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Persona

A dramatic character, distinguished from the poet, who is the speaker of a poem. The persona who describes the process of composing and playing music in Robert Browning’s “Abt Vogler” is a German organist by the same name. Similarly, three historical figures (Erasmus Darwin, James Whitfield, and Josiah Wedgewood) narrate Linda Bierds’s three-part poem “The Ghost Trio.” The identity of the speaker is not always so clear; John Berryman’s sequence of Dream Songs is narrated primarily by a persona named Henry, who refers to himself in the third person.

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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