Quotable: The Poetic Benefits of Latin

Frances Myatt in the Guardian, inter alia:

While drama also taught me the various names used to describe the form and structure of poetry, it was Latin that really taught me how poetry worked. It was in Latin lessons that we studied in detail why that word was next to that one, how having a verb at the beginning of a line affected the feeling of the poem, or why an unusual word gave a unique flavour to the piece of writing. The rigour of translating from Latin to English, and having to think about how to convey the effect of structure, word order, alliteration and so on, helped me understand poetry like nothing else. In one lesson our Latin teacher even got us to write our own poems in English, so that the process of creation would help us understand the Latin poetry we were reading. Writing your own poetry is a brilliant way of coming to appreciate poetry, but while we wrote poetry in Latin classes, in 12 years of English lessons I only wrote a poem once.

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