Introduction: Shakespeare’s poetry in the twenty-first century

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingForeword/postscript

Abstract

we already know what poetry is. No problem there. It’s poesis-a making, a made thing. If we accept Aristotle’s definition, it’s specifically a thing made out of speech and rhythm. We might press the matter further and agree with the Russian formalists that it’s a thing made out of speech and rhythm that calls attention to its making and its made-ness. Bruce R. Smith, ‘Introduction’, PMLA, ‘Special Topic: On Poetry’1 Shakespeare … wrote the best poetry … in English, or perhaps in any Western language. Harold Bloom, Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human2 Poetry in the Shakespeare canon The ‘poetry’ of William Shakespeare (1564-1616) constitutes one of the supreme achievements of world art. Readers may know this poetry most intimately from his drama, where it is on display across a dramatic canon of nearly forty plays, in the genres of comedy, history, tragedy, and romance, from early in his professional career (around 1590) to late (around 1614). Indeed, poetry makes up the large percentage of Shakespeare’s theatrical writing (75 per cent), most of it in the blank verse (66 per cent) that he and his contemporary Christopher Marlowe helped turn into the gold standard of English verse.3 But the plays also include a good deal of rhymed verse (about 9 per cent), such as the sonnet prologue to Romeo and Juliet, as well as a large body of in-set lyrics (both songs and poems) in a wide range of metres and forms (over 130 pieces, with over 100 original compositions).4 Among the lyrics in the plays, we find some stunning poetry, from the concluding songs of ‘Spring’ and ‘Winter’ in Love’s Labour’s Lost (Riverside, 5.2.891) through the songs of Ariel in The Tempest: ‘Those are pearls that were his eyes’ (1.2.399). These lyrics include professional singer Amiens’ ‘Under the greenwood tree’ in As You Like It (2.5.1), the clown Feste’s ‘When that I was and a little tine boy’ (5.1.389) concluding Twelfth Night, and the lost princes of Britain’s ‘Fear no more the heat o’th’ sun’ in Cymbeline (4.2.258).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare's Poetry
PublisherCambridge University Press
Pages1-13
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9781139001274
ISBN (Print)9780521846271
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2007

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Poetry
William Shakespeare
Song
Canon
Rhythm
Lyrics
Romeo and Juliet
History
Labor
Gold Standard
Comedy
Spring
Art World
Harold Bloom
Singers
Verse
As You Like It
Pearl
Romance
Poem

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Arts and Humanities(all)

Cite this

Cheney, P. (2007). Introduction: Shakespeare’s poetry in the twenty-first century. In The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare's Poetry (pp. 1-13). Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CCOL0521846277.001
Cheney, Patrick. / Introduction : Shakespeare’s poetry in the twenty-first century. The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare's Poetry. Cambridge University Press, 2007. pp. 1-13
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Cheney, P 2007, Introduction: Shakespeare’s poetry in the twenty-first century. in The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare's Poetry. Cambridge University Press, pp. 1-13. https://doi.org/10.1017/CCOL0521846277.001

Introduction : Shakespeare’s poetry in the twenty-first century. / Cheney, Patrick.

The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare's Poetry. Cambridge University Press, 2007. p. 1-13.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingForeword/postscript

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Cheney P. Introduction: Shakespeare’s poetry in the twenty-first century. In The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare's Poetry. Cambridge University Press. 2007. p. 1-13 https://doi.org/10.1017/CCOL0521846277.001