About All the Fun’s in
How You Say a Thing

Written by one of our best contemporary practitioners of traditional poetic form, All the Fun’s in How You Say a Thing is a lively and comprehensive study of the forms and traditions of English poetry. Perfect for the general reader of poetry, students and teachers of literature, and aspiring poets, Timothy Steele’s book emphasizes both the coherence and the diversity of English metrical practiced from Chaucer’s time to our own. He explains how poets harmonize the fixed units of meter and the variable flow of idiomatic speech, and examines the ways in which poets have used meter, rhyme, and stanza to communicate and enhance meaning. Steele illuminates as well many practical, theoretical, and historical issues in English prosody without ever losing sight of the fundamental pleasures, beauties, and insights that fine poems offer us.

Written in a lucid style, and with a generous selection of helpful scansions and explanations of the metrical effects of the great poets of our language, All the Fun’s in How You Say a Thing is a valuable handbook on technique and a mine of entertaining information for anyone wishing more fully to enjoy, understand, write, or teach poetry.

“Thoughtful, just, and convincing, All the Fun’s in How You Say a Thing is written with clarity and a wide range of reference. The formality, music, and good sense Timothy Steele espouses need to be reaffirmed from time to time; and he has done this with grace and intelligence.”
—Anthony Hecht

“Steele himself says that a formally experienced poet would not require a book on meter to learn his trade. That is surely true; yet I can testify, as one who has been writing in meter for over fifty years, that Steele’s book has been delightful and instructive reading for me.”
—Richard Wilbur