The Poetry of Literature is unique among the poetics books written by Michael Clay Thompson. Unlike those, which naturally focus on the poetics of poetry, this book shows how the great novelists of English and American classics used poetic devices in their prose writing. Michael provides abundant examples of their use, many pulled from the novels in the trilogies of this curriculum. Among the devices he explores are how the novelists used silence, rhythm and meter, alliteration, assonance and consonance, and stopped consonants—all of which have been studied in the earlier poetics books: The Music of the Hemispheres, Building Poems, and A World of Poetry.
These concepts will come as no great surprise to any student who has completed the previous levels of the curriculum with the accompanying literary trilogies. But for anyone else, this book will be an eye-opening experience. The illustrations are full pages from the novels with the poetic devices highlighted. Seen in the context of a full page, it is readily apparent how easy it is for even careful readers to miss the poetics that are hidden in plain sight.
The novelists featured in the book are Herman Melville, Kenneth Grahame, Robert Louis Stevenson, Jack London, James M. Barrie, Charles Dickens, H.G. Wells, Mark Twain, Jane Austen, Emily Brontë, Arthur Conan Doyle, Edith Wharton, George Eliot, Charlotte Brontë, and Nathaniel Hawthorne.
The poetics strand of the MCT language arts curriculum is one of its great strengths and a source of beauty and joy for many students. The Poetry of Literature is so powerful an addition to the poetics strand that every student should read it, even those who have finished the curriculum or who have advanced beyond this level. It is a book not to be missed—both by students and by parents.
Note: New to the second edition of this book are QR codes that link to audio of Michael Clay Thompson himself reading the poems in the book.