The Form of Love
Poetry’s Quarrel with Philosophy
Can poetry articulate something about love that philosophy cannot? The Form of Love argues that it can. In close readings of seven “metaphysical” poems, the book shows how poets of the early modern period and beyond use poetic form to turn philosophy to other ends, in order not to represent the truth about love but to create a virtual experience of love, in all its guises.
The Form of Love shows how verse creates love that can’t exist without poetry’s specific affordances, and how poems can, in their impossibility, prompt love’s radical re-imagining. Like the philosophies on which they draw, metaphysical poems imagine love as an intense form of non-sovereignty, of giving up control. They even imagine love as a liberating bondage—to a friend, a beloved, a saint, a God, or a garden. Yet these poems create strange, striking versions of such love, made in, rather than through, the devices, structures, and forces where love appears.
Tracing how poems think, Kuzner argues, requires an intimate form of reading: close—even too close—attention to and thinking with the text. Showing how poetry thinks of love otherwise than other fields, the book reveals how poetry and philosophy can nevertheless enter into a relation that is itself like love.