Robert Pack is a poet, critic, and director of the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference. In this volume he offers 20 essays on the craft of writing and the nature of lyric poetry. He pays homage to those master poets whose high achievements have inspired his own work, and he reflects on human mortality and the consolations that help us to survive - the related pleasures of poetry, laughter, and music. The first section of the book consists of three essays dealing with the poem as a form of the doubling of consciousness, poetic inheritance and the sense of tradition, and poetic art as a form of laughter. Pack examines poetic texts as a critical observer, but ends each essay with subjective reflections. The second section contains 14 brief essays on various aspects of poetic craft, the sense of literary community, the relationship between poetry and music, between poetry and science, between one's psychology and one's imagination. Informal and anecdotal, these meditations combine literary analysis and insight with personal revelation. The third section is composed of three essays, all grounded in the author's reading of the ""Book of Job"". The first develops a comparison between Darwin's theory of evolution and the image of God as an amoral creator in the ""Book of Job"". The second traces the influence of the ""Book of Job"" on poems by Blake, Hopkins, Frost, and Stevens. The third explores the themes of betrayal and nothingness through an extended comparison of the ""Book of Job"" and ""King Lear"".