With his usual verbal brilliance and Wildean asides, Fry dissects the techniques and forms of poetry from Chaucer to Dylan Thomas, from Europe to Indonesia. He explains metre (iambs, trochees, dactyls and the less usual forms), stanzas, liners and feet (trimeter, tetrameter, pentameter, Alexandrine etc) and techniques such as enjambment, caesuras, and trochaic substitutions etc. He explains rhymes which should be "natural, transparent, seamless, discreet and unforced", and slant rhymes, and their patterns such as cross rhyming and envelope rhyming.
Then he goes through the forms. Well! I knew the sonnet. I had heard of odes and ballads but I didn't really know what they were. He explains, and this is not an exhaustive list, the ballad, anglo-saxon styles, Dante's terza rima, rubai, Spenserian stanza, Heroic verse, Sapphic, Pindaric, Horatian, and lyric odes, anacreontics, villanelles, sestinas, pantoums, ballades (NOT the same as ballads!), rondeaus and rondea redoubles, haikus, tankas, luc bats, limericks, clerihews, and the variants of sonnets. Each of these Fry illustrates with a poem of his own, as well as judiciously picked 'real' poems (did you know that 'Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night' by Dylan Thomas was a villanelle?), while exhorting you to READ ALOUD and do poetry exercises.
I felt so ignorant.
It made me want to read and write poetry.
September 2016; 327 pages