In her last book, Helen Vendler describes monologues spoken to invisible readers in the poetic works of George Herbert, Walt Whitman and John Ashbery. She sets up a differentiation between a horizontal address, targeted at (a) man, and a vertical address, referring to an unattainable figure or one surpassing (a) man. Having observed the dynamic transformations of those monologues in the output of each of the said authors, Vendler pays special attention to how a traditional vertical address turns into horizontal. Her query is, why a poet should be selecting someone unattainable and, to what extent the relationships built in the poems imitate the real-life relations and reflect our contemporary standards of communication. In H. Vendler's opinion, this most intimate lyric verse becomes a source of indirect expression or revision of the said standards and thus, reveals, in her view, a significant ethical and cultural value.
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