Shakespeare and Poetry

Peter Holbrook

in The Edinburgh Companion to Shakespeare and the Arts

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780748635238
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748652297 | DOI:
Shakespeare and Poetry

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This chapter argues that the various typologies of poetry in Shakespeare are often, surprisingly, treated satirically: poetry is linked to fantasy, to dubious claims and to an alienation from ‘reality’. Shakespeare's significance for poetry may amount to an intuition that there are more important things in life than the right words in the right order. Moreover, it reviews some of the ways in which Shakespeare is understood in the critical tradition in order to make it clear why Thom Gunn, of all modern poets, has one of the strongest claims to Shakespeare's inheritance. Gunn's conscious engagement with Shakespearean writing is evident in the pattern of allusions across his oeuvre. His poetry derives its considerable wit and power from the combination of control and openness — ‘Rule’ and ‘Energy’ — that is also found in Shakespeare. Additionally, his fusion of energy with order is the true Shakespearean inheritance.

Keywords: poetry; Shakespeare; Thom Gunn; Rule; Energy; Shakespearean inheritance

Chapter.  7109 words. 

Subjects: Shakespeare Studies and Criticism

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