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The Edinburgh Companion to Shakespeare and the Arts$
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Mark Thornton Burnett and Adrian Streete

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780748635238

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748635238.001.0001

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Shakespeare and Poetry

Shakespeare and Poetry

(p.37) 2 Shakespeare and Poetry
The Edinburgh Companion to Shakespeare and the Arts

Peter Holbrook

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter argues that the various typologies of poetry in Shakespeare are often, surprisingly, treated satirically: poetry is linked to fantasy, to dubious claims and to an alienation from ‘reality’. Shakespeare's significance for poetry may amount to an intuition that there are more important things in life than the right words in the right order. Moreover, it reviews some of the ways in which Shakespeare is understood in the critical tradition in order to make it clear why Thom Gunn, of all modern poets, has one of the strongest claims to Shakespeare's inheritance. Gunn's conscious engagement with Shakespearean writing is evident in the pattern of allusions across his oeuvre. His poetry derives its considerable wit and power from the combination of control and openness — ‘Rule’ and ‘Energy’ — that is also found in Shakespeare. Additionally, his fusion of energy with order is the true Shakespearean inheritance.

Keywords:   poetry, Shakespeare, Thom Gunn, Rule, Energy, Shakespearean inheritance

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