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In a wide-ranging and compelling account of the life of metrical and free verse in the twentieth century, poet and critic Jon Silkin deepens our understanding of the way poetry works on us. He begins from the premiss that two modes of verse, free and metrical, engage the creative energies of poetry now, creating a rich, fertile environment capable of yielding work valuable to poetry itself and to the society which has given it life. With a practitioner's empathy Silkin reads the poetry of Whitman, Hopkins, Eliot, Pound, Lawrence, Dylan Thomas, Bunting and eight British poets from the post-second World War period to illustrate how free and metrical verse create, separately or together, a poetic harmony. Additionally, he includes crucial statements on modern poetry from poets themselves, concluding with a fine memoir of Basil Bunting by Connie Pickard, published in book-form for the first time.