I hope to vanish, with a modest flourish, from this essay in a moment. Since my interest here lies in universal literary questions, I suspect that any appearance of the first-person singular may well be obtrusive or misleading. And yet, given my thesis (that free verse at the moment shows signs of exhaustion), and my own relationship to it (as the recent author of a book whose poems all employ some variety of systematic rhyme, I would like to be thought of as a formalist), perhaps I might usefully offer a few simultaneously self-exculpating and self-expunging words.

To speak of exhaustion in any art form is a notoriously perilous undertaking. So I proceed gingerly, apologetic in advance, and well aware that any such impression of fatigue may spring from all sorts of dubious emotions extrinsic to the art itself—peevishness, prickliness, intolerance, inflexibility. In some cases, what looks like...


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