On the Laws of the Poetic Art

A magisterial exploration of poetry’s place in the fine arts by one of the twentieth century's leading poets


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Aug 15, 2023
6.13 x 9.25 in.
47 b/w illus.
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In this book, eminent poet Anthony Hecht explores the art of poetry and its relationship to the other fine arts. While the problems he treats entail both philosophic and theoretical discussion, he never allows abstract speculation to overshadow his delight in the written texts that he introduces, or in the specific examples of painting and music to which he refers. After discussing literature’s links with painting and music, Hecht investigates the theme of paradise and wilderness, especially in Shakespeare’s The Tempest. He then turns to the question of public and private art, exploring the ways in which all the arts participate in balances between private and public modes of discourse, and 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, while the final piece concerns art and morality.

Awards and Recognition

  • Winner of the 1997 Tanning Prize for Lifetime Achievement, Academy of American Poets