Сколь ни люблю я Гаспарова, Фасселл, отчасти неожиданно, оказался в сто примерно раз лучше написан. Гаспаров выдаёт заметно больше сухой науки, но, увы, излагает её с характерной академической занудностью. Фасселл сразу жёстко берёт быка за яйца и при этом видно, что предмет его текста ему нравится.
При всём при том Фасселл конечно consumer-oriented книжка, в чём он сам сразу признаётся:
The title of this book may suggest that it is designed as a latter-day Gradus ad Parnassum to teach aspiring writers to produce passable verses. It is not. It is intended to help aspiring readers deepen their sensitivity to the rhythmical and formal properties of poetry and thus heighten their pleasure and illumination as an appropriately skilled audience of an exacting art.
Книжка бескомпромиссно начинается с цитаты из Паунда и продолжается ссылками на Одена и Элиота.
Two modern poets have testified that to write poems is sometimes less to arrange ideas and assertions than to manipulate meters. W.H. Auden has said: “Every poet has his dream reader: mine keeps a look out for curious prosodic fauna like bacchics and choriambs.” <…> Themes and subjects, Auden maintains, are less interesting to the real poet than technique, and “all my life,” he says, “I have been more interested in poetic technique than anything else.”
A comment of T.S. Eliot's can serve as a caution against the assumption that a poet's metrical decisions, because presumably instinctive and automatic, are somehow immune to criticism and even to analysis. Writing to Cleanth Brooks about an explication of one of his poems, Eliot observed: “Reading your essay made me feel… that I had been a great deal more ingenious than I had been aware of, because the concsious problems with which one is concerned in the actual writing are more those of a quasi musical nature, in the arrangement of metric and pattern, that of a concsious exposition of ideas.” Which is to say that regardless of the amount and quality of intellectual and emotional analysis that precedes poetic composition, in the moment of composition itself the poet is most conspicuously performing as metrist. And the same principle holds for the reader: at the moment of his first apprehension of the poem he functions less as semanticist than as a more or less unwitting prosodist. It is the purpose of this book to help the reader to become, as prosodist, less unwitting.