13
V. The Ode: Sapphic, Pindaric, Horatian, The Lyric Ode, Anacreontics.
VI. Closed Forms: the Villanelle. Poetry Exercise 14. The Sestina. Poetry Exercise 15. The Pantoum, The Ballade.
VII. More Closed Forms: Rondeau, Rondeau Redoublé, Rondel, Roundel, Rondelet, Roundelay, Triolet, Kyrielle. Poetry Exercise 16
VIII. Comic Verse: Cento, The Clerihew. The Limerick. Reflections on Comic and Impolite Verse. Light Verse. Parody. Poetry Exercise 17
IX. Exotic Forms: Haiku, Senryu, Tanka. Ghazal. Luc Bat. Tanaga. Poetry Exercise 18
X. The Sonnet: Petrarchan and Shakespearean. Curtal and caudate sonnets. Sonnet Variations and Romantic Duels. Poetry Exercise 19
XI. Shaped Verse. Pattern Poems. Silly, Silly Forms. Acrostics. Poetry Exercise 20
4. Diction and Poetics Today
I. The Whale. The Cat and the Act. Madeline. Diction. Being Alert to Language.
II. Poetic Vices. Ten Habits of Successful Poets that They Don't Teach You at Harvard Poetry School, or Chicken Verse for the Soul Is from Mars but You Are What You Read in Just Seven Days or Your Money Back. Getting Noticed. Poetry Today. Goodbye.
Incomplete Glossary of Poetic Terms
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