The title of a poem is often seen as no more than a convenient means of reference - a way of cataloguing, or of finding the work in a list of contents. But in shorter lyric poems the title can often be as long as a line of verse, and as allusive. This is a theoretical, critical, and historical exploration of the traditions for titling shorter poems by British and American poets from the beginnings of printing in the fifteenth century to the present day. Ferry offers a thorough introduction to the history of conventions governing the choice of titles, and pursues the origin and development of specific examples. She shows the myriad ways in which a title influences our reading of the poem, illuminating and complicating our understanding of it, its place in the book in which it first appeared, and the poet who wrote it.
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'In her excellent study, Ferry offers a thorough and convincing account of the history of conventions governing the choice of titles ... She finds something interesting to say about almost all the titles she addresses.' Times Literary Supplement