This book explores the expressive resources peculiar to French verse, first through formal discussion of its poetics and then through detailed readings of texts from the seventeenth century to the present. At the same time, it offers a reassessment of the nature of the reading process itself, and makes a case for rescuing a sense of the complex modalities of language from the pressure to interpret. Reading is, above all, the experience of language, and of the self through language, and we should seek ways of preserving these kinds of experience, even though the conventions of critical discourse militate against them. Part Two presents a sequence of thirteen readings (including texts by La Fontaine, Chenier, Vigny, Baudelaire, Mallarme, Apollinaire, Eluard, Cesaire). These readings are grouped according to a set of underlying preoccupations - formal, acoustic, rhythmic, narratological, etc. - and each group is prefaced by an introductory discussion of the particular aspect highlighted.