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The Secret Life of Poems

Tom Paulin

Tom Paulin’s A Secret Life of Poems: A Poetry Primer is an encounter with some of the most celebrated poems in the English language, by one of the most distinguished poet-critics of our time.

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The Secret Life of Poems is a primer which offers a poem – or on occasion an excerpt – succeeding with commentary in which rhythm, form, metre and sources are the order of the day, not ethical commentary or descriptive paraphrase. This brief engagement with forty-seven poems is intended for students and readers of poetry, and seeks to explain how poetry works by bringing into view the hidden order of specific poems.


Tom Paulin was born in Leeds in 1949 but grew up in Belfast, and was educated at the universities of Hull and Oxford. He has published nine collections of poetry as well as a Selected Poems 1972-1990, two major anthologies, two versions of Greek drama, and several critical works, including The Day-Star of Liberty: William Hazlitt’s Radical Style and, most…

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