Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Review of "Amour Honestus" by Edward Hirsch

"Amour Honestus" by Edward Hirsch was offered by's Poem-A-Day on October 15, 2013.  A link to the poem may be found here:

Edward Hirsch (b. 1950) holds a Ph. D. in folklore from the University of Pennsylvania.  He is the author of several volumes of poetry and numerous books of prose about poetry.  Elected to Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 2008, he is currently the president of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.  A more detailed biography may be found here:

The poem follows the ghazal form and, as such, is not terribly successful.  The lines should have the same number of feet.  They don't.  The rhymes at the ends of the first lines of the couplets are imperfect at best, ranging from "bittersweet" to "pit."  At one point, "throat" is "rhymed" with "poet."  Ouch!  At least the consonance is consistent.

More disappointing still, the poet made no effort to work his "signature" into the final couplet.  While not an absolute requirement, this is one of the most challenging aspects of composing a ghazal.  This poet chose not pick up that gauntlet.

The refrain, "hell of it," might of been better chosen, even given the poem's subject of the ironies involved with the medieval concept of courtly love.  It's use is too "in your face" for my taste.  A more subtle choice of refrain, such as "for no particular reason" or "just for fun" would have been more successful.

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