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January 10, 2010

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Nice post. You might argue that certain types of repetition -- such as anaphora, the insistent repetition of a phrase at the beginning of a line -- make up for the absence of traditional form, the absence of the constraints of rhyme, meter, and the like. It's easy to see why American poets, practitioners of free verse for the most part, would be attracted to such patterns. What complicates this line of thinking is that, as you note, repetition figures as prominently in Shakespeare or Sidney, Keats or Shelley too. It's possible that all speech is repetition, just as the poet's imagination is, according to Coleridge, "a repetition in the finite mind of the infinite act of creation in the eternal 'I am'." Anyway I'm glad that the end of this post is a provisional one and I look forward to further installments of "Ending a Poem."

Some folks might like to check out this ol' classic on the subject, Barbara Herrnstein Smith's Poetic Closure: A Study of How Poems End - click here for more.

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I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark
                   

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman


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