Stephen Fry's The Ode Less Travelled provides us with a witty and entertaining guide to the mysteries of writing poetry..
Stephen Fry believes that if you can speak and read English you can write poetry. But it is no fun if you don't know where to start or have been led to believe that Anything Goes.
Stephen, who has long written poems, and indeed has written long poems, for his own private pleasure, invites you to discover the incomparable delights of metre, rhyme and verse forms.
Whether you want to write a Petrarchan sonnet for your lover's birthday, an epithalamion for your sister's wedding or a villanelle excoriating the government's housing policy, The Ode Less Travelled will give you the tools and the confidence to do so.
Brimful of enjoyable exercises, witty insights and simple step-by-step advice, The Ode Less Travelled guides the reader towards mastery and confidence in the Mother of the Arts.
In this delightfully erudite, charming and soundly pedagogical guide to poetic form, British actor (narrator of the Harry Potter movies, among other roles), novelist and secret poet Fry leads the reader through a series of lessons on meter, rhythm, rhyme and stanza length and reveals the structural logic of every imaginable poetic form, including the haiku, the ballad, the ode and the sonnet. Writing poetry, like any hobby, should be fun, Fry claims, and while talent is inborn, technique can be learned. Inviting readers to study the wealth of choices of form available in the world's major poetic traditions, Fry himself pens intentionally vapid yet entertaining poems that demonstrate each form's rules and patterning, and ends each lesson with wittily devised exercises for readers. Fry rails against the dumbing down of verse in a section subtitled "Stephen gets all cross": "It is as if we have been encouraged to believe that form is a kind of fascism and that to acquire knowledge is to drive a jackboot into the face of those poor souls who are too incurious, dull-witted or idle to find out what poetry can be." Fry has created an invaluable and highly enjoyable reference book on poetic form, which deserves to achieve widespread academic adoption, despite or even because of its saucy and Anglocentric tone.