What poetry shares with public speech, Linda Gregerson argues, is the social premise that “underlies all linguistic practice”— the contract between speaker and audience. How can writers both deploy and complicate this rhetorical contract in a lyric poem? Gregerson conducts close readings of Marvell’s “To His Coy Mistress,” Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116, Louise Bogan’s “Women” and William Meredith’s “The Illiterate” to show how these poems use rhetorical strategies to create layers of meaning and dramatic irony.
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