There are four basic types of print resources you can consult to locate criticism
of individual poems. First, you can review book-length analyses or collections
of criticism of an author's poem(s). Many of these books are cataloged under
subject headings described in the previous section.
Second, you can consult surveys of poetry criticism on multiple authors. Typically,
these are multi-volume
series that contain critical overviews or excerpts of criticism on oft-studied
poems. Third, you can consult indexes of poetry criticism which will direct
you to articles, book chapters, and other texts that include criticism of a
poem. Finally, you can consult more general literary or humanities indexes
that will direct you to criticism of poems. This section lists critical surveys,
poetry indexes, and general indexes available at the Library that serve
CRITICAL SURVEYS OF POETRY CRITICISM
Jason, Philip, K, ed. Critical
Survey of Poetry. 2nd rev. ed. Pasadena, Calif.: Salem Press, c2003.
Call Number: PN1021 .C7 2003 Alc
An eight-volume survey of 698 poets from around the world. Volumes 1-7 include
essays on poets no shorter than 2,000 words. The Analysis section
of each essay typically reviews several of the poet's most important poems.
References to all poems analyzed in the series appear in a Subject
Criticism: Excerpts from Criticism of the Works of the most Significant
and Widely Studied Poets of World Literature. Detroit, MI: Gale
c1991-. Call Number: PN1010 .P499 Alc
An ongoing series (currently 60+ volumes) that serves as an introduction
to the lives and works of major poets. The entry for each poet includes
reprinted criticism of many of his or her most important poems. Entries conclude
with a bibliography of Further Reading which may lead to additional criticism
on a poet's work. The series includes a Cumulative Title Index and Cumulative
Poet Index that facilitates locating criticism of individual poems.
INDEXES OF POETRY CRITICISM
British and American Poems
Alexander, Harriet Semmes, comp. American
and British Poetry: A Guide to the Criticism. Athens, Ohio : Swallow Press, c1984-<c1996>.
Call Number: Z1231.P7 A44 1984 Ref Desk
A two-volume guide to criticism of American and British poetry. Coverage
for volume one is 1928-1978, while volume two covers 1979-1990. The Note
in volume one establishes the following limitations: "only criticism
of poems a thousand lines or less has been included"; "only criticism
or explanations of the entire work was considered, except in cases where
was available on a given poem or the criticism was particularly noteworthy";
"no criticism of less than four sentences has been included"; "because
books on specific poets are readily accessible through other bibliographic
they were not included in the sources."
Cline, Gloria Stark, and Jeffrey A. Baker. An
Index to Criticisms of British and American Poetry. Metuchen, N.J., Scarecrow
Press, 1973. Call Number: PR89 .C5 Ref Desk
Includes 2,862 criticisms of 1,510 poem by 285 poets from the earliest period
of English language prosody to the early twentieth century. Most books and
periodicals indexed were published between 1960 and 1970.
Donow, Herbert, S., comp. The
Sonnet in England and America: A Bibliography of Criticism. Westport,
Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1982. Call Number: Z2014.S6 D66 1982 Alc
From the Introduction: "A bibliography of secondary materials, published
prior to mid-1981, on the subject of the sonnet and the sonneteer." Coverage
extends to poets in the British Isles and North American from 1530 to the
end of the
19th century. If you are looking for criticism of a sonnet written before
the 20th century, you may want to consult this resource.
Kuntz, Joseph M., and Nancy C. Martinez. Poetry
Explication: A Checklist of Interpretation since 1925 of
British and American
Poems Past and Present. 3rd ed. Boston: Hall, 1980. Call Number: Z2014.P7
1980 Ref Desk
An index of poetry explications published from 1925-1977. The Checklist generally
limits itself to poems 500 lines or less. Other limitations of coverage cited
in its Introduction are: omitting "materials devoted exclusively to
sources and circumstances of composition, to literary parallels, or to a
minor part of a poem"; omitting "paraphrase and metrical analysis
unless the authors related their analyses to the total effect of the poem";
and excluding "explications from books devoted to single authors" unless "reprints
from those books have appared in collections of periodicals."
to American Poetry Explication. Boston, Mass.: G.K. Hall, c1989. Call
Number: Z1231.P7 G85 1989 Ref Desk
A two-volume update to Poetry Explication: A Checklist
of Interpretation for American poems. Coverage extends through
1987, with partial coverage of 1988. Unlike the Checklist, Guide to American
Poetry Explication includes "explications found in books covering
individual authors and works of more than five hundred lines." Volume
and Nineteenth Century, includes explications of pre-twentieth century
poets, while volume two, Modern and
includes explications of twentieth-century poets.
Martinez, Nancy C., and Joseph G.R. Martinez. Guide
to British Poetry Explication. Boston: G.K. Hall, 1991-c1995. Call
Number: Z2014.P7 M34 1991 Ref Desk
A four-volume series that updates Poetry Explication:
A Checklist of Interpretation for
British poems. According to the Preface, "unlike the [Checklist],
however, the Guides include explications for poems of all lengths and interpretations
published in books about single authors as well as collections surveying
periods or several poets." Volume One, Old English-Medieval,
includes reference to more than 4,500 explications, with coverage through
1989 and partial coverage
for 1990. Volume two, Renaissance, includes reference
to more than 7,000 explications, with coverage through 1990 and partial coverage
for 1991. Volume three, Restoration-Romantic,
includes more than 7,500 explications; with coverage through 1991
partial coverage for 1992. Volume four, Victorian-Contemporary,
includes references to more than 8,500 explications, with
coverage through 1992
partial coverage for 1993.
GENERAL LITERATURE INDEXES
Bibliography of English Language and Literature. Cambridge: Bowes & Bowes,
1921- . Call Number: Z2011 .M69 Alc [Also
page: ABELL "aims to list annually all scholarly articles,
books and reviews concerning English language and literature and related
in the world, and in any language. (Education and pedagogical subjects,
and the medical application of linguistics, are excluded.)"
Index. New York: Wilson, 1975- . [Also available online as Humanities
An index approximately 400 humanities journals, including those in the fields
of language and literature. Earlier coverage is provided by Social
Sciences and Humanities Index [1966-1974] and International
Index to Periodicals [1907-1965].
International Bibliography of Books and Articles on the
Modern Languages and Literatures. New York:
MLA, 1922- . Call Number:
Z7006 .M64 Alc [Also available
A detailed bibliography of journal articles, books and
dissertations. Online database coverage extends back to
1963, and includes over 1.7 million citations from more
than 4,400 journals and series, and 1,000 book publishers.
MLAIB contains many citations to poetry criticism and full
text of selected articles. Read more about MLAIB here.