The Well Wrought Urn
Cleanth Brooks, Paul Rand
The Well Wrought Urn is divided into eleven chapters, ten of which attempt close readings of celebrated English poems from verses in Shakespeare’s Macbeth to Yeats’s “Among School Children”. The eleventh, famous chapter, entitled “The Heresy of Paraphrase,” is a polemic against the use of paraphrase in describing and criticizing a poem. This chapter is followed by two appendices: “Criticism, History, and Critical Relativism” and “The Problem of Belief.” Most of the book’s contents had been previously published before 1947, and the position it articulates is not significantly different from Brooks’s earlier books, Understanding Poetry and Modern Poetry and the Tradition.