When we read a poem composed in iambic blank pentameter, it reminds us of Shakespeare. When we read a poem composed in long lines without rhyme or rhythm, we think of Whitman. In this ground-breaking study of the history of European versification, M. L. Gasparov shows how such chains of association link the poetry of numerous languages and diverse ages. Examining poetry written in 30 languages (from Irish to Belorussian) and over several millennia (from classical Latinand Greek to the experiments of the contemporary avant-garde), the book traces the ways in which the poetry of English, French, Russian, Greek and other European languages has developed from a single common Indo-European source. The account is liberally illustrated with verse examples, both intheir original languages and in translation.