In these engaging lectures, the eminent poet Anthony Hecht explores the art of poetry in its own right and in relation to the other fine arts. While the problems he treats entail both philosophic and theoretical discussion, he never allows abstract speculation to overshadow his respect for and delight in the written texts that he introduces --or in the specific examples of painting and music to which he refers. After discussing the links between literature (with special reference to poetry) and painting, and between literature and music, Hecht investigates the theme of paradise and wilderness, especially but not exclusively in The Tempest. He then turns to the question of public and private art: the ways in which all the arts participate in "equivocal and curious balances between private and public modes of discourse," between an exclusive or elitist role and the openly political. Beginning with a discussion of architecture as an illustration of a more general theme of discord and balance, the penultimate lecture probes the inner contradictions of works of art and our reactions to them. The sixth and final piece concerns art and morality, especially the issues involved in public funding of the arts.
In writing this book, Anthony Hecht draws on his years of experience as a practicing poet. His books of poems include A Summoning of Stones, Millions of Strange Shadows, The Venetian Vespers, and the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Hard Hours. Most recently he has written The Hidden Law, a critical study of W. H. Auden.
"This book is full of fruitful and fascinating suggestions about our commerce with the variety of art, and the many worlds it inhabits."--John Bayley, The (London) Times
"Anthony Hecht is very much our poet-critic now, even as John Crowe Ransom and W. H. Auden were in previous generations. His On the Laws of the Poetic Art is civilized and superb criticism of the higher relations between poetry and the other arts, and is particularly valuable in this dark time, when barbarism and politics threaten all the arts."--Harold Bloom, Yale University
"Civilized, charming, wise--Anthony Hecht's is an overview we hardly deserve and can only be grateful for."--James Merrill
"Anthony Hecht's new book speaks with that irresistible authority that comes only from a true artist who has spent a lifetime reflecting on his medium. And yet this profound and engaging volume is not only about poetry. It is a magisterial exploration of the nature of art itself."--Dana Gioia
File created: 4/17/2014